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Great Adobo Cook-Off makes Honolulu hungry for more

/ 02:04 AM June 17, 2017

Tante’s Island Cuisine won the overall Best Adobo, obtaining the Judges’ Award and Best Presentation award. INQUIRER/Lalaine Ignao

HONOLULU — Over the years, adobo has become one of the most well-known Filipino dishes, after lumpia and balut, of course. So, when Cecilia Villafuerte of the Philippine Celebrations Coordinating Committee of Hawaii (PCCCH) began planning for this year’s festivities, she wanted to spice things up a bit to commemorate Philippine Independence Day.


“I wanted excitement. I did a Filipino Flavors event in 2009 at the FilCom Center and I wanted to continue it. So now that I became a chair for the Celebrations Committee, I wanted to do another Filipino food flavors event and I thought that adobo is the easiest thing to do but there is a variation of it. You can put pork, chicken, shrimp, anything,” Villafuerte explains.

Thus began the very first Adobo Festival in Hawaii.

From June 1 to June 7, several restaurants showcased their best adobo recipes for customers to try. They included L&L Hawaiian Barbecue, Shay’s Cafe, North Star Deli & Sausage and Kambingan Filipino.

“I sent letters to all the restaurants about what we are doing with forms asking if they wanted to do it. So all of these restaurants volunteered themselves to participate,” says Villafuerte.

Attendees sample the adobo entries. INQUIRER/Lalaine Ignao


A set of chefs, including PJ Quesada who started The Filipino Food Movement, came to judge the contestants’ adobo recipes. The competition took place on June 8 at the Philippine Consulate where a small, intimate gathering of people witnessed the event.

As each restaurant prepared for the main judging, the cooks presented their dishes creatively for all the guests to see and taste.

The Philippine Celebrations Coordinating Committee of Hawaii (PCCCH) provided four awards: The Judges’ Award, Best Presentation, Most Creative and People’s Choice. But the biggest winner did not only receive title of “The Best Adobo,” but also got a plaque and a round-trip ticket to the Philippine courtesy of Philippine Airlines.


Shay’s Cafe’s adobo pizza bagged the People’s Choice award and Most Creative award. INQUIRER/Lalaine Ignao

The awards were handed out during the Philippine Independence Day Gala on Saturday, June 10, at the Hilton Hawaiian Village.

Attendees tasted the different adobo dishes, from adobo pizza to adobo with pineapple. All the dishes tasted delicious, and it was a difficult choice for the judges and attendees to decide which entries deserved awards.

Satisfied judges, with leis, and some tasters pose for a groupie. INQUIRER/Lalaine Ignao

But at the end of the night, two restaurants took home the honors. Shay’s Cafe with its adobo pizza won the People’s Choice award and Most Creative award, while Tante’s Island Cuisine won the overall Best Adobo, obtaining the Judges’ Award and Best Presentation award.

A lot of work went into creating the Adobo Festival, including logistics in handling the food, finances and planning the event.

“I became most excited about promoting our Filipino culture and promoting the businesses as well. We’re all volunteers so we meet at night and plan together. Next year’s chair wants to continue doing this event and now that we learned so much from this experience, she knows what to do,” Villafuerte reports.


There are plans to make the next Great Adobo Cook-off bigger, with more sponsors and charging attendees for the right to salivate.

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TAGS: adobo cooking contest Honolulu, Filipino adobo, Kambingan Filipino, L&L Hawaiian Barbecue, North Star Deli & Sausage, Philippine Celebrations Coordinating Committee of Hawaii (PCCCH), Shay’s Cafe, signature Filipino dish, The Filipino Food Movement
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