The I Love Poke Festival celebrated its 4th annual tasting event and competition at The Hilton Waterfront Beach Resort in Huntington Beach. The sold out event brought poke connoisseurs and newcomers together to celebrate the Hawaiian delicacy, lifestyle and culture as 11 chefs went head-to-head for the title of best poke. In the end, Chefs Chris Aure and “Big Mike” of Zarlitos Restaurant in San Diego came out on top with their spicy poke rendition prepared with Yellowfin tuna, sesame oil, soy sauce, minced garlic, chili flakes, roasted black sesame seeds, green onions and chili oil.
The second place winner was Chef Maui Canosa of True World Foods who created a Lilikoi-infused Kiawe Smoked Salmon Poke of sustainable New Zealand salmon (kiawe smoked), fresh organic lilikoi, cucumber, red onions, chives, honey, togarashi and mirin.
There was a tie for third place between Chef Hiko Hori of Good Choice Sushi and Chef Vu Nguyen of Sushi Studio Arts. Hori’s version of pokeincluded Big Eye tuna, green onion, Maui onion, Togarashi sesame oil, soy sauce, Hawaiian rock salt, Alaea salt, macadamia nuts and chipotle mayo while Nguyen’s was made with fresh salmon, seaweed salad, wasabi aioli and caviar.
The I Love Poke Festival featured chefs who competed for the title with their unique versions of the popular fish dish. Notable participants included Rayne Frey of MRK Public, Shawn Gole of North Shore Poke Co., Octavio Montoya and Renato Sampaga of Stadium Brew Co., and Julio Hawkins of Fly-n-Fish Oyster Bar. Poke, pronounced “Poh-kay” means to cut or slice and is traditionally prepared as a raw salad of fish, sea salt and any number of preferential ingredients. Festival goers were able to sample the poke as a panel of guest judges evaluated each dish based on presentation, quality of ingredients and flavor, to crown the winner.
Attendees also sampled Hawaiian and Asian-inspired dishes from 12 additional food concepts, including Minotaur Korean BBQ Kimchi Grilled Cheese from San Diego’s Supernatural Sandwich, Hula Girls Shave Ice and Dough Dough’s Malasadas. In additional to the battle for “Best Poke” and unlimited tastings from popular chefs and restaurants, the event also featured live music from Orange County local Loa Greyson, cocktails, a family-friendly atmosphere and waterfront setting.
posted by Andrea Gonzalez 7/13/15