New Mushroom Category at Sam Choy’s Poke Contest

Fun is mushrooming at the third Sam Choy’s Keauhou Poke Contest Sunday, March 16 at the Sheraton Kona Resort Convention Center.

A new competition category—poke with Hamakua Mushrooms—encourages the use of mushrooms from the Big Isle’s gourmet fungal company located in rural Laupahoehoe. It joins four other culinary categories: traditional, cooked, poke with Aloha Shoyu soy sauce and non-seafood.

Hamakua Mushrooms

Hamakua Mushrooms

“The poke contest is all about sharing our favorite recipes and using local products,” says celebrity chef Sam Choy. ”Put your braggin’ in the bowl and enter to win prizes.”

Hamakua Mushrooms (HM) produces over 5,000 pounds of specialty and exotic mushrooms weekly. The exacting, multi-step growing process, which is done in a series of environmentally controlled rooms, will be detailed at the festival during a video. Attendees will also be able to see the bouquets of fresh, flavorful mushrooms growing in their sterilized bottles—Hamakua Mushrooms produces four varieties of shrooms.

“Contestants can source our mushrooms at islandwide grocers,” details HM co-owner Janice Stanga. “Our ali‘i oyster and pioppini mushrooms are sold at Costco, KTA, Safeway, Foodland and Sack ‘n Save.” For more info, phone HM at 808-962-0017.

Entry fee is $15 for amateurs and $30 for professionals—culinary students can participate for free. High schoolers can enter in a new High School Division and college culinary students are welcome to again vie in the non-professional category.

Suisan Company Ltd. will donate 15 pounds of fresh filet ahi to the first 50 entrants using fish. It contestant wants additional ahi, it will be offered at wholesale price. Suisan also offers seafood to contestants at a wholesale price. Contest entry deadline is March 10; find forms at www.SamChoysKeauhouPokeContest.org.

Poke contest fun is 9 a.m.-3 p.m. and includes Hawai’i Island Marketplace, a “Poke Throw Down,” a celebrity “Poke Chop” cookoff, guest speakers, entertainment by Royal Hawaii Band Kona and cultural demonstrations. Public poke tasting is 12:30 p.m.

Poke Cook-off

Public admission to all contest activities is $5 (limit of five poke tastes) or $10 for an event bag and unlimited tastes until gone.  Keiki under 12 are free). Proceeds benefit the $150,000 Equip the Kitchens Campaign for the future Hawai‘i Community College-Palamanui campus. Last year’s contest donated $5,000 to the effort.

A free trolley will operate from Keauhou Shopping Center (pickup near Longs Drugs) 4-10:30 p.m. Saturday and 9 a.m.-3 p.m. Sunday.

Sam Choy’s Keauhou Poke Contest is part of Keauhou Resort’s annual Kamehameha III celebration March 14-17 that commemorates the Keauhou-born king, Lani Kauikeaouli. The contest is sponsored by Kamehameha Schools, Aloha Shoyu Company, Suisan Company Ltd., Hawaiian Springs, Hamakua Mushrooms, West Hawaii Today, the Sheraton Kona Resort and Spa at Keauhou Bay, Fresh Island Fish, Coca Cola, BMW of Hawaii, Tanioka’s Seafood & Catering, Sam Choy’s Kai Lanai, Roberts Hawaii, Bacardi, Sun Dried Specialties, Kapa Radio and Young’s Market Co.