LIHUE — Nina Castillo, Rose Silva and Adela Rivera emerged as the top winners of the first pasteles cookoff Saturday before several hundred enthusiasts of the Puerto Rican dish at the Kauai Veterans Center.
“Thank you, everybody, thank you, all,” said Rivera, who finished the judging in third place. “I made 90 pasteles and we’ll have about 120 distributed after we get about 30 more. I didn’t want leftovers so I didn’t make that much. We didn’t really know what to expect.”
The first pasteles cookoff was a benefit for the Lihue Aikido Club, Leadership Kauai and the Kauai Veterans Center.
“This was a busy weekend,” said Char Ravelo, executive director for Leadership Kauai. “We won’t know how much everything comes out until next week because we’ll start collecting ticket sales and leftover tickets from the outlets starting Monday.”
Godwin Esaki, wearing a minion “Ba-ba-ba-ba banana” shirt to represent his banana farm, provided cases of bananas as door prizes as well as a premium for the six vendors who presented their pastele offerings. The panel of judges included Sean Chun, Steven Nakata, Danny Morioka and Carlos Arguinzoni-Gil.
“A good pastele has to have at least some olives in every dish,” said John Kaohelaulii, who had his family poised for the people’s choice tasting. “We’ll see if this is true.”
John had olive in his first stop while daughter Jeni had to wait until her third stop before getting a whole olive in her dish.
When the seemingly unending line of people coming through the doors finally slowed down, Rivera was named the third prize winner. Silva got the distinction of being the red ribbon winner, and Castillo broke away from her serving line to claim the first prize of a hand-made koa box and the blue ribbon.
“She is the one who kept telling me she didn’t want to enter,” Esaki said.
Castillo said she didn’t really plan on how many servings she would make for this initial event.
“I just made plenty,” she said. “I think we might have made for 200, but I don’t know.”
She was still serving long after Rivera, whose booth had run out less than an hour after doors opened at 6 p.m. A Kauai Beach Resort banner backed her booth.
This was appropriate as Rivera was named the People’s Choice winner, receiving a stay at the Kauai Beach Resort as a prize along with a hand-made dish by Wayne Miyata, an instructor at Kauai Community College.
“I thought there would be more people from the college here,” Miyata said while his family went to fetch more helpings. “We need to support these types of events because it’s about culture.”
Wally Rita y Los Kauaianos topped off the evening with kachi kachi music for dancing.