Nothing beats that first bite of poke: Butter-tender raw fish with a salty tang of soy, a crunch of sweet onion studded with sesame seeds or seaweed shreds and followed by a nice chili-flake kick. 

Okay, so the second bite is pretty darn good too, and the 3rd . . . and the 87th.

It’s like umami’s little helper . . . 

 And no one makes poke magic quite like Hawaiian son Sam Choy, the so-called Godfather of this now-world-famous marinated fish dish. In fact, Choy, who is consulting chef at Koloa Landing Resort, is also the headliner at its First Annual Poke Fest. On Saturday, November 2nd from 9:00 am to 4:00 pm, the resort will be transformed into a poke mecca where guests will be wowed by an array of delicious activities including a live poke demonstration from the master himself. 

Choy says that like Michael Jordan or LeBron James he just loves doing what he’s been born to do and having fun with it. “The thing is, with my recipes the magic is simple. When you start with good ingredients, it’s so easy to create great food!”

Think you have what it takes to create stellar poke, too? Think your recipe is restaurant ready? You’re in luck! The Poke Fest also features a competition for both amateur and professional chefs alike with no age restriction. Like popular TV food competitions, contestants will be given ingredients to work with and all the tools needed to create their masterpieces on site. The resulting poke creations will be judged on presentation, texture, originality, and taste by a panel of local celebrities including pro surfer Sebastian Zietz and Mel Tanioka from Oahu’s Tanioka’s Fish Market. Guests will also get to sample the entries and weigh in on their overall favorite.

Three winners will be chosen in the categories of amateur, professional and best overall.  The amateur and professional winners will each receive a trophy and a two-night stay in one of Koloa Landing’s gorgeous two-bedroom villas. The overall winner will receive round-trip airfare for two courtesy of Southwest Airlines, plus a 5-day stay at any participating Autograph Collection hotel or resort. The crowning glory for the winning dish, however, is that it will be featured on the menu of the resort’s Holoholo Grill for three months. Talk about bragging rights! 

To register to compete visit Kauai Poke Fest here or for more information you can send an email to [email protected].

Also on tap at the festival are a farmer’s market showcasing local treats and wares, a Flavors of Kauai food festival, and live entertainment. A portion of the festival’s proceeds will go to the Kauai Habitat for Humanity whose mission is to build homes, communities and hope.

Poke Fest tickets are $55 per person and are available through Eventbrite by clicking here. Each ticket includes free parking, access to the farmer’s market, Sam Choy’s poke demonstration, complimentary samples from all participating food vendors, as well as the poke competitors. Each ticket can be redeemed for one vote for the overall winning dish.

A special Kauai Poke Fest room package is available with rates starting at $289 per night which includes two tickets to the festival. To book accommodations click here or call (808) 240-6600.

Erica Karlin, Koloa Landing Resort