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Sam Choy’s Keauhou Poke Contest results

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Video by David Corrigan | Voice of Stephanie Salazar Big Island Video News

Sam Choy Jr. serves as a judge (Photo special to Hawaii 24/7)


Taking home the lion’s share of prizes Sunday at the Sam Choy’s Keauhou Poke Contest was Chef Jayson Kanekoa of the Waikoloa Beach Marriott Resort & Spa.

He took first place in three of four professional categories — traditional, spicy and cooked — and took third place in the poke with soy sauce category.

The top pro finisher for poke with soy sauce was Kevin Lanning of Island Thyme Gourmet in Kailua-Kona.

Presented by Kamehameha Investment Corporation (KIC), the event debuted at the Sheraton Keauhou Bay Resort and Spa’s Convention Center.

Gwen Edwards of Kailua-Kona earned top overall amateur and best cooked poke honors with her Paniolo Shrimp Poke.

Earning first in the other non-professional categories was Susan Osborne of Aina Life Culinary Arts at Kua O Ka La Charter School in Pahoa for best spicy poke, Guy Toyama of the Natural Energy Laboratory Hawaii Authority (NELHA) for best traditional poke and Keoki Rivera of Kailua-Kona for best poke with soy sauce.

Admission proceeds totaling $1,000 were presented to Jim Lightner for “The Heart of the Campus-Equip the Kitchens Campaign.” The campaign is seeking $1million to outfit the culinary facility at the future Hawaii Community College Palamanui campus.

Mayor Billy Kenoi officiated over the zany Aloha Shoyu Celebrity Poke Cook-off and top honors were given to Gene “Bucky” Leslie.

Winning contestants earned cash, gift certificates and koa bowls. A panel of 12 judges critiqued the 19 contest entries before attendees were permitted to sample competing recipes.

Traditional Amateur Entry by NELHA (Photo special to Hawaii 24/7)

Complete results:

Professional Traditional

First Place: Jayson Kanekoa of Waikoloa Beach Marriott – Fruits of the Sea Poke
Second: Ken Schloss of Huggo’s – Ahi Tuna Poke Tower
Third: Dale Taylor of The Fish Hopper Seafood & Steak Restaurant – Chef Dale’s Lilikoi/Mango Poke

Professional Cooked

First: Jayson Kanekoa of Waikoloa Beach Marriott – Lobster, Scallops & Shrimp Cappucino Poke
Second: Deanna Del Mar of Okolemaluna Tiki Lounge – Lilikoi Spice Poke

Professional Spicy

First: Jayson Kanekoa (only pro vying in this category) – Spicy Kampachi Pockets Poke With Soy Sauce
First: Kevin Lanning of Island Thyme Gourmet Catering – Poke Contest Recipe
Second: Kelsi Ikeda of Sandy’s Drive In in Kainaliu – Everything but the Oxtail Poke!
Third: Jayson Kanekoa of Waikoloa Beach Marriott – Soy Sake Box Poke


Overall Winner: Gwen Edwards of Kailua-Kona

Category Winners:

Cooked: Gwen Edawrds of Kailua-Kona with Paniolo Shrimp Poke
Spicy: Susan Osborne with Aina Life Culinary Arts Class at Kua O Ka La Charter School in Pahoa – Ulu Ahi Spicy Poke
Traditional: Guy Toyama of NELHA in Keahole – Keahole Point Poke
With Soy Sauce: Keoki Rivera of Kailua-Kona – Little Touch of Heaven
Second Place: Ryan Koyanagi of Aqua Engineering in Kailua-Kona – Poke Contest Recipe

Celebrity Cook Off

First Place: Gene “Bucky” Leslie of Flowers for Mama
Second Place: Casey Balaou of Hulihe‘e Palace
Third Place: Ka’ea Alapai of KAPA Radio

Sam Choy’s Keauhou Poke Contest is part of Keauhou Resort’s annual Kamehameha III celebration March 16-18 that commemorates the Keauhou-born king, Lani Kauikeaouli.

The contest is sponsored by Kamehameha Investment Corporation, Kamehameha Schools, the Sheraton Keauhou Bay Resort Spa, Sam Choy’s Kai Lanai, Aloha Shoyu, Hamakua Macadamia Nut Company, Island Fesh Fish, KTA Keauhou, Tanioka’s Seafood & Catering, Young’s Market-Waivera Water, Y Hata and Great American Self-Storage.

Crowd enjoys the Celebrity Poke Cook Off (Photo special to Hawaii 24/7)

One Response to “Sam Choy’s Keauhou Poke Contest results”

  1. Gwen says:

    Thanks for the great write-up on this fun event! Here is a link to the Paniolo Shrimp Poke recipe if folks would like to check it out:


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