In the Mix: BBQ meets Mai Tais at Royal Kona Resort
Photos by Jason Genegabus / firstname.lastname@example.org
By Jason Genegabus
KAILUA-KONA » Before more than 20 bartenders lined up at the Royal Kona Resort to determine the “World’s Best Mai Tai” last weekend, a handful of Big Island restaurants squared off in a “Battle of the BBQ” competition during the Second Annual Don the Beachcomber Mai Tai Festival.
Just steps from the Pacific Ocean on the Kona coast, hotel guests and local residents mingled on a well-manicured lawn and sampled contest entries while also perusing a Mai Tai Marketplace set up in the same area. Maui’s Eric Gilliom was on hand to provide musical entertainment during the afternoon.
Roy’s Waikoloa sous chef Elu Rapozo prepares his restaurant’s entry, Lolo Burgers, made “local style” with a special kim chee mayo.
Billy Lum of Tante’s Restaurant holds a plate of Jawaiian Jerk Pork Ribs.
Big Island honey purveyor The Local Buzz displays a variety of products as part of the Mai Tai Marketplace at the Royal Kona Resort.
The Local Buzz is a family operation. Owners Scott Buske, right, and Lili Rodriguez, second from right, pose with Buske’s son Chris Buske, left, and daughter-in-law Erin Buchanan.
Business was steady at Big Jake’s Island BBQ.
Romano’s Macaroni Grill Kona general manager Robert Keon keeps an eye on some barbeque chicken during the competition.
Judges for the “Battle of the BBQ” were Hawaii Community College’s Paul Heerlein, left, and American Culinary Federation Kona Kohala Chefs Association president William Kaluakini Trask.
“Big Jake” from Big Jake’s Island BBQ accepts the People’s Choice Award for his restaurant’s entry.
Chef James “Muzzy” Fernandez of Jackie Rey’s in Kona accepts the judges’ award for “World’s Best BBQ” at the Royal Kona Resort.
Chef Fernandez conducts a radio interview after being announced the winner.
Fernandez poses for a photo with staff from Jackie Rey’s and the winning dish, BBQ pork spears with a Mai Tai yogurt dressing.
Ed Kaneko takes a break while weaving hats during the festival.
Kay Kaneko, left, and Mayo Chinn weave hats while talking story.
Biggah Mo Bettah’s Ed Nava shows off some of the T-shirt designs his company produces.
Dennis Ancheta, a bouncer at nearby Lulu’s Restaurant, chats with guests while selling a variety of woven items.
Carver Awi Niu, background, talks with a customer while selling his finished products at the Mai Tai Marketplace last weekend.
Maui’s Eric Gilliom was the featured musical performer during the “Battle of the BBQ.”
Bartender Ricky Supnet has a fantastic view from his poolside “office” at the Royal Kona Resort.
Garnishes inside one of the hotel’s meeting rooms took on a pirate theme as Jeff “Beachbum” Berry prepared to give a lecture on the life and cocktails of Don the Beachcomber.
Berry, right, conducts his own quality control, taste testing the cocktails he’ll sample for guests with Better Brands’ Joey Gottesman.
Berry talks about the life of Don the Beachcomber and how he was able to win over so many people with cocktail recipes that were typically ahead of their time.