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12th Annual Cook-Off

Keaau, Hawaii The 12th Annual Cook-Off “Taste of Puna” will be held this coming Saturday June, 21, 2008 in Puna Fresh Foods at the Keaau Shopping Center.   This community project is sponsored by local businesses, government, and community organizations to promote the goodness of the District of Puna, and showcase their products, creative tastes, talents, and Aloha Spirit.  All cooks and entrepreneurs are invited to compete in this fun community event.


In the coffee category contestants are reminded to bring one pound of green beans to Hilo Coffee Mill to be roasted by Tuesday, June 18, 2008. 100% of the coffee must be grown on Hawaii Island, single district origin, no blends.  For further information call Hilo Coffee Mill at (808) 968-1333.

At this year’s Taste of Puna Cook-Off competition a new category is being introduced…Packaged Products.  In this division, contestants will be producing a product and providing a mock sample package depicting a “make believe” brand, product name, weight, nutrition information, UPC, and other selling information.  In this category a recipe is not needed and the product can be a food or non-food item. Hopefully this could be a springboard for starting a new business that uses Puna products.

With increasing community support the grand prize has increased to $2,500 cash with the total purse for the Cook-Off totaling over $5,000, plus non-cash prizes donated by local business.  In addition to the grand prize there will be five (5) category winners earning $200, ten (10) best of shows winning $100, and ten (10) honorable mentions winning $20.00.  All participants will receive an Award Certificate or Certificate of Appreciation for their role to help promote the “Goodness of Puna”.

Contestants may enter in one of five categories including salads, entrees, desserts, brewed coffee, and packaged product.  Judges will consider 1) use of products from Puna, 2) taste, 3) presentation, and 4) a written recipe. In addition one entry will be selected by the State Department Health Hawaii’s Healthy Hawaii Initiative - Fruits and Veggies - Good Choice! Campaign, that promotes healthy eating.

The fun community event will be held on Saturday June 21, 2008 at the Keaau Shopping Center from 10:00 am to 12:00 noon.  At noon, Audrey Wilson – Columnist and gourmet cook, will host a fun game open to the public – “Guess the Gadget” where she will give the public a chance to identify strange yet “cool” kitchen gadgets that make food preparation easier, more fun, and creative.

An awards ceremony will take place at 12:30 pm.  Emcee and host for the ceremony will be Richard Nelson, Past President of the Hawaii Island Chamber of Commerce, and the Cook-Off’s first grand prize winner; he was instrumental in getting FedEx to make daily stops into Hilo International Airport to help Puna’s floral and tropical fruit industries.

Judging this years competition will include Howard Dashefshy – KHNL-TV New 8, Alan Okuda – Hawaii Community College Hilo - Food Service Program Director, Margie Hanselman – Taste of Puna two-time grand prize winner; Audrey Wilson – Columnist and gourmet cook, Hawaii Tribune Herald; Lee Harlow – Volcano House, Denyse Temple – Puna News, Katherine Patton – Hilo Coffee Mill; I’oane Kekahuna – Maku’u Framer’s Association; and all of Puna’s County Council members – J Yoshimoto, Emily Naeole, and Bob Jacobsen.

This community event is made possible by the contributions by various business, community, and government partnerships.  Title sponsors of the event are Puna Fresh Foods, Wiki-Wiki Mart, Keaau Shopping Center, County of Hawaii Department of Research and Development, and Maku Farmers Association.  Sponsoring the salad and entrée categories is Cal-Kona Produce and Hilo Coffee Mill sponsoring the Coffee and Beverage Categories.  The event’s co-sponsors include: W.H. Shipman Ltd, Meadow Gold Dairies, Coca-Cola, 7-Up, Paradise Beverage, Rainbow Inventory Services, O’Keefe Bakery, Asia Trans, Suisan, Pepsi, Liberty International, HRC Company, Better Brands, and KWXX B-97, as well as many business exhibitors.

Entry Applications are available at www.suresave.com; deadline for entry is Wednesday, June 18, 2008. Free exhibitor tables are available for Puna’s charitable organizations and churches.  For further information call Carl Okuyama, event coordinator at (808) 937-4392, or email at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

Share the goodness of Puna!

Taste of Puna Poster

For Further Information Contact:
Carl Okuyama, Event Coordinator
Taste of Puna
16-586 Old Volcano Road
Keaau, Hawaii 96749
Cell: (808) 937-4392
Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.