5th Annual I Love Poke Festival Returns to San Diego's Bali Hai Next Tuesday, May 20 | 2014 Festival Announces Competing Chefs, Participating Restaurants and Impressive Panel of Judges

May 14, 2014

San Diego’s 5th Annual I Love Poke Festival and food competition returns to Shelter Island's Bali Hai to celebrate Hawaiian culture and cuisine on Tuesday, May 20 from 6 -9pm. I Love Poke Festival is proud to announce that this year’s tasting event will feature 30 of San Diego’s top chefs and restaurants. The event will also include a special performance by internationally known Hawaiian musician and ukulele extraordinaire, Troy Fernandez. This annual event is always a sell-out, so get your tickets now!

For those who don't know, poke (pronounced 'po-KAY') is a Hawaiian delicacy traditionally made with raw ahi tuna, cut into cubes and lightly seasoned. I Love Poke Festival’s founder, Nino Camilo, believes in the importance of sustainable ahi tuna fishing and bringing awareness to the risk of overfishing, so the competition will offer one additional point automatically for those participating chefs who use seafood procured with sustainable practices.

The festival is broken up into two sections: Pokeland - where 12-15 chefs compete for the “Best Poke” crown, and Foodland - a place for attendees to sample Hawaiian and Asian inspired food from 15+ additional restaurants.

Bringing in the Hawaiian heat, this year’s festival will feature Chef Nakoa Pabre from Umeke’s Kailua-Kona, the FIRST ever competitor to fly in from Hawaii to compete. Chef Nakoa Pabre will join a number of local competing chefs to vie for the title of "Best Poke.” Each chef will help promote the importance of sustainability and fishing responsibly by striving to use sustainable seafood. Participating chefs in the Pokeland competition include:

• Chef Nakoa Pabre of Umeke’s Kailua-Kona - New contender from Hawaii
• Home Chef Rob of Hawaii and Cardiff-by-the-Sea - The festival’s only home chef sponsored by a local business
• Chef Christopher Spayde (returning 3rd place champion from 2013) of Blue Wave Bar & Grill
• Terra American Bistro and Harney Sushi (1st Place TIE returning champions from 2013)

A panel of judges well versed in poke will evaluate each dish in Pokeland based on presentation, quality of ingredients and flavor, then crown a winner. Judges include: Hawaiin surf legend, Ben Aipa; Alison Teal from the hit TV show Naked & Afraid; Chef Antonio Friscia, formerly of Gaijin Noodle House (2012 Winner) and head chef at soon-to-open Don Chido; Tommy Gomes of Catalina Offshore Products; and more!

For those that want more than poke, enter Foodland - a place for attendees to sample Hawaiian and Asian inspired food from local San Diego restaurants. Participating chefs/restaurants and what they will be serving include:

• Puesto - Collaborating with I Love Poke founder, Nino, to create an Asian Hawaiian inspired taco.
• L&L El Cajon - Asian-inspired Ramen Burger
• Hodad’s – Popular Guido Slider
• Ohana Café - Traditional Hawaiian favorite, Spam Musubi
• The Cravory - Joining I Love Poke for the first time with their Halo-Halo Filipino-inspired cookie
• Zeke’s Shave Ice - Taiwanese Shaved Snow

Tickets for the 5th annual I Love Poke are $65 and include unlimited food samplings. Bali Hai will also be serving their famous Mai Tai's and a full cash bar. Bali Hai Restaurant is located at 2230 Shelter Island Dr. For more information, visit ilovemusubi.com/poke and check out the promotional video below.

I Love Poke Festival 2013 from Balestra Entertainment on Vimeo.