By Nadine Kam
Nadine Kam photos
One of the entries in the "Anything Goes" category of Fresh Catch's "Hogs Gone Wild" Up in Smoke cook-off. Crab-stuffed red and yellow bell peppers were wrapped with smoked bacon.
One of the food events I look forward to each year is Fresh Catch's "Up in Smoke" cook-off, with this year's 5th annual themed "Hogs Gone Wild" and taking place at Cycle City & JN Automotive Group, at 600 Puuloa Road and Nimitz Highway.
It's because those who don't live with—as I don't anymore—or know any hunters, don't have much access to the result of the hunt, the smoked meat that is the reward for a day's labor and uncertainty over whether one will be able find and track a worthwhile target.
The annual event is a labor of love hosted by Fresh Catch's Reno Henriques, and made possible by the participating teams, who work year 'round to perfect their smoked dishes for the annual competition.
Event host Reno Henriques, of Fresh Catch, left, invited judges' victor Lisa Dejournett of VRM Pit Crew, and People's Choice winners Shawn, second from left, and Curtis Bautista, representing Always Smok'n Sum'n, to the event's throwdown competition, which resulted in a grand prize win for Always Smok'n Sum'n.
In keeping with the hog theme, many a spectator pulled up on a Harley, and a few classic cars also made their way through the parking lot in a mini parade.
Of course the highlight of the day is the opportunity to taste the myriad assortment of smoked meat, that ranged from the top-billed pork, various seafood, Molokai axis deer, and most unusual for me, Capt. Smokey's Alaska black bear, which, coated in a teriyaki-style marinade, simply tasted like beef jerky! It was the work of Henriques' brother Dominic.
Fresh Catch Hawaii locations are at 3109 Waialae Ave. (808.735.POKE) and 45-1118 Kamehameha Highway in Kaneohe (808.235.POKE).
Alaska black bear jerky was one of the offerings, courtesy of the Capt. Smokey team, led by Dominic Henriques, brother of Fresh Catch's Reno Henriques.
Dishes were judged on smoked taste, tenderness and appearance. Judges selection count as 75 percent of a contestant’s overall score. People’s Choice selection will count for 25 percent.
The grand prize victor, winning over both judges and the people's choice voters, was Alwayz Smok'n Sum'n, which placed in all five of the competition categories: pork, fish, chicken, beef and anything goes.
VRM Pit Crew, which came in 4th place last year in the smoked pork category, and 2nd in the smoked beef category, moved to the top of the heap in both contests this year. In the pork category, the crew traded places with Guava Smoked, who came in first last year. But don't cry for the Guava Smoked crew, which moved from second place last year to first position this year in both the smoked chicken and anything goes categories.
Here's one guy lucky to have avoided being a main course. Cesar, rescued as a young boar in the Waiahole-Waikane valley, is now a beloved 3-year-old pet who likes eating smoked pork and McDonald's french fries but rejects Jack in the Box fries, according to his owner. Cesar was the only living boar at the event. Others were splayed out on the back of trucks.
GRAND PRIZE and PEOPLE'S CHOICE OVERALL
Alwayz Smok'n Sum'n, $1,000
1st place: VRM Pit Crew, $1,000 cash award
2nd place: Alwayz Smok'n Sum'n, $ 500
3rd place: Smokin' Shiggy, $100
4th place: Guava Smoked, $50
5th place: Smo'KING, $100 gift certificate
6th place: Team Hoku, $50 gift certificate
7th place: (tie) Simply Smoked ABCDE, and Pilau M/C Oahu, $25
1st place: Action Smokers, $250
2nd place: Guava Smoked, $100
3rd place: Smo'KING, $100 gift certificate
4th place: Diamond Head Market & Grill, $50
5th place: Alwayz Smok'n Sum'n, $ 50 gift certificate
6th place: Capt. Smokey, $25
1st place: Guava Smoked, $250
2nd place: VRM Pit Crew, $100
3rd place: (tie) Smokin' Shiggy, and Action Smokers, $100 gift certificate
5th place: Alwayz Smok'n Sum'n, $50
6th place: Team Hoku, $25
1st place: VRM Pit Crew, $250
2nd place: (tie) Capt. Smokey, and Prime Time Smoker, $100
4th place: Alwayz Smok'n Sum'n, $50
5th place: Smokin' Shiggy; $50 gift certificate
1st place: Guava smoked, $250
2nd place: Capt. Smokey, $100
3rd place: Alwayz Smok'n Sum'n, $100 gift certificate
4th place: Action Smokers, $50
5th place: VRM Pit Crew, $50 gift certificate
6th place: Prime Time Smoker, $25
Smoked pork offered to attendees.
Theme of the day, with a touch of the tropics.
One of the judge, 3660 on the Rise chef Russell Siu, shows some of the pork offerings awaiting judges' verdicts.
Smoked salmon was one of the entries in the fish category. Others offered salmon fillets and crisped salmon skin.
A combination of smoked lobster, scallops and fish were entered in the "Anything Goes" category.
Attendees could also sample various Rockstar energy drinks. I tried the peach tea in the yellow can second from left.
For those hungry for more than smoked meat, host Fresh Catch was offering a variety of fresh poke, plus such hot dishes as ahi katsu and pastele stew.
The event took place at Cycle City at 600 Puuloa Road, where inside, people could shop for hogs and Harley-Davidson gear.
I had to get these gloves for summer driving, when the steering wheel gets too painfully hot.
Everyone who attended had the opportunity to select the People's Choice winner.