6th Annual I LOVE POKE Festival Takes Over Bali Hai On May 26 | More Than 30 San Diego Chefs Compete For 2015 Title

May 12, 2015

The 6th Annual I LOVE POKE Festival and competition returns to the Bali Hai Restaurant in Shelter Island on Tuesday, May 26, from 6-9pm. The event will gather new and returning San Diego chefs to compete for the title of city's best poke. In addition to a lineup of poke from some of the city's top restaurants, guests will also enjoy island-inspired tastes, music and more.

Poke (pronounced 'po-KAY') means to cut or slice. It is a Hawaiian delicacy traditionally made with raw ahi tuna, cut into cubes and lightly seasoned with any number of preferential ingredients, including seaweed, soy sauce and onion, among others. 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.

A competing poke from 2014
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 or more additional restaurants.

At Pokeland, expect samplings from returning champs Chef Kurt Metzger from Kitchen 4140, Chef Keoni Simmons from Sushi on a Roll, Chef Dion Morales of Bali Hai, and Chef Alvanette Pacheco from Specialty Produce, as well as 12 other chefs. Guest judges will crown the poke champion, while live music entertains guests at the Bali Hai Restaurant’s outdoor, waterfront setting.

In addition, there will also be food samplings from 15 San Diego restaurants providing bites inspired by the tropics. The variety of sweet and savory tasters have included an array of fusion dishes such as Kalbi Kimchi Taco from Puesto, Teriyaki Chicken and Coconut Rice from Ohana Cafe, and a Coco­mac Nut Toffee from Sweet Bricks.

Supernatural Sandwiches island-inspired taste from 2014
“It’s going to be another delicious San Diego event,” said Nino “Neens” Camilo, producer of I Love Poke and founder of ONO YUM (formerly ilovemusubi.com)​. “The chefs are excited and eager to compete, and they’ve already taken to social media to scope out their competition — it’s all in the name of good food and good fun!” 

Since 2009, I Love Poke has grown from a San Diego event to include a festival in Orange County. Combined, the annual events attract more than 1,300 attendees and 25 poke competition participants, and tickets always sell out. 

I Love Poke attendees will also have a chance to win a 3­-night stay in Hawaii with Aston Hotels and Resorts. Tickets to I Love Poke are available online for $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. Get your tickets before the event inevitably sells out! For more information, visit onoyum.com and check out the promotional video below.