Fun, food at the farm fair

LIHUE — Celebrity judge Ralph Suniga said the more you eat, the more you change your mind, during the Kauai Coffee Celebrity Chef Cookoff for Charity at the Kauai County Farm Bureau Fair.

The cookoff opened the fair’s Friday-night run to a bigger-than-sold-out event as people forked over admission to the event which benefited a local nonprofit.

“We were sold out at 125 people,” said Dolly Kanekuni, one of the event coordinators. “But the chefs brought a lot of food, and I guess people can still come in as long as the food doesn’t run out.”

Following the rounds of visiting chefs from The Hukilau Lanai, a previous year’s winner, the Courtyard by Marriott at Coconut Beach, the Kauai Marriott Resort & Beach Club, Tiki Tacos in Kapaa, Merriman’s Fish House, RumFire at Sheraton Kauai Resort, and the Oasis, diners settled in to vote for their favorite samplings inside the Hawaiian Airlines entertainment tent, which was cordoned off for the event.

“This is a real good event,” said Megan Kono of the Hawaii Farm Bureau Honolulu office. “I’m stuffed. They should have something like this in the other farm fairs.”

Ron Wiley of the KONG Radio Group, event coordinator, said this is the eighth year of hosting the celebrity chef cookoff, in which each chef competed to earn $2,000 for a nonprofit charity of their choosing.

The Kauai Independent Food Bank was the designated choice for Rey Montemayor of the Kauai Marriott Resort and Beach Club, who was announced the winner after all the food was gone.

“This was not even close,” Wiley said. “Chef Montemayor won on both the judges’ and the public polling. He won both categories by a good margin.”

Montemayor prepared a Kauai Shrimp slider with King Farm eggplant, tomato lomi lomi and kaffir lime aioli to win the taste buds of celebrity judges and the public.

“Five hundred shrimp,” Montemayor said. “That was a lot to prepare. I’m glad we finally got through all of that.”

The first 120 participants earned bonus gift bags from Kauai Coffee, whose featured flavor was vanilla macadamia nut.

Johnny Gordines, Kauai County Farm Bureau president and a celebrity judge, was off to another chore as president of the Hawaii Tropical Flower and Foliage Association.

He was joined by Dottie Yadao of the HTFFA scholarship committee in presenting a $1,000 scholarship to Mahealani Ho‘okano of Anahola, a student at Kauai Community College studying liberal arts.

“I’m inspired to grow things,” Ho‘okano said, accepting both a check and a haku head lei. “After looking at all these flowers, how can you not love these buckets of aloha?”

The Kauai County Farm Bureau Fair continues today from noon until 11 p.m. at Vidinha Stadium, featuring Family Fun Sunday sponsored by Garden Island Federal Credit Union.

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