Articles from August 2016

Ten new exhibitors meet attendees at Taste

Taste welcomes several new exhibitors—both educational and new food products— to the 2016 lineup of 30-some booths. They include Paradise Hawaii Balsamics, FarmWorks Hawaii, Orchid Isle Traders, Rapid ‘Ohi‘a Death, Spicy Ninja Sauce, Beyond Organic Consulting, Hawaii Lassi-Akaml Foods, USDA Farm Service Agency, Waimea Butcher Shop and UH-CTAHR Veterinary Extension. We share what four of them are up to:

Orchid Isle Traders

Orchid Isle Traders

Products from Orchid Isle Traders
Credit: Orchid Isle Traders

Focusing on spices, flavors and value-added products by local food producers, veteran food journalist and cookbook author Sonia Martinez and retired engineer Kevan Kendrick have opened Orchid Isle Traders.

Focusing on spices, flavors and value-added products by local food producers, veteran food journalist and cookbook author Sonia Martinez and retired engineer Kevan Kendrick have opened Orchid Isle Traders.

The product list ranges from kahili ginger-infused green tea to whole cloves, vanilla extract, naturally dried tropical fruits and locally made fruit butters. Some items are sold under the new Orchid Isle Traders brand.

“We buy local vanilla beans and make our own extract or sell a trio of ready-to-use beans,” shared Martinez, a Cuba native and co-owned of the former Akaka Falls Inn. “We also import items we can’t yet source locally but are valuable to culinarians.

The company’s mission is to create new connections between small Hawai‘i Island growers, processors and artisans, while creating a new, web-based outlet for markets beyond our shores.

Martinez shares Orchid Isle is “looking for local growers of cardamom, cumin and other select spices. Website is in the works,

Rapid ʻŌhiʻa Death


Cut trunk of an infected ‘oh‘ia showing the dark starburst-like staining pattern of the fungus around the outer ring of wood. The xylem or water-conducting cells are located in the outer ring.
Credit: J.B. Friday

ʻOhiʻa lehua is Hawaiʻi’s most abundant native tree and covers more than one million acres throughout the state. The tree is considered the backbone of our native forests, which are a source of fresh drinking and irrigation water. ʻOhiʻa forests are also highly important for forest cover, habitat for native animals and plants, aesthetic beauty, recreation and the perpetuation of Hawaiian cultural traditions.

Over the last half-decade, hundreds of thousands of ʻohiʻa trees across more than 34,000 acres on the Big Isle have been killed by a new disease, locally named Rapid ʻOhiʻa Death (ROD).

“Caused by a fungus called Ceratocystis fimbriata, the disease kills ʻohiʻa trees by destroying the water-conducting cells and preventing water from reaching the leaves,” says Corie Yanger, ROD Educational/Outreach Specialist at the University of Hawai‘i College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources. “Once infected, crowns of entire trees turn yellow to brown and then die within days to weeks. Rapid ʻOhiʻa Death is still isolated to Hawaiʻi Island and help is needed to ensure it doesn’t spread.”

Yanger will share info and brochures at the ʻŌhiʻa Death table. Learn more at and engage with UH experts on Facebook at

Paradise Hawaii Balsamics
Independent Distributor of Hawaii Balsamics

Paradise Hawaii Balsamics

25-star vinegar infused with flavors
Credit:Paradise Hawaii Balsamics

Using top grade, 25-star Italian balsamic vinegar, Hawaii Balsamics creates 29 flavors of vinegar. Selections showcase isle ingredients like mango, guava, lilikoi and pineapple while others vinegars are infused with fig, ginger, espresso, grapefruit, white garlic and blackberry.

With the slogan “Taste the Wow,” company favorites include Garlic Cilantro and the Coconut Lime. The vinegars are also available for traveling in TSA-approved 100ml sizes.

“We combine the flavors of Italy and the Big Island,” says co-distributor Eden Patino.

Concocting the flavors is Tamar Gilson, Hawaii Balsamics owner, who came up with the product “to make salads more appealing.”

The line of vinegars is sold at the Maku‘u Farmers Market in Kea‘au, Hilo Farmers Market, Kapohokine Adventures in Hilo and online. Find recipes for using the vinegars—like Candied Bacon and Avocado Balsamic Toast— at

FarmWorks Hawaii

Diana Duff founder, FarmWorks Hawaii

Diana Duff founded FarmWorks Hawaii
Credit: FarmWorks Hawaii

Have you just bought property and wonder what you can grow best at your new location? Need guidance choosing crop insurance or attaining organic certification? FarmWorks Hawaii can help.

Comprised of a team of four women, each with at least 10 years of agriculture experience, FarmWorks provides a range of consulting services covering a broad range of topics. Find out how to get a farm started or improve a working farm.

“After selling my farm, I decided I wanted to do some advising and so opened FarmWorks Hawaii,” shared Diana Duff, who writies a Sunday ag/gardening column in West Hawaii Today. She grew coffee, banana and salad greens on her farm. “I had so much experience, and enjoy helping others, so figured it would be a good fit.”

Others soon decided they had something to contribute and asked to join the mix. The team includes livestock and acquaculture expert Sara Moore; organic cacao farmer Melanie Bondera, who is experienced at grant writing, business plans, co-op forming and organic certification; and crop advisor Kathy Fleming, a landscape designer, coffee and tumeric farmer.

Launched nearly a year ago, FarmWorks can guide clients in securing USDA funding opportunities, working with other agricultural agencies and dealing with Kamehameha Schools. Get advice on including all kinds of livestock into your farm and how to find volunteer workers, interns or agricultural apprentices. For info, visit


Taste Welcomes Several New Culinary Participants

Several new restaurants are participating at the 2016 Mealani’s Taste of the Hawaiian Range: Waipi‘o Cookhouse, Waikoloa’s Daylight Mind Coffee CompanyMonstera, The Fish Hopper, Ippy’s Hawaiian Barbeque and Noodle Club. They join the 30-some culinarians who will be preparing pasture-raised meats a variety of different ways for attendees.

Waipi‘o Cookhouse

Wapio Cookhouse

From left: Wapi‘o Cookhouse owner Larry Vidlak with Krystle Cabrera, manager and Chef Charven Rodrigues.
Courtesy Wapio‘o Cookhouse

Located one mile before the famed Waipi‘o Valley Lookout, this restaurant has a unique distinction of being built right on a working farm. Owner Larry Vidlak says in order to build a restaurant on the 17 acre Kanahonua Farms, he had to agree to source all local available food from the state first—before importing anything.

With some background working with cattle, Vidlak bought the farm acreage in 2010 and put in some fencing. A barn came next and then he decided to build the restaurant. “I got into the food service business by accident,” he laughs. The farm produces grass-fed beef, lamb, bananas, avocados, mangos, coconut, cherries, papaya, lilikoi and herbs.

With a menu big on locally produced food, Waipi‘o Cookhouse serves fresh, smoked meats for breakfast, lunch and dinner. “The brisket and ribs are prepared here in a seven-food barbecue pit with two double doors and three racks. I get up at 3 a.m. to light the fire and oversee the barbecuing. We smoke the breakfast sausage, which is seasoned with our herbs.”

At the culinary helm is Chef Charven Rodrigues, who has acreage down in Waip‘o Valley that provides the hoio (edible fern), lu‘au leaf and watercress used in menu items. Vidlak adds, “We serve fresh Hawai‘i eggs and all our burgers, lamb and beef are from our ranch. We have a certified imu in the ground to prepare kalua pork.”

Waipi‘o Cookhouse is preparing beef brisket for Taste; follow the restaurant on facebook,

Daylight Mind Coffee Company Waikoloa

Ash Danao

Chef Ash Danao
Courtesy Daylight Mind Coffee Company

While Daylight Mind Chef Ash Danao has already participated in Taste three times with the former Keauhou Beach Hotel, the new Waikoloa location of Daylight Mind at Queens’ MarketPlace is making its debut.

A native of Honaunau in south Kona, Danao boasts culinary stints at Keauhou’s Akule Supply Company and his own former restaurant, Rolls With It. He is also a winner at a past Sam Choy’s Keauhou Poke Contest.

The menus are the same at both the Kona and Waikoloa Daylight Mind restaurants and chef describes them as having a “local, farm-to-table atmosphere.” Daylight Mind serves pasture-raised beef and chef says his favorite cut is the boneless short rib.

“Once you try our loco moco breakfast/lunch or braised short ribs with demi for dinner, you’ll understand why,” he confides. Chef is preparing beef cross rib for Taste.

For info on both locations, visit


The Fish Hopper

Pedro Almazan

Chef Pedro Almazan
Courtesy The Fish Hopper

Executive Chef Pedro Almazan of Mexico City brings his American-style cuisine to Taste for The Fish Hopper. A seafood and steakhouse restaurant located on Ali‘i Drive in Kailua-Kona, The Fish Hopper is popular for macadamia-crusted mahimahi, fresh ahi, bone-in ribeye and New York Steak. The restaurant is renown for award-winning, “Monterey Style” clam chowder. You can get it for takeout—up to 10 gallons at a time!

The restaurant uses local beef for its specials and chef says flavorful and tender rib steak is his favorite local beef cut. Chef is assigned ground beef for Taste.

Chef Almazan got into the food service business while living in Monterey, Calif., working as a line cook with the local Fish Hopper. Before coming to Kona, he also worked at Bubba Gump’s in Monterey and Honolulu.

Find menus for breakfast, lunch and dinner at


Located upstairs at The Shops at Mauna Lani, Monstera is popular for sushi and has menu items typical of noodle houses and izakayas (Japanese pubs). Open for dinner nightly, Monstera offers a wide selection of sushi, specialty rolls, sizzling platters, small plates and hot and chilled noodle selections prepared under the supervision of Chef Norio Yamamoto.

Trained in Tokyo, Chef Yamamoto is a master sushi chef who has more than two decades of experience working in the culinary industry. Debuting at this year’s Taste, Monstera is assigned beef chuckroll. For details,

Ippy’s Hawaiian Barbeque

Food Network star Ippy Aiona is not new to Taste, but his Hawaiian Barbeque restaurant is. Chef Aiona previously represented his Three Fat Pigs gastropub at Taste, but this year he’s preparing feral pork with his BBQ plate lunch restaurant in mind.

Offering counter service in the Queens’ MarketPlace food court, Ippy’s Hawaiian Barbeque serves BBQ ribs and more served with Ippy’s specialty sauces. Favorites include The Gravy Burger, Roasted Pork with Crispy Onions and the Grilled Mahi Burger with passionfruit tartar sauce. For info, visit

Noodle Club

Chef Edwin Goto, owner of long-time Taste participant Village Burger, is debuting his new eatery, Noodle Club, and assigned beef shank. Both restaurants are at Parker Ranch Center in Waimea.

With the same sustainability focus at Village Burger, Noodle Club “supports local farmers and ranchers…one bowl at a time.” Local pasture-raised beef is on the Noodle Club menu: rib-eye is marinated in teriyaki, skewered and grilled; the Bowl of Seoul soup features braised beef brisket and the Big Pho King Bone stars beef bone marrow. Find Noodle Club at