With $10,000 in cash and prizes, and chances for both amateur and professional chefs to win, the Sam Choy's Keauhou Poke Contest on the Big Island will be a huge draw statewide.
Yes, Hawaii's favorite pupu will get its due March 18 at the Sheraton Keauhou Bay Resort & Spa. But the deadline to enter is Feb. 28, so it's best to practice your poke recipes now.
Poke (po-KEH) is the Hawaiian word for "slice." The local-style pupu (appetizer) consists of marinated, fresh local fish that may be prepared raw, seared or cooked other ways.
Spearheaded by celebrity Chef Sam Choy, the contest celebrates locally sourced seafood that is prepared raw, seared or cooked. Entrants will compete in four divisions.
Photo provided by Sam Choy
The contest encourages the creative use of seaweed, seeds, herbs, spices, nuts, marinades, tofu, fruit and vegetables for seasoning.
Poke contest judging starts 10 a.m. with an awards ceremony and tasting open to the public at 11:30 a.m. Admission to all activities is $3 at the door (keiki 12 and younger are free) and proceeds benefit the future culinary instruction facilities at Hawai'i Community College-Palamanui. There will also be a marketplace with fresh fish, cooking demos and a presentation on sustainable aquaculture.
A TV host, cookbook author and founding member of the Hawaii Regional Cuisine movement, Choy put poke on the world's culinary map.
The award-winning restaurateur remembers the first poke contest in the early 1990s was held under a tent up in Kamuela, and there were only a handful of entrants. "Today there are two dozen contests across the country." The rules and details of the contest are posted online on Facebook at Sam Choy's Keauhou Poke Contest.