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9th Annual Cook-off

First Place, Non Professional Division,  Puna Seafood Cornucopia Surprise with  Lilikoi / Guava Hot Sauce Margie Hanselman

First Place, Student Division Papaya Ulalaya Momi Tong

Keaau, Hawaii – Margie Hanselman and Momi Tong took top honors at the 9th Annual Taste of Puna – Cook Off, held at Puna Fresh Foods at the Keaau Shopping Center; both contestants won $1,000 each in cash.

Hanselman’s entrée Puna Seafood Cornucopia Surprise with Lilikoi / Guava Hot Sauce won the non-professional division and Tong’s dessert Papaya Ulalaya won the student division.   According to Company officials the attendance at this community event was the best attended cook-off in the events history with over forty five entries and another forty exhibitors. The event gave the community the opportunity to share the wonderful tastes from Puna. The major criteria judges were looking for were products grown or made in Puna, to bring out the best from Puna’s diversified agricultural industry and Puna’s evolving culture. The “Taste of Puna” is a series of events promoting Puna’s unique talents and products. Ten entries were selected “Best of Taste of Puna” - winners included Lela Texiera (entrée – Chiopotle Squash Chevre Rellenos with Roasted Red Pepper Pesto); Milagrosa Quero Conal (Salad – Scrumptious Tropical Fruit Salad); Rick Andrade (Entrée – Local Style Stuffed Shrimp); Vinienne Hougton (Dessert – Puna Poni Purple Passion); Colton Ty Fred (Baked Goods – Blueberry and Cream Cheese Braid); Darrell Houghton (Salad – Maka (Green) Papaya Salad); Rosie Colon (Entrée – Savory Seafood Veggie Lasagna); Hannah Jay (Baked Goods – Coffee Macadamia Nut Chocolate Chip Cookies); Andrena White (Dessert – Punalicious Raw Fruit Pie); and Amy Lynn Hoff (Pupu – Taco Party Plate); each contestant won $125.00 in cash.

Judges for the event included: Albert Yeite - Kilauea Lodge; Brickwood Galuteria - FOX2's Hawaii Kitchen; Denyse Temple - Puna News; Kathy Hirayama for Gary Safarik - County Council Chairman; James Arakaki - County Council Member; James "Tex" Texeira - Solid Rock Ministries; John Politano - Charley's Bar & Grill; Paolo Bucchioni - Paolo's Bistro; and Richard Nelson - 1st Cook-Off Winner. Other Taste of Puna participants included: Allahnah Joy, Antony Mau, Arlene Buklarewicz, Arthur Iree Russell, Betsy Kimura, Betty L. King, Cary A. Ploeger-Dizon, Chelly Edwards, Chioke Mona Mims, Claire M. Swank, Destiny O'Hara, Ea Indigo, Elijah Reed, Heather Ann Wilkening, Hilda Rodrigues, Janis Parker, Jessica Kalawe, John H. Cort, Julius Mishkin, Kaipo B. Freitas, Kaweo Kong Kee, Linda Rowell Stevens, Lorienne West, Maurice Dean Connevey III, Midred Ann Cort, Minoru Hironaga, Naikapahakea Penaroza, Nakoa Penaroza, Nia Penaroza, Nikkole Penaroza, Palani Mae Emeliano, Suzette Ridolfi, Vicki L. Stump, and Victor Breardsley

Business sponsors were the Keaau Shopping Center, Wiki-Wiki Mart, Cal Kona Produce, Suisan Company, Pepsi, Meadow Gold, 7-Up, Better Brands, Hilo Coffee Mill, Aloha Security, THY & Associates, Hilo Fish Company, Rainbow Inventory Services, and Better Brands.

Special community assistance was provided by the Puna Service Unit of the Girls Scouts of Hawaii.

Coordinators of the event were, Mark Nakamura, Rick Chalmers, Robert Keliihoomalu, Jr., Amy Okuyama, Imelda Castaneda, Dilla Oba, Kanani Niles, Marvin Park, Earl Kakugawa, Janna Kaaua, Debra Rabang, Jenny Hamada, Alex Fernandez, Andera Cuba, Lorraine Kobayashi, Glenn Arakawa, Valerie Ferrari, Malcolm Ono, Dawn Leffingwell, Wes Pereira, and Valerie Ferrari of Windward Designs. Event information and photos will be available at