A World of Pure Imagination
“‘Made In Hawaii’ was not [always] as mainstream as it is now,” says Amy Hammond, the director of the Made in Hawaii Festival and volunteer executive director of the Hawaii Chocolate & Cacao Association. She recalls that locavore ideology has never been as in-vogue as it is today, even when considering chocolate. Now, an entire festival–the Hawaii Chocolate Festival (HCF)–celebrates the ascension of local cacao into worldwide renown.
Hammond continues, “I gave a recommendation to hold a festival about this unique crop [cacao]. A few years passed, so I decided to take on the effort for myself.” Her efforts brought HCF to fruition, and this year more than 30 chocolate vendors, including Padovanni Chocolates, Waialua Estate and Malie Kai Chocolates, will showcase the Islands’ best.
“Several new companies formed as a result of the festival, including Manoa Chocolate,” Hammond says. Since opening in June 2012, Manoa Chocolate incorporates many eco-friendly methods into production. Candyman Drew Farwell says, “We definitely try to be green. Our chocolate’s packaging is recyclable, and the plastic-looking wrap inside is actually a cellulose wrapper made out of plant protein. It’s completely biodegradable.” Their most popular sellers include a new chili pepper pineapple bar with backyard-grown ghost peppers and Big Island Hawaiian Crown Estate chocolate ($10) and the North Waialua espresso beans-speckled chocolate breakfast bar ($10 at the factory, $8.99 at Whole Foods Market).
“We’ve got what we call the Chocolate Aquarium: a room for visitors to watch us make and load the chocolate,” Farwell says. The factory, located in Kailua, is open for walk-in tours (large groups require appointments) and all-day chocolate tastings.
In light of February as “Hawaii-Grown Cacao Month,” both the HCF and Manoa Chocolate have done it right. Cacao-stimulated endorphins, anyone?Hawaii Chocolate Festival, Dole Cannery Shops, 650 Iwilei Rd., Sat., 2/23, noon–5pm, $20 online/$25 at the door, [hawaiichocolatefestival.com] Manoa Chocolate, 315 Uluniu St. Ste. 203, open Tue.–Sun., 10am–6pm, [manoachocolate.com], 262-6789