Late night (early morning) rant from a tired (but happy) event curator…
I Love Poke San Diego 2016 was magical. Don’t think of a food festival. Think of a family gathering, where near 35 families all chipped in and brought food for everyone to share. Korean BBQ cheese melts, sliders, ube toffee!!!!, ice cream macarons, shave ice, snow ice, plate lunch kine stuffs, ramen and LOTS of POKE. And just like a family gathering each dish was created with love, not trying to out do each other, but also trying to out do each other. There’s always that Auntie or Uncle, that makes that dish, that everyone remembers from that event. And that’s the win. The smiles. The pride. The knowing that what I fed my family made them so happy and they all think I’m rad cuz I made the best dish.
This is what I Love Poke is. Sure, we have judges. But the judges are mostly family. Sure there are winners and not winners, but hey, it’s a competition and not everyone gets a pineapple plaque. This is ILP not AYSO. But lez-be-honest… there wasn’t a bad poke in the bunch tonight. Everybody killed it! Minds were blown and mouths were broken all freakin night long. So cheeehooo (das Hawaiian for “cheers”) to everybody! Congratulations on putting on an event that gave all 800+ attendees a poke experience that will be very very hard to top (on the mainland). I need to get some sleep so let’s get to the point.
Bragging rights are what it’s all about, but it’s also nice to get prizes. This year our 1st, 2nd and 3rd place winning chef took home a top of the line rice cooker from Tiger Corporation and a backpack from Vessel Bags. The 1st place winning chef also got an Olukai gift pack to outfit the whole crew with new slippaz.
THIRD PLACE – Chef James Montejano (The People’s Chef) and crew (and minion) of Seaside Market, Cardiff.
SECOND PLACE – Chef Billy “Butter” Joyce and crew of Surfside Cuisine.
FIRST PLACE – Chef Austin Roberto and crew of SOAR (Sushi On A Roll)
All photos Ron Pareja