Pastele afficinados face off Saturday

Get a bunch of green bananas, peel the skin, grate them, add in pork, olives, and several other ingredients, and cook. You got yourself pasteles.

Simple, right? Wrong.

Tell that to 76-year-old Adela Rivera of Lawai Valley.

“It takes pretty much a whole day. It’s not an easy job,” she said. “There is no shortcut in making your pastele, your gandule rice and your Puerto Rican food. You do that, and you ruin your recipe.”

The pastele maker, who has over 60 years of cooking experience with the Puerto Rican dish, is among several contestants in the inaugural Pastele Cook-off at the Kauai Veteran’s Center at 6 p.m. Saturday.

The event is hosted by Janet and Godwin Esaki of the Kapaa Banana Company.

Godwin, a third-generation banana farmer, came up with the idea of the cook-off after several of his customers bragged about their pasteles.

“All the guys who buy the bananas for pastele said that theirs are the best, so I said, ‘We should have a contest then you can put your pastele where my mouth is,’” he said.

A traditional Puerto Rican dish, and a favorite among locals, pasteles generally include grated green bananas, pork, achiote oil and olives.

Proceeds will benefit Lihue Aikido Club, Leadership Kauai and The Kauai Veterans Center.

Contestants will be judged on four criteria — appearance, flavor, texture and overall authenticity.

The top three winners will receive cash prizes, while one contestant will win a people’s choice award — a free stay at Kauai Beach Resort.

Janet said contestants will be allowed to cook other specialty dishes — such as gandule rice and pastele stew — and sell leftover pasteles and dishes to spectators.

Kachi Kachi music will be provided by Wally Rita y Los Kauaianos. The cook-off will have a beer garden as well as wine.

Entry fee is $55, which includes a case of bananas and a vendor booth for pastele sales.

Entry forms and tickets are available at Vicky’s Fabrics and Kauai Music and Sound in Kapaa; Sueoka’s in Koloa; and Party Wonderland, Tanaka Plumbing and Aloha Feed in Lihue.

Doors open at 6 p.m. and attendees are asked to provide a $15 donation.

Info: (808) 822-1158

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