Cooking for University of Hawaii at Hilo, Arnold Hara, left, and Ray Ibarra work together with their team to create a dish with locally sourced ingredients in the Farm to Wok cooking contest. (PHOTO BY ANNA PACHECO| SPECIAL TO NHN)
Chef Steve Fontana, executive chef, cooks for the Kaiser Permanente team in the Farm to Wok cooking challenge held in Hawi on July 20. (PHOTO BY ANNA PACHECO| SPECIAL TO NHN)
Koleman Pauline, with the Kaiser Permanente team, competes in the Farm to Wok contest in Hawi on July 20, where teams of chefs were challenged to create dishes using only locally sourced ingredients. (PHOTO BY ANNA PACHECO| SPECIAL TO NHN)
Natalie Young, with the Sustainable Kohala team, preps as her team, along with six other teams, competes in the Farm to Wok challenge in Hawi, creating dishes with locally sourced ingredients. (PHOTO BY ANNA PACHECO| SPECIAL TO NHN)
A variety of locally grown Kohala produce was donated for use by the chefs in the Farm to Wok cooking contest, held in Hawi on July 20. (PHOTO BY ANNA PACHECO| SPECIAL TO NHN)
Sherlette Shiigi, with the Bromeliads Hawaii team, puts the finishing touches on a dish ready for tasting during the Farm to Wok cooking contest, held in Hawi on July 20. (PHOTO BY ANNA PACHECO| SPECIAL TO NHN)
Seven teams competed in the Farm to Wok challenge in Hawi on July 20. Ingredients used were locally sourced, and participants of the tasting were able to vote for their favorite dish. (PHOTO BY ANNA PACHECO| SPECIAL TO NHN)
It was a busy day at the Hawi Jodo Mission grounds in North Kohala on July 20. About 150 people attended the “Farm to Wok” event, a fundraiser for the Palili ‘O Kohala project, a 10-family taro growing cooperative. Held from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m., visitors came from as far away as Hilo and Kona.
“Last year our fundraiser was ‘A Taste of Kalo,’” said Andrea Dean, who is part of the movement to “Eat Locally Grown” and foodhubkohala.org. “This year we did a cook-off with the intention of raising awareness of food sustainability.”
People walked around with plates of delicious food, cooked up by seven teams; Bromeliads Hawaii LLC, Sustainable Kohala, Hawaiian Airlines, University of Hawaii Hilo, Kaiser Permanente, Kahua Pa‘a Mua and Honsador Lumber.
Competing in an “Iron Chef” style cooking competition, the teams were given five pounds of pork, a quart of vegetable oil, and salt and pepper. Members from the North Kohala farming community donated everything from bananas and kabocha pumpkins, to tomatoes and eggplant.
“This is the least amount of money I’ve paid, for the best food yet,” said one of the attendees, who had just purchased a ticket. The tickets were priced at $10 in advance, and $12 at the door, with wristbands given out to visitors who could taste the final results created by each team.
Sustainable Kohala had a team of four people cooking donated ingredients, and succeeded in making four different dishes; sweet sour pork with liliko‘i and mango chutney, cassava (tapioca) fritters atop sauteed eggplant, beet and pumpkin tapenade, and taro with sweet potato, cucumber, mountain apple sauce.
“Everything was locally grown,” said Donna Maltz of the Sustainable Kohala “Iron Chef” team. “We served up peace and love.”
Others on the Sustainable Kohala team included Natalie Young, Deborah Winters and Richard Liebmann.
As the lines grew shorter for the food tastings, LAVA 105.3 emcee Eddie O, made comments about the event and introduced various hosts of the Farm to Wok event.
“We’re an intergenerational family, here to enjoy,” said Kevin Kremeyer, one of the attendees. “I have my vote in and I think it will be Sustainable Kohala.”
His niece Gigi Kremeyer voted for the pulled pork sandwich created by Kaiser Permanente, and his mother Inge Dickerson said “the mango sauce made by the green ladies (Sustainable Kohala) was unbelievable!”
Attendees who purchased tickets were able to vote on the tasty dishes. third place by the people’s vote was presented to Kahua Pa‘a Mua. second place given to Bromeliads Hawaii, and 1st place “Best of Wok,” was awarded to the Sustainable Kohala team.
“Mahalo to all the different chefs and teams who came out today!” announced David Fuertes, a member of Palili ‘O Kohala. “Everyone was trying to help each other, trading onions or eggs. If you didn’t win first place, you are still a winner.”
Debbie Choo, a family member of Palili ‘O Kohala said the event was a success. “We are on five acres now, but hope to grow to 20 acres. We want to educate people on all the different ways to eat the kalo plant, but also to learn and teach natural farming.”
Fuertes said the taro is healthy, chemical-free food using a Korean natural farming method, called Han Kyo Cho. He added that a piggery has been added at the taro farm, a natural way to raise pigs without using antibiotics, and no flies or smells are present.
The North Kohala’s local food system strategic plan was unveiled by foodhubkohala.org, saying they hope to see North Kohala grow 50 percent of its food by 2018. For more information, visit foodhubkohala.org or paliliokohala.wordpress.com.