Hamakua Alive!

Filed in Gather Travel Essential by on November 12, 2007 0 Comments

As part of the ‘Eat Hawaii Island Grown’ challenge during the month of October, the first of what will turn out to be the annual Hamakua Alive! Fest was held Saturday, October 27th at the Pa’auilo Elementary and Middle School grounds in conjunction with the school’s annual Blue & White Fundraising Fair.

Showcasing the bounty of the Hamakua Coast, the event was exciting and a lot of fun, with early promises of becoming the foodie happening on the East side of Hawaii Island for years to come.

The idea for this event germinated several months ago from a conversation during a dinner party at the Hawaiian Vanilla Company dining room, where three farmer friends and their wives were discussing the growing issue of sustainability and the variety of foods that could be found already growing on the Hamakua Coast

As any of us who has planned any type of event knows, it takes more than just an idea and many people working together to make it happen. To this effect, several more people were contacted and as the idea caught on, several more meetings were held with more and more farmers and other food producers, chefs, food writers and interested parties joining in.

The result was Hamakua Alive! Each of the following farmers, growers and producers were there manning booths with samples and tastings of their products. Food samples ran from $1 to $3 each for what was more than generous portions.

Chefs from two of the Kohala hotels were performing magic preparing wonderful food using the locally grown products. I can attest that

the food was delicious!

Hawaii Island Goat Dairy from Ahualoa, owned by Dick and Heather

Threlfall was represented with an assortment of samples of their different flavored chevre; plain; dill-garlic, chipotle pepper, Tocoro (manzana) pepper and their best seller, macnut basil pesto.

Assisting Dick Threlfall was Jim Zampathas, publisher and creator of Hawaii Conscious Living, a quarterly magazine, in partnership with his wife Nancy who serves as editor, was passing out copies of their Fall 2007 issue. info@hawaiiconsciousliving.com

The High Country Protea Farm from Honoka’a owned by Anne St. Johns and Richard Berman was also represented with a beautiful arrangement using an assortment of protea and silver dollar eucalyptus.

The Long Ears Coffee Company also from Honoka’a was represented by their owners Wendell and Netta Branco with an assortment of coffee and coffee tastings, mugs, T-shirts and other products their company produces.

The Hawaii Tea Society was well represented by two tea growers and producers;

The Onomea Tea Company of Papaikou booth was manned by partners Rob Nunally and Mike Longo offering tastings of a variety of the teas they have been growing and processing at their farm overlooking beautiful Onomea Bay.


.At this time they offer oolong, black and green tea and hopefully soon they might be able to produce enough of their delicious white tea to offer for sale.

The Mauna Kea Tea Garden located on the slopes of Mauna Kea in the

Waimea area was represented by owners Kimberly and Takahiro (Taka) Ino. Three of their teas were offered for tastings.

JJ Meat Market in Honoka’a owned by David de Luz was represented by Jill Mattos, general manager and her husband Roy Mattos, Dougie, Ku’ulei and Lita, showing an ample selection of beef cuts from 100% Hawaii Island grown grass feed beef. Their booth was offering samples of teriyaki beef on sticks and spam musubi as a plate lunch. The musubi was part of the fund raising effort by the school.

Volcano Island Honey Company owned by Richard Spiegel of Honoka’a was showcasing their certified organic and rare white honey. Displayed were samples and tastings of the original plain white and also Winter Honey; White with Ginger, White with Liliko’i, White with Lehua Blossom honey and also beeswax tapers.

The Hawaiian Vanilla Company of Pa’auilo was represented by husband and wife team, Jim and Tracy Reddekopp displaying an assortment of both culinary and toiletry products made from their own Hawaii Island grown vanilla beans including Roselani Hawaiian Vanilla Bean Ice Cream, Hawaiian Vanilla Lemonade and Hawaiian Vanilla Coffee.

As main organizer and chair for the event, Jim was also busy running all over the campus tending to every minute detail and sharing duties with Hawai’i County Councilman Dominic Yagong as part time emcee.



The Hamakua Heritage Mushroom Farm of Laupahoehoe owned by Robert and Janice Stanga showcased samples of their Brown Hon-shimeji, Pepeiao, Kea Hon-shimeji, Grey Oyster and Ali’i Oyster mushrooms. 

Anchoring between the Vanilla Farm and the Hamakua Mushroom booths was Executive Chef James Babian from The Grill, The Fairmont Orchid Hotel‘s signature restaurant. His rich and earthy Hawaiian Vanilla Lobster Bisque and the Sautéed Hamakua Heritage Mushrooms were big hits with the crowd.

The Wailea Agricultural Group owned by Michael D. Crowell and Leslie

Hill is located in Wailea, between Honomu and Hakalau on the lower eastern slopes of

Mauna Kea. Growers of several tropical fruits including Meyer Lemons, avocados, lychee, and rambutan among others, they are also the largest grower of fresh heart of palms in America.

Their booth was offering two dishes created by Sous Chef Will Queja from the Four Seasons Resort. Heart of Palm, Watercress and Baby

Bok-Choy Kimchee and delicious Crab, Sweet Corn and Heart of Palm deep fried fritters served with a drizzle of Thai Spicy Sweet Chile


As part of the event there was a pie and jams and jelly recipe contest. One of the rules was that locally grown fruit had to be used in the recipes presented for judging.







The judges for the contest were Councilman Dominic Yagong, Chef James Babian and Anthony Mathis. The judges seemed to be having a very good time tasting the offerings. Anthony, who is my son, later mentioned that even with just small tastings he was later bouncing off the walls due to all the sweets….!

Winners of the contest and prizes were:

Pies & Cakes Category

1st Place – Christine Young – Liliko’i Cheesecake – $100.

2nd Place – Emma Reddekopp – Hawaiian Vanilla Pumpkin Spice Pie -$75.

<address w:st=”on”>3rd Place</address> - Elizabeth Glenn – Liliko’i Cream Pie – $50.

Jams & Jellies Category

1st Place – Pat Anderson – Liliko’i Plus – $100.

2nd Place – Noah Glenn – Keanakolu Apple Butter – $75.

3rd Place – Mistuko Uyeda – Liliko’i Butter – $50.

Live entertainment was provided by a mother and son duo from Kea’au; talented 16 year old ukulele prodigy Kris Fuchigami and his mother Keiko at the electric keyboard. Keep your eyes and ears open for more from this talented young man.

Lots going on in Hamakua and I predict this event will grow every year….If you’re a farmer, grower or producer of any food product in Hamakua, please make plans to join in next year.

Already the date is set for October 25, 2008 – Harvest Moon!

Mark your calendars and for more information, please contact:

Jim Reddekopp at the Hawaiian Vanilla Co. – 776-1771

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