Madre Chocolate wins ‘best bean-to-bar’ award at Big Island festival

Likao KulaMadre Chocolate has won again at the Big Island Chocolate Festival to add to its growing suite of awards, this time bringing home the best bean-to-bar chocolate award in a competitive field for a 70 percent dark chocolate bar crafted with cacao sourced from the Likao Kula Farm, Holualoa, Kona.

This award, which Madre has won for three years running, was judged by chocolate luminaries “Mr. Chocolate” Jacques Torres of the Chocolate Haven and former executive pastry chef at Le Cirque, chef Donald Wressell of Guittard, chef Vincent Bourdin of Valrhona USA, and chef Stanton Ho of Amoretti.

David Elliott and Nat Bletter, cofounders of Madre Chocolate, were ecstatic at the news of the win, and credit much of the chocolate’s exceptional flavor to the hard work of the cacao grower, Gini Choobua, with whom they have collaborated over the last few years to perfect a post-harvest fermentation technique that highlights exquisite gooseberry and brazil nut notes in the cacao her farm produces.

Choobua’s farm is located at 1600 ft. – extremely high altitude for cacao production. The cold nighttime temperatures at this altitude are considered by many to be an obstacle to producing premium quality cacao, but Choobua has combined innovative techniques and careful study to defy the odds and produce incomparable cacao with a beautiful complexity of flavor. And the cool temperatures at this latitude and altitude do give the cacao a highly desirable quality: it produces an exceedingly creamy chocolate with an incredibly luscious texture due to the unique qualities of the natural cocoa butter found in the high altitude cacao beans.

Madre Chocolate has won 11 awards in the past two years, including an International Chocolate Award in London, making it the only award-winning chocolate company to use U.S.-grown cacao and the first Hawaiian food producer to win two “Good Food Awards.”

“We’ve been fortunate to win national and international awards that help bring recognition for the world-class cacao and chocolate that’s now being produced in Hawaii,” said the company’s “Chocolate Flavormeister” Nat Bletter.

Bletter added that “the representation and quality of locally-made chocolate at the festival is really impressive and is growing every year.”

Madre strives to connect chocophiles with the roots of chocolate, leading a variety of delightful chocolate events on a weekly basis, from cacao farm and chocolate factory tours to bean-to-bar chocolate making classes, whiskey and chocolate pairings, traditional mole-making classes, and an intensive cacao boot camp aimed at training a new generation of chocolate makers. This is what makes Madre Chocolate one of the only U.S. grown chocolates that is exported around the world for everyone to enjoy.

Whole Foods Hawaii backs taro documentary

I Am HaloaTwo Whole Foods Market Hawaii locations, at Kahala Mall and in Kailua, will be supporting the “I am Hāloa” film project in upcoming Community Support Days.

On Wednesday, May 21 at Whole Foods Kahala and Wednesday, June 11 at Whole Foods Kailua, shoppers are invited to shop in support of the project with five percent of the days’ net sales donated to Hawaii Maoli for “I am Hāloa,” the nonprofit fiscal sponsor of the independent film.

Whole Foods Market stores nationwide organize Community Support Days throughout the year.

On each of the two Community Support Days, Daniel Anthony, film documentary subjects Lahela Paresa, La’ahiahoaalohaokekaimalie Kekahuna and Taylor Anne Meali’i Fitzsimmons and other members of the pa`i`ai community will demonstrate the ancient practice of hand-pounding steamed taro into pa`i `ai and will offer samples to customers to taste.

“We are so pleased to support this important project and expand the partnership that began with Daniel as a supplier of pa`i`ai in our seafood departments,” said Dabney Gough, Marketing Team Leader at Whole Foods Market Kahala.

“Our team members are particularly excited to support the work of ‘I am Hāloa’ because their mission aligns well with our core values, and complements our own task force to bring Hawaiian staple foods such as kalo and ‘ulu into our Whole Foods Market kitchens. These projects inspire us not just to understand the culture of the community where we live and work, but to be active participants in improving the health of our friends and neighbors,” said Shannon Cardellina, Marketing Team Leader at Whole Foods Market Kailua.

“I am Hāloa” tells the story of three 17-year-old Kamehameha high school seniors, Lahela Paresa, La’ahiahoaalohaokekaimalie Kekahuna and Taylor Anne Meali’i Fitzsimmons, who embark on a 90-day journey of self-discovery under the guidance of their kumu and kalo ku’i practitioner, Daniel Anthony. Together they will travel throughout the Hawaiian Islands to better understand their ancestry and to re-establish a lifestyle link to the first Hawaiian, Hāloa. For 90-days they will commit to cultivating, harvesting and eating kalo (taro / poi) for three meals a day. During these 90-days the young women will travel from Oʻahu to Kauaʻi, Maui, Molokaʻi, Moku o Keawe, Kahoʻolawe, and Lānaʻi to learn from some of the most respected leaders in Hawaii about the past, the present, and the future role that Hāloa could play in guiding the people of Hawaii.

“I am Hāloa” will explore the inherent values and conflicts that come with incorporating Hāloa into modern lifestyles and the innovative, savory new ways this ancient, sacred food is revolutionizing global cuisine through a sustainable kalo culture. These three young women will work with several of Hawaii’s top slow-food-minded chefs who believe in cooking with fresh, locally-sourced ingredients. Chefs include Lee Anne Wong, Ed Kenney, Mark Noguchi and Andrew Le, who are committed to incorporating pa’i’ai into the menus of their progressive kitchens.

Production began on “I am Hāloa” on Tuesday, February 18, 2014. Its intensive shooting schedule continues for the next 90-days traveling throughout the islands with valued community, cultural and agricultural leaders. The public is welcome to track the documentary progress online at, on twitter and instagram at @iamhaloa and on Facebook at:

Ongoing donations are welcome in order to help send the girls to Hawaiʻi Island, Kahoʻolawe, and Lanaʻi. All donations from the website are tax deductible and will be received by Hawaii Maoli a 501(c)3 Non-profit organization under the leadership of Executive Director, Maile Alau.

Whole Foods Market was founded in 1980 in Austin, Texas, and is the leading natural and organic food retailer. As America’s first national certified organic grocer, Whole Foods Market’s company motto is “Whole Foods, Whole People, Whole Planet.” Thanks to the company’s more than 78,000 employees, Whole Foods Market has been ranked as one of the “100 Best Companies to Work For” in America by FORTUNE magazine for 15 consecutive years. In fiscal year 2013, the company had sales of $12.9 billion and currently has more than 360 stores in the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom.

Submitted by Whole Foods Market Kailua/E-PR.

Teddy’s Bigger Burgers breaks into Manila

Teddy'sTeddy’s Bigger Burgers is growing internationally, announcing nine locations in the Philippines. The Hawaii-born company confirmed its largest partnership to date, covering the next three years in Manila. The launch date of the first store is Friday, July 18, 2014, located at Greenbelt 3, Makati City.

A potential location for one of the remaining eight future Teddy’s is Newport Mall, Resorts World Manila.

Spearheaded by the High Jap Group, the Philippines opening of Teddy’s is expected to be a success with the local demographic, according to HJG’s Ricky Laudico.

“Opening in the Philippines is beyond anything we could have imagined when we started our first little burger joint,” said co-founder Rich Stula.

Other co-founder Ted Tsakiris adds, “The progress we are seeing with Teddy’s is excellent. We’re excited to launch Team Philippines!”

Eaters in the Philippines will soon taste Teddy’s handmade, 100-percent ground chuck patties, served in an iconic, lively ’50s-themed diner setting. Other classic Teddy’s menu options include turkey, chicken or veggie burgers, fish or pastrami sandwiches and salads, as well as extra thick shakes made with fresh ice cream.

Teddy’s currently operates 11 locations in Hawaii. On the mainland, Teddy’s recently opened locations in Washington and Iowa, and soon, California and Texas. Teddy’s also has a location in Japan, and will add to their international growth by breaking ground in the Philippines.

Teddy’s Bigger Burgers franchises are currently available in all territories domestic and select international markets. Territories are being awarded now to qualified franchise prospects. Please visit for information about opening a franchise in your neighborhood.

The Teddy’s brand is built on the premise of a fun, ’50s style, high-energy burger joint that features burgers, old-fashioned extra-thick shakes, excellent customer service, unique local flavors and custom concoctions in every franchise.

Submitted by Hawaii Pacific Entertainment.