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Chefs Pair with Specific Ranches and Farms

As shared in our last blog, Taste offers a new presentation format for seven culinary stations (out of a total of 30). Seven chefs will be paired with meat from a specific ranch and produce from a specific farm and they will be out on the Lagoon Lanai. These food “players” will be identified by signage at their culinary stations for attendees. Event chair Jeri Moniz says the purpose for the pairings is to foster more communication between food producers and the user of their products—chefs.  We checked in with more of the partnered ranchers and chefs to get their take on the challenges of providing local beef and the benefits of using it.

KK Ranch with The Feeding Leaf

Rancher Jason Moniz

Rancher Jason Moniz with Tee
Credit: Photo courtesy KK Ranch

KK Ranch is located near Kalopa/Pa‘auilo and has a herd of 700 cows on 5,200 acres on the Hamakua Coast. Rancher Jason Moniz says KK is predominately a cow-calf operation that finishes most of its animals on the Mainland through the Country Natural Beef cooperative program, meaning the cattle are fed a combination of pasture and other natural products with no added hormones or antibiotics. KK keeps and finishes some of its herd here on the Big Isle for local consumption, including 50 animals in 2013.

In the business for 26 years, Moniz says the biggest challenge for keeping local beef at home is increasing feed for cattle here on island. There aren’t many places where the weather is conducive to produce adequate forage year round. He says this not only applies to Hawai‘i, but also to the Mainland U.S.

“We’ve been working to get reasonable prices for water from the Hamakua Ditch so we can irrigate pasture,” he detailed. “A bill recently passed that cuts the price in half so hopefully, between irrigation and rainfall, we can keep the grass growing.”

Partnering with KK Ranch at Taste is a new event planning and catering partnership, The Feeding Leaf. The company’s head

Chef Scott Hiraishi

Chef Scott Hiraishi of The Feeding Leaf
Credit: Photo by Anna Pacheco

honcho in the kitchen is Chef Scott Hiraishi, who earned his culinary chops working under Chef Sam Choy and while at the Four Seasons Resort Hualalai and the Sheraton Kona Resort & Spa.

A life-long, Hawai‘i resident, Hiraishi has spent the last few years building relationships with Big Isle food producers and collaborating with Kamehameha Schools Land Asset Division in their farm-to-table initiatives. He says he prefers to use food grown here and will tweak the menu to use local products, rather than sourcing from afar. “I want to support the local economy,” he shares.

Chef Scott says local, pasture-raised beef is flavorful but he has been challenged to get enough. “It’s hard to keep up with the available quantity,” he explains. “A rancher only slaughters so many animals at one time, so there’s a limit to the quantity of certain cuts.”

Chef Scott is assigned skirt steak at Taste and is preparing it miso-grilled on ginger rice. He will marinade it for a day in a base of miso, ginger, sugar, vinegar and mirin (rice wine). Then he’ll grill the steak medium rare atop coals and served on ginger rice prepared with ginger, green onion and cilantro.

Aloha Monday with Ernest DeLuz Ranch

Also located on the Hamakua Coast, Ernest DeLuz Ranch is a four-generation operation named after its patriarch, Ernest DeLuz. Son Stephen serves as ranch manager and oversees a herd of 1400 breeding cows for the cow-calf operation and 300 animals that are finished on grass for local consumption.

Stephen, who studied agriculture at Hawai‘i Community College-Hilo, says the ranch uses 7,000 acres and rotates cattle among pastures. “When the weather is good, finishing cattle on grass is easy; but when it’s dry, it gets tough.” The ranch stepped up its production of grass-fed animals about 10-15 years ago to satisfy a growing demand in the local market. “Dad always did some grass-fed animals, but as popularity for the product grew, we kept more at home.”

In partnership with Kamehameha Schools, the ranch is doing some experimenting with irrigation and Leucaena, a high protein, small tree used for cattle fodder.

“The price has gone up for our weaned cows on the Mainland but we’re going to keep doing what we’re doing,” shares DeLuz. “Dad wants to continue supporting the local market and see how it goes.”

Chef Kanoa Miura

Chef Kanoa Miura of Aloha Mondays
Credit: Photo courtesy Aloha Mondays

Aloha Mondays is a unique culinary business, offering meal pickup from its Hilo kitchen while also providing catering services. Chef/owner Kanoa Miura hails from Mililani on O’ahu and got into the business while majoring in art at UH-Hilo. As a student, he worked at a restaurant cleaning fish and had friends over on his day off for “Aloha Mondays.” His college parties and love for catering “to anyone around him” grew into a passion for the culinary arts and jobs at Roy’s Waikoloa Bar & Grill and the Flying Fish in Seattle. He opened Aloha Mondays in 2005.

Miura prefers using local products for their freshness, uniqueness and effort in supporting our economy. He says the benefits of using local, pasture-raised beef are “ethical, as well as healthier and we look up to Kulana Foods as a successful business practicing more sustainably.” Chef adds, “Now and again you get a customer who is not used to the taste…but that’s the food business; you can’t make everyone happy, you just gotta go with what you believe in, stand by it and smile.”

Assigned Top Round from Ernest DeLuz Ranch, Miura is preparing Hawaiian-Style Top Round Poke on ‘Uala Chips. He will marinate the meat in a locally brewed barley wine before grilling and seasoning with classic Hawaiian-style poke ingredients. He’ll serve with Aloha Monday’s house-made sweet potato chips. Chef adds, “Top round tends to be a tougher cut so the barley wine is perfect as a marinade to tenderize the meat and add great flavor.”

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Taste to Pair Seven Chefs with Specific Ranches and Farms

New this year is a presentation format for seven culinary stations (out of a total of 30). Seven chefs will be paired with meat from a specific ranch and produce from a specific farm and they will be out on the Lagoon Lanai. These food “players” will be identified by signage at their culinary stations for attendees. Event chair Jeri Moniz says the purpose for the pairings is to foster more communication between food producers and the user of their products—chefs.  We checked in with some of the partnered ranchers and chefs to get their take on the challenges of providing local beef and the benefits of using it.

Triple D Ranch with Village Burger

De Luz Ranchers

Antone and Duane De Luz, photos courtesy Duane De Luz

Duane De Luz of Triple D Ranch manages 600 acres between two locations: O‘okala and Honokaia (between Honoka‘a and Kukuihaele). The family operation has been committed to 100 percent grass-fed beef since it started in 1906.

Triple D typically delivers 70 steers and heifers to market annually, overseeing up to 180 animals at any one time in their grass-fed finishing program. DeLuz says they farm a variety of forage that produces well at their two locations: pangola, star and guinea grasses, plus legumes like clover and plantation peanut. The fourth generation rancher says proper pasture management and rotation of herds is key to being successful.

“While prices for wean-offs (calves) to finish on the Mainland are high, we keep ours at home,” says Duane. “By keeping our animals here, we’re feeding the local community and ensuring jobs are here to process and distribute the beef. We are happy to support our fellow local businesses.”

With the motto, “Supporting our Island Ranchers, One Hamburger at a Time,” Chef Edwin Goto of Village Burger has made

Chef Edwin Goto

Chef Edwin Goto of Village Burger. Photo courtesy of Edwin Goto

local food sustainability the mantra at his Parker Ranch Center restaurant in Waimea. He does local in a big way by using ingredients that he can source “close to home” and listing them on the wall for hungry customers to see.

“I buy local beef because it’s in our backyard,” Goto, a long-time executive chef, explains. “It’s convenient and supports our local ranches.” He says pasture-raised beef produces burgers that are juicy and not greasy, so “you feel good after you eat them.”

Chef combines chuck and brisket to make his delicious burgers. For this year’s Taste, he’s assigned beef chuck roll to prepare and is thinking about doing something unique with it. “Maybe I’ll braise it and make a pot roast, or a unique meat loaf, perhaps with an Asian twist,” he muses.

Ponoholo Ranch with Chef Allen Hess of Mauna Lani Bay Hotel and Bungalows

Sabrina White and Pono von Holt

Sabrina White and Pono von Holt of Ponoholo Ranch. Photo courtesy of people pictured.

Ponoholo Ranch is located along Kohala Mountain Road in Kapa‘au. With 11,000 acres it is the isle’s second largest ranch with range running from the mountain to the sea. The ranch generally runs a herd of 4,500 to 5,000 animals, but due to past drought, it currently has a herd of 3,000 mother cows, according to president Sabrina White.

Principally a cow-calf operation, Ponoholo ships the bulk of its animals to be finished on the Mainland. Some are finished and marketed as pasture-raised beef through the Country Natural Beef program, meaning they are fed a combination of pasture, potatoes and other natural products with no added hormones or antibiotics. Other animals are processed through the commodity beef market.

The ranch also “keeps a couple 100 head here” for finishing on grass.

“I feel pretty good to be able to provide for our local market, as long as the local market can support it,” says White, a third-generation rancher with a degree in animal science. “It has to make economic sense to keep our cattle here.”

She explains, “Beef prices on the Mainland are currently at a record high. Hawai’i needs to keep up and raise the price. We’ll support our local retailers because they are coming around to raising prices, but eventually there’s a breaking point…and then we’ll sell to the Mainland.”

Chef Allen Hess

Chef Allen Hess of the Mauna Lani Bay Hotel. Photo courtesy of Allen Hess.

Chef Allen Hess is a long-time supporter of local beef; he used it while working at Merriman’s, Alan Wong’s Hualalai Grill and Allen’s Table, and now at Mauna Lani’s CanoeHouse.

“Local beef is tasty,” he says, adding he supports efforts to continue to improve the product’s consistency in quality as he can get a good New York Strip steak and filet mignon, but has “trouble getting a good ribeye.”

During Taste, Chef Hess is assigned beef tri-tip. “I’ll beak it down (trim to get the lean meat) and make a tri tip furikake stuffed in a clear cone sushi.” Furikake is a flavorful, dry seasoning typically sprinkled on top of rice—considered the salt and pepper of Japan, it’s crunchy, salty and briny with a hint of seafood. Chef will also do a beef nacho on homemade shrimp chips.

Tix for Taste are available online or at 12 islandwide locations. Visit www.TasteoftheHawaiianRange.com

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How to Brine - Taste of the Hawaiian Range

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Look Who’s Cookin’ at Taste of the Hawaiian Range: Joshua Ketner of Hilo Bay Café

Josh Ketner

Chef Joshua Ketner, Courtesy Hilo Bay Café

At last year’s Taste, Chef Joshua Ketner wowed the crowd with his preparation of whole island pork by offering a tantalizing porchetta-whole boneless pig stuffed with herbs, then carefully rolled and roasted with pork demi glace.

It’s no surprise that Chef Ketner and Hilo Bay Café has a loyal following of patrons and has chalked up rave reviews on Zagat and yelp!. The unassuming restaurant has generated national media attention in magazines such as Food and Wine, Gourmet, and Sunset, and it has won accolades, including the prestigious Hale ‘Aina award several years running. In today’s Taste It blog, Chef Ketner shares his thoughts on using grass-fed beef. The Midwest native, who hails from Moline, Ill. and enjoys fishing and spending time with his young family, says he earned his culinary chops during “on the job training.”

Q and A

Roast Pig

In 2009, USDA wild boar debuted at Taste and Chef Joshua Ketner showed how to prepare it expertly on a spit to the delight of camera-toting attendees. It was one of the event's most popular culinary stations.

Q: Why did you become involved with the culinary arts?
A: The Culinary arts are my passion dating back to age 4; I started in the business at age 14.

Q: How would you describe your cooking style and please give some examples.
A: New American, eclectic, French, with Asian undertones….For example, we offer grass-fed rib eye with Johnson farms rainbow swiss chard, roasted yukon gold potatoes, balsamic-red wine bordelaise and tapenade butter. We serve grass-fed barbecued beef brisket with savory paniolo bread pudding, local, organic green beans and barbecue-red wine bordelaise.

Q: Why do you use grass-fed beef (GFB)?
A: Here at Hilo Bay Café, we believe it is good for our community and our environment, plus it tastes wonderful.

Q: What are your favorite GFB cuts and why?
A: It’s got to be 21-day, dry-aged rib eye- the marbling, taste and tenderness all work together.

Q: Do you let patrons know on your menu they are eating GFB?
A: Yes

Q: What other local food products are your favorite and why?
A: We use mainly all local/organic products. This makes it hard to single out a few “favorites.” At the heart of our food is the belief that local and organic ingredients are better for the Earth and for you.

Q: Are you participating in the 2012 Taste?
A: Yes

Hilo Bay Café is located at 315 Ma’akala St. in Waiakea Center in Hilo. Hours are 5-9 p.m. Sunday, 11 a.m.-9 p.m. Monday thru Thursday and 11 a.m.-9:30 p.m. Friday-Saturday. Reservations are recommended, 808-935-4939, www.hilobaycafe.com. Follow Hilo Bay Café on facebook.

Cooking Tip

“Use first-rate ingredients and then let the flavors come through,” says Chef Ketner. “Cook to enhance the flavor, not cover it up.”

Chef likes to reinvent classical dishes, such as Wellington and potpie. He adds a modern twist, focusing especially on flavor and texture combinations as he feels both are “critical components” of his dishes. When asked to sample something by Chef Joshua, he suggests you don’t just take a bite of one thing. He insists you “take a little of everything on the plate, and load up your fork to get the full effect…”

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Look Who’s Cookin’ at Taste of the Hawaiian Range: Cary Peterson of Kohala Burger and Taco

The Facebook Specials can’t be beat at Kohala Burger & Taco (KBAT). It could be the Sizzlin’ Carne Asada Fajitas or tacos during 2-Fer Tuesday… or the Swizz Burger (original recipe since 1962) or the savory Cowboy Steak Won Ton—all made using grass-fed beef. And don’t forget the cool and refreshing Whip drinks and shakes (even a bacon one)! Chef/owner Cary Peterson is the man behind all the fun and we caught up with him recently at his popular Kawaihae Shopping Center eatery. He also shares the recipes for the yummy “street tacos” and salsa that he served at last year’s Taste.

Second-generation restaurateur

Chef Cary Peterson of Kohala Burger & Taco

Chef Cary Peterson of Kohala Burger & Taco served an easy taco recipe at last year's Taste that included his homemade salsa.

Chef Cary grew up in North Lake Tahoe, Calif. where his family owned a small chain of Mexican restaurants. He started helping out in the kitchen in his early teens and worked for 10 years, learning the ropes of the restaurant biz. Peterson got his first job as chef in 1991 at the former Tres Hombres Beach Grill at Kawaihae Shopping Center. After a nine-year career with one of the nation’s largest restaurant chains, Peterson moved back to his hometown and purchased his childhood haunt, the “World Famous” Char-Pit, which was established in 1962.

The landmark Char-Pit is where Cary “learned the secrets and recipes used to create the nostalgic flavors of the great 50’s-style drive-in burgers and shakes.” He says the menu selections at Kohala Burger & Taco are a reflection of “those truly classic items.”

Kohala Burger & Taco opened in November of 2010. The vision for the restaurant was to “utilize fresh and local ingredients,” especially Hawai’i’s grass-fed beef and the abundance of fresh, line-caught, wild fish.

Chef Cary explains, ” I wanted to create a restaurant that would provide top quality food, great value, and accurate and speedy service. Kohala Burger & Taco is the juncture where my years of Mexican food and hamburger experience meet. Right here at Kawaihae Harbor, where it ALL began…Kawaihae Harbor is the original landing place of the vaquero to Hawai’i. These Mexican Cowboys were brought here in 1823 by King Kamehameha III. They taught Hawaiians the art of cattle ranching. Originally called ‘espanola,’ the Hawaiians pronounced this as ‘paniolo.’ The name stuck, and is the common reference for cowboys in Hawai’I today.”

Q and A

Kohala BurgerQ: Why did you become involved with the culinary arts?
A: I have a passion for food and developing people.

Q: How would you describe your cooking style and please give some examples.
A: Simple and straightforward. I like to cook food people like to eat everyday, not just for a special occasion. I don’t use a lot of herbs or garlic, not that I’m against these; however, I feel the main ingredient should be the main ingredient. Most of my food has only a few ingredients. The key is being precise with the way things are cut and the way flavors go together, while never trying to hide or mask natural flavors.

Q: Why do you use grass-fed beef (GFB)?
A: I strive to leave a small environmental footprint and local beef requires much less energy and resources to process and deliver. I also think the flavor is great for the type of food I do, which is very simple and straightforward. I prefer to use a sweet bun for my burgers and the earthy flavor of the beef goes perfect with it. From a health standpoint, grass-fed beef is a no brainer; it’s antibiotic and hormone free!

Q: What are your favorite GFB cuts and why?
A: I think the tri-tip is a great cut and very versatile; this is what I use for my Sizzlin’ Carne Asada Fajitas.

Q: Do you let patrons know on your menu they are eating GFB?
A: ABSOLUTELY! I’ve built my concept around it!

Q: What other local food products are your favorite and why?
A: We feature various local, line-caught, fresh fish in our fish tacos and we make a hand-cut, local tomato salsa daily.

A: Are you participating in the 2012 Taste?
Q: Yes! This is hands-down the best food event on the island-organized, fun and informative.

Kohala Burger & Taco is located upstairs at Kawaihae Harbor Shopping Center, on the Akoni Pule Hwy. 270, Kawaihae, 808-880-1923, www.kohalaburger.com.

Grass-Fed Beef Recipe: KBAT Taco Beef & Salsa

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