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Sam Choy Poke Contest results

March 22, 2012 - Carla Tracy

It’s always great to get over to the Big Island from Maui. Last weekend, my husband and I drove from Hilo around South Point to Keauhou, the resort town just below Kailua-Kona. It was for the annual Sam Choy Keauhou Poke Contest.

As one of the judges, I got to savor some incredible raw fish dishes and the presentations were off the scale (pun intended) in themes, textures and colors.

“Taking home the lion’s share of prizes at the Sam Choy’s Keauhou Poke Contest Sunday was Chef Jayson Kanekoa of the Waikoloa Beach Marriott Resort & Spa. He took first place in three of four professional categories—traditional, spicy and cooked—and took third place in the poke with soy sauce category. The top pro finisher for poke with soy sauce was Kevin Lanning of Island Thyme Gourmet in Kailua-Kona,” says publicist Fern Gavelek.

Kanekona has some Maui ties in that his boss, Bill Countryman, lives on Maui. Bill is the cluster gm of several Marriott properites in the islands.

The event was lively with a ballroom full of vendors selling everything from cinnamon to dragonfruit to Kona coffee. Presented by Kamehameha Investment Corporation (KIC), it debuted at the Sheraton Keauhou Bay Resort and Spa’s Convention Center.

“Gwen Edwards of Kailua-Kona earned top overall amateur and best cooked poke honors with her Paniolo Shrimp Poke. Earning first in the other non-professional categories was Susan Osborne of ‘Aina Life Culinary Arts at Kua O Ka La Charter School in Pahoa for best spicy poke, Guy Toyama of the Natural Energy Laboratory Hawaii Authority (NELHA) for best traditional poke and Keoki Rivera of Kailua-Kona for best poke with soy sauce,” pens Gavelek.

Admission proceeds were presented to Jim Lightner for ‘The Heart of the Campus-Equip the Kitchens Campaign.’ The campaign is seeking $1million to outfit the culinary facility at the future Hawai‘i Community College Palamanui campus,” she continues.

“Mayor Billy Kenoi officiated over the zany Aloha Shoyu Celebrity Poke Cook-off and top honors were given to Gene ‘Bucky’ Leslie. Winning contestants earned cash, gift certificates and koa bowls. A panel of 12 judges critiqued the 19 contest entries before attendees were permitted to sample competing recipes.

“Sam Choy’s Keauhou Poke Contest is part of Keauhou Resort’s annual Kamehameha III celebration March 16-18 that commemorates the Keauhou-born king, Lani Kauikeaouli. The contest is sponsored by Kamehameha Investment Corporation, Kamehameha Schools, the Sheraton Keauhou Bay Resort Spa, Sam Choy’s Kai Lanai, Aloha Shoyu, Hamakua Macadamia Nut Company, Island Fesh Fish, KTA Keauhou, Tanioka’s Seafood & Catering, Young’s Market-Waivera Water, Y Hata and Great American Self-Storage.”


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Marriott Chef Jayson Kanekoa took the lion's share of prizes