Grant Tomita serves Sera Carlson and Maya Pleiadian Island Fresh milk at the Hawaii Dept. of Ag Commodities Branch booth.
“It’s all so ono,” grinned a happy attendee at this year’s Mealani’s Taste of the Hawaiian Range.
Throngs of eager eaters enjoyed cuisine prepared by 30 top chefs at the 15th annual event Friday at the Hilton Waikoloa Village. The agriculture extravaganza sprawled both inside and out, occupying the Hilton’s Grand Ballroom and Lagoon Lanai. The weather and sunset were picture-perfect.
Over 1,400 people were on hand for celebrating Hawai‘i agriculture, including the massive team of volunteers and culinary students, plus participating farmers, ranchers and trade show vendors.
While “grazing” the culinary stations and educational displays, attendees also “talked story” with the people who produce our food. There were “broke ‘da mouth” free samples of fresh food and value-added products made-on-the-Big Isle—green tea, Hawaiian Red Veal, blueberries, taro chips, ice cream topped with simmering chocolate, honey, tomato salsa—the list goes on and on.
The Sweet Soy Braised Beef Tongue prepared by Chef Cy Yamamoto of the Keauhou Beach Resort was a big hit among attendees, including Janice and Roddy Nagata. Each beef chef is assigned a different cut, from nose to tail, to illustrate the use the entire animal.
Kuhio Grille of Hilo was recognized for being a 15-year Taste participant while Cafe Pesto of Hilo, Hapuna Beach Prince Hotel and the Hilton Waikoloa Village marked 10 years with the event. Derek Kurisu, executive vice president of KTA’s Superstores and Brady Yagi and Tom Asano of Kulana Foods, were tapped with Community Service Awards for their long-term efforts toward the success of Taste. In addition, the Mealani Research Station received a Special Recognition Award.
Zero Waste Event
In its continuing effort to “go green” for it’s anniversary year, Taste boasted being a Zero Waste event. According to Angela Kang, resource specialist with the County’s Dept. of Environmental Management, the recycling effort kept hundreds of pounds of trash out of the landfill.
From left: County resource specialist Angela Kang shows Aaron Dooley where to deposit his empty bottle at one of the many Zero Waste stations with the help of volunteers Aleshia Frost and Jeremiah White.
Zero Waste was achieved by an on-site, supervised refuse system and the use of compostable beverage cups, plates and utensils. Trash stations throughout the event were monitored by volunteers and students from Kanu O Ka ‘Aina School. Each trash station had separate bins for attendees to throw away discarded food; compostable serving ware; mixed plastics and paper for the county’s recycled program; and HI-5 recyclable bottles and cans.
The Hilton Waikoloa Village, which has its own diversion waste program, took the discarded food, for donation to a local piggery. The compostable serving ware was sourced from the Big Island’s Sustainable Island Products. Money made from Hi-5 recyclables will come back to Taste.
As part of Taste’s continuing green efforts, fresh produce from the massive Kamuela Grown display was donated and packed up by volunteers for distribution by The Food Basket.
UH Manoa dietary student Lia White visits with Taste attendee Brandie Kealoha and son Tristan while they enjoy a grass-fed beef slider on homemade basil roll.
Fresh Produce Given to Food Bank
The massive Kamuela Grown display that filled the top center section of Taste was donated to The Food Basket Inc., Hawai‘i Island’s Food Bank. The array of fresh veggies is being distributed at local food banks and pantries throughout the island.