Articles from September 2011

Taste serves as marketing venue for food producers

In an effort to hookup local ranchers and farmers with food service buyers, Mealani’s Taste of the Hawaiian Range has a VIP Pre-Taste trade show from 5-6 p.m. During this time, participating chefs and invited resort and restaurant purchasers can “taste and see” a cornucopia of fresh foods and value-added products.

Vendors, who participate in the trade show for free, also stay for the 6-8 p.m. Taste to offer samples to the general public. Having food producers at Taste enables attendees to “talk story” with the people providing our food.

This year’s Taste hosts about 30 agriculture vendors and a dozen educational displays. Ranging from fresh hearts of palm to bottled water, all the products are locally produced. New producers strutting their stuff include Kalapana Organics-while favorites like the Hawaii Cattle Producers Cooperative and Wailea Agricultural Group-return.

Kalapana Organics

Sugar cane juice debuts by Kalapana Organics

Kalapana Organics

Debuting at this year’s event, Kalapana Organics will tout the company’s sugar cane juice. Originally called Sugar Rush, the newly named Organic Hawaiian Cane Rush comes in a line of flavors like Coco Cream. Producing the juice are Jackie Prell and “Ginger” John Caverly. The couple farms the sugar cane just north of Hilo on 18 acres in Onomea; they make the juice at their production site and adjacent new Sweet Cane Café at 1472 Kilauea Avenue in Hilo.

“We also farm lilikoi, ginger, tumeric, limes and lemons in Kalapana to flavor our organic-certified juice,” adds Prell. She says the company recently starting pasteurizing the juice with an ultraviolet Cider-Sure. “This will give it a longer shelf life and enable us to increase our distribution reach.” For more info, visit


Village Burger uses Hawaiian Ranchers Red Veal

Hawaii Ranchers Red Veal

Offered by the Hawaii Cattle Producers Co-op, Hawaiian Red Veal is produced from calves weighing up to 600 pounds, who have just been weaned off the mother cow. These young animals have eaten some grass on pasture as they have been allowed to roam freely. No hormones or antibiotics have been administered to these humanely raised animals and they have been subjected to minimal stress. Meat is pinkish-red in color and tender with enough fat to offer a mild beef flavor.

Wailea Ag

Wailea Agricultural Group's Michael Crowell and Lesley Hill

Wailea Agricultural Group

Showcasing its fresh Hawaiian heart of palm at Taste, Wailea Agricultural Group also offers a wide diversity of fresh fruit, flowers and spices. Located in Honomu, the company began operations in 1994 and is a Hawai’i Seal of Quality member.  At the helm are Michael Crowell and Lesley Hill, who met at the University of Hawai’i.

“Mealani’s Taste of the Hawaiian Range is a wonderful way for the community to see all the agricultural products coming from the Big Island,” explains Hill. “It is our 13th year and during our participation, we’ve been able to educate attendees about heart of palm-what it is and how it tastes.” For more info, visit

Mealani’s Taste of the Hawaiian Range is 6-8 p.m. and sprawls from the Hilton’s Grand Ballroom to the Lagoon Lanai. Pre-Taste activities include a 3 p.m. culinary demo, with sampling, Grass-Fed Beef Cooking 101.

Ticket prices for the evening Taste and Cooking demo are conveniently sold online at Taste tickets remain priced at $40 presale and $60 at the door, while the cooking demo is $10. The above link also lists ticket sale locations.


Nine New Faces, Preparations Debut at 2011 Taste

They’ll be creating everything from Hawaiian Tea-Infused Beef Brisket to tempura-fried Hamburger Lollipops. Nine new restaurants and their chefs are participating at the 16th Mealani’s Taste of the Hawaiian Range and Agriculture Festival on Friday, Sept. 30 at the Hilton Waikoloa Village.

They join a total of 35 culinary stations offering local, forage-fed meats prepared with fresh fruit and vegetables. Meats on the menu include a variety of dry-aged, grass-fed beef cuts—everything from tongue to tail—plus lamb, mutton, goat, pork and wild boar.

Four of Taste’s culinary newbies are also fresh to the Big Isle’s dining scene: Sam Choy’s Kai Lanai of Keauhou-Kona, Eddie Aikau Restaurant & Museum in Waikoloa, Kohala Burger & Taco in Kawaihae and Red Water Café in Waimea.

Chef David Abrahams

Chef David Abrahams

Chef David Abrahams of Red Water Café and Hawaii Gourmet Society will be making savory roast beef from grass-fed beef bottom round. Each culinary station gets 100 pounds of meat to concoct into a delicious culinary creation.

“What’s fun about Taste is our meat assignment is a surprise so we’re challenged to come up with a dish,” says Abrahams, who participated before at Taste while with Merriman’s. “I’ve been assigned everything from tongue to tripe and getting bottom round, a flavorful cut, is a plus. I’ll be doing a special preparation, I’ve been mulling around a few ideas.”

Taste’s format of assigning chefs a variety of meat cuts fulfills its goal of educating both chefs and attendees that all the cuts of grass-finished beef can be enjoyed. In addition, with more of the animal being used, there is less waste and the value of the product goes up—a plus for the local livestock industry.

Chef Ken Takahashi

Chef Ken Takahashi

While Hilo native and Waiakea High School alum Chef Ken Takahashi also isn’t new to Taste, his year-old restaurant is. The owner of Honolulu Burger Company on O’ahu is assigned grass-fed ground beef and he’ll be making Hamburger Lollipops to wow Taste attendees.

“We’ll be using shitake mushrooms from Hamakua, feta cheese from Naked Cow Dairy and Maui onions to craft the ground beef into the meatball treats,” details Takahashi, who prides himself in using as much Hawai’i product as possible. “Then we’ll tempura fry the meat on the stick. It’s going to be fun and I look forward to coming home.”

Also returning to Taste, but with a new restaurant, is Chef Kapolanialaimaka “Kapo” Kealoha of 4Kings Kitchen in Honolulu. Other O’ahu eating establishments making their debut include the Pagoda Restaurant in Honolulu and ‘Umeke Market in Kahala.

Chef Robert Wemischner

Chef Robert Wemischner

Earning his Taste culinary chops all the way from California is chef and author Robert Wemischner. The Los Angeles-based professional pastry chef and culinary educator has authored four books: The Vivid Flavors Cookbook, Gourmet to Go, Cooking with Tea and The Dessert Architect. He comes to Taste on the heels of preparing a host of tea-infused delectables at the LA International Tea Festival.

“I’m looking forward to being the only mainland chef to participate, tying together Hawaiian-grown beef and tea in a tea-braised brisket with wasabi cream,” details Wemischner. He will use a combination of oolong and black teas and says his dish will showcase “the best of localvore eating.”

Mealani’s Taste of the Hawaiian Range is 6-8 p.m. and sprawls from the Hilton’s Grand Ballroom to the Lagoon Lanai. Pre-Taste activities include a culinary demo, with sampling, on how to use and prepare 100 percent pasture-raised beef. Time is 3 p.m. for the 2011 installment of Grass-Fed Beef Cooking 101. This year’s guest presenter is KTA’s Derek Kurisu of TV’s “Living in Paradise.”

Tickets prices for the evening Taste and Cooking 101 demo are conveniently sold online at Taste tickets remain priced at $40 presale and $60 at the door, while the fee for the cooking demo is $10. The above link also lists ticket sale locations.