Seattle Chef Edges Out California Competition to Win “Best Poke” at I Love Poke Food Festival

Chef Jerial Calamayan of Kraken Congee takes first place during Hawaiian food festival’s inaugural visit to Seattle

Chef Jerial Calamayan of Seattle’s Kraken Congee has won the title of Best Poke at Seattle’s inaugural I Love Poke Food Festival on October 6. Calamayan edged out eight other chefs to claim the prize, including second and third place contestants Chef Wade Tamura, chef at Facebook’s headquarters in San Francisco, and San Diego’s Chef Chris Aure of Zarlitos, a two-time champion who won the I Love Poke San Diego and Orange County competitions earlier this year.

“It was an honor and a very humbling experience to be able to work alongside such renowned and great chefs,” said festival winner Chef Jerial Calamayan. “I was thankful and shocked to have won first place and am grateful to have my poke recognized. This was an amazing experience and I thank Ono Yum and Sam Choy’s Poke to the Max for putting on this event.”

Competing chefs included Chef David Dekker of 13 Coins; Chef Steven Ariel of Trace Seattle; Chef Jason Velasquez of Stone Lounge; Chefs Maylin Chavez and Melissa Mayer of Portland’s Olympia Oyster Bar; Chef Geo Quibuyen of Food & Sh*t; Chef Aaron Pate of Shiro’s Sushi; Chef Jerial Calamayan at Kraken Congee; Chef Wade Tamura from Facebook in San Francisco; and Chef Chris Aure of Zarlitos in San Diego.

Judging this year’s competition were James Beard Foundation Award winner Chef Sam Choy, prior I Love Poke 1st place champion Chef Antonio Friscia of San Diego,Seattle Magazine Food & Dining Editor Jessica Yadegaran, professional surfer and Hawaii native Hank Gaskell and Seattle food writer Jason Price.

The I Love Poke Food Festival, a Hawaiian food festival put on by Ono Yum, visited the Pacific Northwest for the first time after six years of events across Southern California. During the sold out Seattle event, held at The Stonehouse Café and created in partnership with Chef Sam Choy’s Poke to the Max Foodtrucks, chefs faced off against one another as they competed for the title of Best Poke (a traditional Hawaiian dish) while guests sampled each chef’s creations and enjoyed additional island-inspired tastes and live music from Loa Greyson.

For the latest updates on I Love Poke Festivals coming to Seattle, San Diego and Orange County in 2016, visit

About I Love Poke Food Festival & Chef Competition

The I Love Poke Food Festival & Chef Competition is a celebration of Hawaiian cuisine that features a competitive faceoff between locally-loved chefs vying for the title of “Best Poke,” a traditional Hawaiian dish commonly made with raw ahi tuna flavored with seasonings including sea salt, soy sauce, seaweed, sesame oil and other preferred ingredients. Each I Love Poke Festival also features a lineup of judges who are well-respected by the Hawaiian and foodie community, live Hawaiian music and an array of Hawaiian and Asian inspired food samplings for all guests. Since 2009, I Love Poke has grown from a beloved San Diego event to include sold out festivals in Orange County and, as of 2015, Seattle. The annual events attract more than 1,400 attendees and 30 poke competition participants. For further information visit

Written by Charles Koh

Founded EatSeattle, and has continued to use his expertise as editor-in-chief to guide the website’s growth over the last five years. Koh’s experience focuses on digital marketing and social media, and has been a part of several companies, some of which he created, specializing in both areas over the course of his career. Koh was previously with Google and Zagat where he helped expand and grow communities worldwide.

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