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, www.orchidisletraders.com.

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 www.rapidohiadeath.org and engage with UH experts on Facebook at www.facebook.com/rapidohiadeath.

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 www.paradise.hawaiibalsamics.com.

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 www.farmworkshawaii.com.


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, www.facebook.com/Waipio-Cookhouse.

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 http://daylightmind.com.


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 www.fishhopper.com.


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, www.monsterasushi.com.

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 www.facebook.com/IppysHawaiianBarbeque.

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 www.facebook.com/noodleclubwaimea.


Where to Get Pasture-Raised Beef on Hawai‘i Island: Retailers, Restaurants and Resorts

By Mealani’s Taste of the Hawaiian Range

Retailers are listed in bold.

Info is subject to change. This list is alphabetized and divided into geographic areas for convenience. Check with resorts for specific restaurants serving pasture-raised beef. This list was compiled by contacting those listed—however, some locations may have been inadvertently missed. To have your biz put on this list, kindly email ferng@hawaii.rr.com. Updated 7.2016. Mahalo!



taste-of-the-hawaiian-range-ken-and-jacie-66Grandma’s Kitchen, Honoka’a-775-9943
JJ’s Country Market, Honoka‘a-775-7744
Tex Drive In, Honoka‘a-775-0598
The Landing, Honoka’a-775-0888


Blane’s Drive Inn-Downtown-969-9494
Blane’s Drive Inn-Industrial-935-2259
Café Pesto-969-6640
Don’s Grill-935-9099
Hilo Bay Café-935-4939
Hilo Hawaiian Hotel-935-9361
Island Naturals Market & Deli-935-5533
KTA Super Stores: Puainako St.- 959-9111, Keawe St.-935-3751
Naung Mai Thai Kitchen-934-7540
New Saigon Restaurant-935-4564

East Hawai‘i-South

Blane’s Drive Inn, Kea‘au-982-9800
Eagles Lighthouse Café, Volcano Village-985-8587
Foodland, Kea‘au-966-9316
Island Naturals Market & Deli, Pahoa-965-8322
J Hara Store, Kuristown-966-5462
Kaimu Korner Store, Pahoa-965-6259
Kaleo’s Restaurant, Pahoa-965-5600
Kandi’s Drive Inn-959-8461
Kilauea General Store, Volcano-967-7555
Kilauea Lodge, Volcano Village-967-7366
Kum Yo’s Okazuya-933-1335
Malama Market, Pahoa-965-2105
Orchidland General Store, Kea‘au-966-6711
Restaurant Osaka-961-6699
Sombat’s Fresh Thai Cuisine, Waikea Kai Shopping Plaza-969-9336
Volcano House Rim Restaurant, HVN Park-441-7750
Volcano Store, Volcano Village-967-7210



taste-of-the-hawaiian-range-2015-420Meheʻs Ka‘u Bar & Grill, Ocean View-929-7200
Ocean View Market, Ocean View-929-8800
Shaka Restaurant & Bar, Naʻalehu-929-7404
WikiWiki Mart, Na‘alehu-929-7135


North Kohala/Kawaihae

Bamboo Restaurant, Hawi-889-5555
Big Island Brewhaus, Waimea-887-1717
Blue Dragoon, Kawaihae-882-7771
Café Pesto, Kawaihae-882-1071
Figs Mix Plate, Kapa‘au-889-1989
Hawai‘i Island Retreat, Kapa‘au-889-6336
Kahua Ranch, North Kohala-882-4646
Kohala Burger & Taco, Kawaihae Shopping Center-880-1923
Nakahara Store, Hawi-889-6359
Minnie’s ‘Ohana Lim Style, Kapa‘au-889-5288
Sushi Rock, Hawi-889-5900
Takata Store, Hawi-889-5261


Dano-o’s Dönor-938-9978
Healthways II, Parker Ranch Center-885-6775
KTA Super Store-885-8866
Paniolo Country Inn-885-4377
The Fish & The Hog Market Cafe-885-6268
Village Burger, Parker Ranch Center-885-7319

Kohala Coast/Waikoloa Village

Daylight Mind Coffee Company Waikoloa, Queens’ MarketPlace-339-7824
The Fairmont Orchid, Hawai’i, Kohala Coast-885-2000
Foodland Farms, Shops at Mauna Lani-887-6101
Hapuna Beach Prince Hotel, Kohala Coast-880-1111
Island Lava Java, Waikoloa Highlands Center, Waikoloa Village-769-5202
Lava Lava Beach Club, ‘Anaeho‘omalu Bay, 769-5282
Mauna Kea Beach Hotel, Kohala Coast, 882-7222
Pueo’s Osteria, Waikoloa Village-339-7566
Roy’s Waikoloa Bar & Grill, Waikoloa Kings’ Shops-886-4321
Tommy’s Bahama Restaurant & Bar, Shops at Mauna Lani-881-8686
Waikoloa Village Market, Waikoloa Highlands Center-883-1088


taste-of-the-hawaiian-range-ken-and-jacie-99Annie’s Island Fresh Burgers, Kainaliu-324-6000
Aukule Supply Company, Keauhou Bay-498-4987
Choice Mart Super Market, Captain Cook-323-3994
Daylight Mind Coffee Co., Waterfront Row, Kailua-Kona-329-7824
Harbor House, Honokohau Marina-326-4166
Holuakoa Café, Holualoa-322-2233
Island Lava Java, Kailua-Kona-327-2161
Keoki’s Roadside Café, Captain Cook-328-2259
Kona Brew Pub, Kailua-Kona-334-2739
Korner Pocket Bar & Grill, Kealakekua-322-2994
Island Naturals Market & Deli: Kailua-Kona-326-1122, Kainaliu-930-7550
KTA Super Stores: Kailua-Kona-329-1677, Keauhou-322-2311
Mi’s Waterfront Bistro, Waterfront Row, Kailua-Kona-329-3880
Ocean Sports Bar & Grill, Coconut Grove Mktp., Kailua-Kona-327-9494
Sam Choy’s Kai Lanai, Keauhou Shopping Center-333-3434
Sandy’s Drive In, Kainaliu-322-2161
Ultimate Burger, Kailua-Kona-329-2326
Umeke’s Fishmarket Bar & Grill, Kailua-Kona-238-0571

To Purchase Beef in Bulk:

Hawaii Beef Producers, Pa‘auilo-776-1109 or JJ’s Country Market, Honoka‘a-775-7744
Kahua Ranch, North Kohala-882-4646
Kulana Foods, Hilo-959-9144

Taste of the Hawaiian Range Tips for Purchasing Big Isle Pasture-Raised Beef:

Save the Date:

9.9.2016 for Mealani’s Taste of the Hawaiian Range at the Hilton Waikoloa Village: http://tasteofthehawaiianrange.com/



One Island Aims to Localize Our Food System, Strengthen Local Self-Reliance

Canoe Farmers Market shoppers

Same Canoe Farmers Market shoppers

One Island Sustainable Living helps spread the word about locally produced products by facilitating ways to connect local food producers with those who market, prepare and consume that food.

“One part of our non-profit mission is to foster food systems transformation,” says Marcy Montgomery, founder and director. “Our goal is to assist local communities in reclaiming their local food systems. We work with partners from agriculture, health and wellness, local schools and the food service industry.”

Those partners include farmers markets, grocers and restaurants, chefs and consumers.

Low Income Families and Seniors Double It!

Same Canoe Coupon Book Winner for dinner at Redwater Cafe

Same Canoe Coupon Book Winner for dinner at Redwater Cafe

For example, a recent Same Canoe Local Food Challenge hooked up 552 SNAP/EBT (Supplemental Nutrition and Assistance Program) households with farmers and fresh produce through a Double It! Campaign. Funded by the USDA during April 2015-March 2016, the pilot project’s goal was to double fresh and local food purchases by low-income families and seniors.

Double It! participants turned in SNAP produce receipts to receive a one-to-one match ($30-$120) for local food coupons redeemable at 45 different farmers markets, grocery store events, CSA food box programs, farm tours, films and classes.

Promoting Use of Canoe Crops

Popular food offered by local farmers

Popular food offered by local farmers.
Credit: Nayara Toscano

In the works is a new Same Canoe Local Food Challenge initiative to introduce ways to grow, prepare and preserve five key canoe crops: breadfruit, taro, sweet potato, coconut and banana. With plans to start in January 2017, the Challenge will take place in five Big Isle districts in conjunction with local farms, farmers markets, grocers, restaurants and cafés. Consumers can attend demonstrations on growing and preparing the crop, tastings, farm tours and hands-on workshops.

Connecting Food with Health

Also on the horizon is a Food and Health Intersection Project that will foster a collaboration among local health clinics and practioners, the Hawai‘i Island Food Basket, grocers, restaurants, farmers and farmers markets.

“We are responding to the need for connecting food to health in this project,” details Montgomery. “It’s an outcome of the interests of local food consumers and partnering organizations, such as health clinics, the local food bank and agricultural organizations.”

Food Usage Survey

Donna Malta at Soil to Soul Solutions fermenting presentation.

Donna Malta at Soil to Soul Solutions fermenting presentation.
Credit: Karin Cooke

Montgomery says One Island is re-launching a chef survey to collect data about potential local demand for locally produced food.

“To date, the only data available about our island food usage is the amount and types of food imported,” notes Montgomery. “That’s only part of the picture. We want to know what specific products local chefs and food buyers want to source from local growers.”

She adds the project’s goal is to share the survey data with farmers to spur an increase in production where needed.

Members of the food service and food retail industries can access the survey at http://www.oneisland.org/hawaii/foodbuyersurvey.

Coupon Book

Also in the works is a new, 2016 edition of One Island’s local food coupon book with discounts from local restaurants and grocers. Book buyers pay a small fee to purchase the book and then redeem the discounts. Books will be sold by local non-profits and select retailers.

“ I think what One Island specializes in is building food system partners and consumer awareness of the multiple benefits of supporting the local food economy,” shares Montgomery. “There are direct health, economic and environmental benefits we all can enjoy from strengthening the local food system and decreasing reliance on imported food. “

Keep abreast on all One Island’s food initiatives at www.oneisland.org. There’s also a link on the home page to subscribe to the lively “Same Canoe” monthly newsletter.


Big Island Produce Shares Challenges and Successes of Keiki Cukes

KeikiCukesWith the slogan, “Crunchy Little Bites for Healthy Appetites,” Keiki Cukes is a popular, locally produced veggie hitting supermarket shelves. Since the company opened in 2012, it has tripled in size according to Big Island Produce co-owner and GM Eric Batha.

Keiki Cukes are mini-cucumbers sold in one-pound packages at statewide grocers. They can also be purchased at Costco and Sam’s Club in two-pound bags.

“We sell over a million pounds of cucumbers annually,” shares Batha. The mini-cukes are produced in grow bags filled with organic, shredded coconut husks and receive water and nutrients via a water dripper. Big Island Produce utilizes four acres of greenhouses at Waimea’s Lalamilo Farm Lots and is getting ready to break ground on another acre of greenhouse space.

Getting Started and Finding a Market Niche

BigIslandProduce1JPG“We appreciate all the support we’ve gotten here in Hawaii,” notes Batha, who grew up in Oregon helping his father, Vince, raise cattle and grow hay. The father-son partnered to open Big Island Produce after they both spent a few years in Hawai‘i looking to do something different than what they were the most familiar with—construction. Both men ran their own independent contracting companies in Oregon.

Batha says he got sound advice on growing produce from local farmers and friends farming mini-cukes in Canada, “but we learned mostly from trial and error and spent a significant amount of time Googling. The easiest part for us was the building of the facility.”

Four years ago, there weren’t any locally produced mini-cukes on the market so Big Island Produce “took the gamble” and went into production. “At first we gave them away,” he says, adding that retailers weren’t sure of the product’s marketability.

Hawai‘i Product Popularity

BigIslandProduce2“Now it’s amazing how well Keiki Cukes have been received,” he continues. “Consumers like the mini-size, especially kids. They are easy to use for single servings. We just started sending them to Maui schools.”

While Keiki Cukes is Big Island Produce’s signature product, the company is also testing Japanese cucumbers and a small amount is being sold this summer to select retailers.

Production Challenges

BigIslandProduce3Batha says it’s hard to find farm workers as “the cost of living is high in Hawai‘i.” The company averages 30 employees. “With the labor issue, we have to be conscious of our growth level.”

To sell at grocers and retailers, Keiki Cukes must be food safety certified, requiring adherence to specific requirements and diligent record keeping of the growing and packaging processes.

Regarding competing with imported cucumbers, Batha says he can’t better the price point of giant farms in Mexico. “But our product is fresh and the quality and taste is better,” he emphasizes.

“If you told me 10 years ago I’d be producing cucumbers today, I wouldn’t have believed it,” smiles Batha. ”It’s a lot of work, and not a 9-to-5 job, but it’s rewarding. We have created a demand for Keiki Cukes.”

For more information, visit www.bigislandproduce.com.