Third Annual "I Love Poke" Festival at Bali Hai on May 30th

May 29, 2012

The I Love Poke Festival returns to San Diego’s Bali Hai Resort tomorrow, May 30, 2012, from 6 to 9 p.m. This third annual foodie fest and competition celebrates Hawaiian culture and lifestyle, and pits fifteen of San Diego’s top chefs against one another in a competition to discover who can create the best poke in the city.

Poke (pronounced "POH-keh") is a Hawaiian delicacy traditionally made with raw ahi tuna, cut into cubes and seasoned lightly to accentuate the natural flavors of the fish with spices like soy sauce, limu (seaweed) and sesame oil.

Sponsored by, Dining Out Magazine, Hurley, King's Hawaiian, CUPS Culinary, and Transworld Surf Magazine, the I Love Poke Festival celebrates the Hawaiian culture that thrives in and around San Diego. Founder Nino Camilo, more than satisfied with this year’s lineup, looks forward to to the event’s third year being the biggest yet.

“Surfing and food are two things I love, and it’s always been a dream of mine to marry the two. I’m stoked to have sponsorship this year from respected brands that fuel my two most favorite things,” says Camilo. “I’m excited to have their support in making the I Love Poke Festival something I’ve always dreamed it to be, a celebration of the Hawaii Lifestyle that exists in California.”

For the first time in the events history, one of the coveted judging spots will be auctioned off to the highest bidder in an auction two weeks prior to the event. All proceeds from this auction, plus $5 from each event ticket purchased will go to benefit the Kona-California Scholarship, which aids Hawaiian students planning to attend college on the mainland. This food festival, limited to 500 tickets priced at $50 per person, is expected to sell out quickly, as it has done in past years.

With the price of admission attendees will be able to taste each competing chef’s poke creations in both the “Traditional” category (use of tuna is required) and the “Any Kine” category (anything goes). In addition to all the “onolicious” poke you can sample, 15 of San Diego’s best restaurants and food brands will be giving party-goers a taste of their Hawaiian, Asian and South Pacific inspired Island Cuisine, including plenty of shave ice, musubi, cupcakes, li hing mui fresh fruit and more. During this event, King’s Hawaiian, famed for its sweet Hawaiian-style rolls, will debut its much-anticipated product: a new line of hot dog buns.

A lineup of judges, including San Diego's own Top Chef star Brian Malarkey, Transworld Surf Editor-in-Chief Chris Cote and event founder Nino Camilo’s very own “Uncle Wayne” (a Hawaiian fisherman) will determine and announce which competing chefs have created the best poke dishes. Returning chefs include last year’s winners Justin Shea of Hapa J’s, Kurt Metzger of Kitchen 4140, Mike Malicdem of Raw Mana Sushi, and Kari Rich of Food Farm Truck. The festival will be emceed by San Diego’s own KUSI Weatherman Dave Scott and Jammin’ Z90’s Tati, both previous residents of Hawaii.

The I Love Poke Festival will provide a unique social atmosphere and experience to visitors, as founder Nino “Neens” Camilo has worked hard to simultaneously represent Hawaiian culture while inviting all ages and genres of people to partake equally in the festivities. An ambiance reflecting the unique culture of the Hawaiian Islands will be shared in full force during the food festival, offering San Diegans the opportunity to experience another culture and its cuisine in the space of one evening.

Bali Hai Restaurant is located at 2230 Shelter Island Drive, San Diego, CA 92106. Tickets are available at Connect with the I Love Poke Festival at or