Hawaii’s soul food was the center of attention Saturday at the Waikoloa Beach Marriott Resort & Spa, where a favorite poke contest was held.
Poke means “to cut or dice” in Hawaiian. It’s a traditional pupu made with bite-sized pieces of fish, creatively prepared and seasoned with worlds of ingredients and imagination.
Both home cooks and professional chefs competed against their peers for the championship, as well as bragging rights, in the Alii Ballroom.
The top overall professional were Henry Mateo and Elmer Tabudlo, who won the poke with shoyu category. The other top pro finishers were Alan Nagun, who won the traditional poke category, and Peter Kaluna, who won the best cooked poke category and best presentation.
The top overall amateur was Alex Akau, who won the poke with shoyu and best cooked poke categories. Earning first in the other non-professional categories were Sissy Zang for limu poke, Cyrus Field for traditional poke and Orville Wang for presentation.
The contest kicked off the Hawaii Island Festival, which celebrates the state’s unique history, music and cuisine. For more information about the festival, visit hawaiiislandfestival.org.