Local Meat Producers Cater to Market Preferences

Ranchers and meat producers work closely with chefs to meet their needs. Whether the goal is to achieve a certain flavor, texture or cut, local meat providers are catering to chefs in a variety of ways.

Many Chefs Prefer Feral Pork

Lloyd Case at Hawaiian Hogs in Waimea

Lloyd Case at Hawaiian Hogs in Waimea
Photo Courtesy Lloyd Case

Lloyd Case provides both feral and commercial swine for restaurants with his Waimea business, Hawaiian Hogs, Inc. He traps feral hogs of various sizes and also raises commercial hogs. Hawaiian Hogs donates several hogs every year for Mealani’s Taste of the Hawaiian Range.

In livestock farming for almost 40 years, Case deals with around 600 hogs on his farm, saying he gets a variety of requests from chefs concerning size of animal and flavor and texture of meat. In addition, he notes Hawaiians prefer the feral animal for luʻaus, and says many chefs prefer it too. Case says these chefs got acquainted with feral pork after assigned the meat at Taste.

“The meat of the feral hog has a different taste as the animal digests a more varied diet in the wild,” details Case. “It’s really a better eating animal and is chemical free.”

Case prefers to catch feral hogs when smaller—about 80 pounds—as they are easier to handle. He gets requests for all sizes though and also traps older hogs.

“Some people want to cook the pig on a spit so then size is key,” Case shares. “We also get requests for an older, bigger animal to make sausages, laulau or kalua pig. The meat of these animals tends to have a good texture and taste for these culinary uses.”

According to Case, some chefs request hogs fed a diet rich in macadamia nuts and fruit. The meat of animals on this specialty diet is especially juicy and flavorful.

“Regarding our commercial swine, we have found that hogs are happier and contented when raised on the ground; so that’s what we do,” adds Case. “When animals are stress free, the meat is softer and makes for better eating.”

Selling Beef Cuts

Rancher Michelle Galimba of Kuahiwi Ranch in Na'alehu

Rancher Michelle Galimba of Kuahiwi Ranch in Na’alehu
Photo courtesy Michelle Galimba

Chefs often buy certain beef cuts from ranches or the isle’s processing plants—Hawaii Beef Producers in Pa‘auilo or Kulana Foods in Hilo. Michelle Galimba of Kuahiwi Ranch in Na‘alehu has been working with chefs for about four years and has gotten to know the grass-fed beef preferences of chefs. Some want certain cuts, while others—like Chef Justin Wu at the Whole Ox on O‘ahu—wants the whole carcass. “Justin wants the carcass broken down only into quarters so he can cut it to his liking,” explain Galimba. “Most chefs want it broken down more.”

Galimba says she working with the new management at Volcano House to use the whole animal rather than certain cuts. Ranchers get more value for their animals when there is no waste.

“When I first started selling our beef, there were certain cuts I wasn’t familiar with,” Galimba adds. “Now I’m looking at other cuts differently as chefs are willing to use them.” Case in point is what Hawaii Beef Producers refers to as “flap meat” or “skirt steak,” another example is the flat iron steak.

The consumer preference for teriyaki beef—thinly sliced beef marinated in teriyaki sauce—is a godsend for ranchers who need to market the large primal cut at the animal’s rump, called the round. Galimba says the round is a lean, large cut and can be chewy. Top round steak is the beef cut with the fewest calories and the least amount of fat.

“Here in Hawai‘i, teri beef is part of our diet and so grocers will thinly slice round so people can make it,” shares Galimba. “It’s also on a lot of menus.”

Marketing Meat Sustainably

HBPJill Mattos of Hawaii Beef Producers says she is “constantly” working with chefs and resorts to fill orders for select and certain cuts. For example, a Kohala Coast hotel recently asked for a “109 rib” or rib primal to make several prime rib dinners.

“We might get a request for a steamship round because the client wants to put it on a huli huli machine (spit),” she adds. “A chef may need a bunch of rib eye steaks for a special dinner.” Mattos, who is fourth generation in the grass-fed beef industry and also a rancher, says Hawaii Beef Producers also gets requests for shoulder clods from the Maui Cattle Company

With a goal to be sustainable and use all animal cuts, Mattos will call clients “if she has an abundance of an item” and ask if they want to use it by offering a special. Meat is also branded and sold as Hawaii Big Island Beef at JJ’s Country Meat Market in Honokaʻa.

Producing Consistent Quality Beef

Kulana FoodsFulfilling the need to provide chefs with a consistent quality of product is the goal of Tom Asano, sales manager for Kulana Foods. Asano says Kulana works with over a dozen ranches to source grass-fed beef. “These ranchers produce consistent quality beef because they know the importance of providing their animals with quality pasture to bring them to market,” shares Asano. “They tell me they are farming grass.”

Asano says some chefs are also requesting dry-aged, grass-fed beef: a 21-day process that results in a tender product with a concentrated flavor. Executive Chef Hubert Des Marais of The Fairmont Orchid, Hawaii uses dry-aged grass-fed beef and he’ll be leading the Grass-Fed Beef Cooking 101 class prior to this year’s Taste, 3 p.m. October 4. http://www.tasteofthehawaiianrange.com/event/Mealani-Event.html

“With the recent trend of farm-to-table cuisine, we see more chefs asking for not only grass-fed beef, but also Hawaiian wild boar, island lamb and island goats,” adds Asano. “More chefs are looking to locally source quality meat for their guests and are featuring those meats at the center of the plate.”

For more info on the dry-aging of beef, visit the previous Taste It blog, Things to Know About Purchasing Beef.


Four Seasons Chef Weighs In on Using Grass-Fed Beef

It’s been a year-and-a-half since Four Seasons Resort Hualalai instituted a sustainable grass-fed beef program that utilizes the entire animal-basically from head-to-tail. At the helm of this effort is Executive Chef James Babian, who will be leading the 2012 installment of Grass-Fed Beef Cooking 101 at this year’s Mealani’s Taste of the Hawaiian Range.

Chef Babian Four Seasons Resort Hualalai

Executive Chef James Babian

Chef Babian, who was recognized in 2010 for his broad and exemplary use of locally grown food by the statewide Hawaii Tropical Fruit Growers, says using the whole animal fits into the resort’s theme of sustainability. “We want to support our local beef industry while adhering to our culinary direction of regional, seasonal and artisanal.”

Babian says it also makes financial sense as the award-winning Four Seasons Hualalai uses a lot of meat for its on-site restaurants and staff cafeteria.

This approach, of utilizing the whole animal, has more value to our local ranchers. In fact, one of the goals of Taste has been to educate chefs and attendees about the benefits of using all the different cuts of meat, including the unfamiliar ones.

“It’s been a successful experience for us,” notes Chef Babian. “We are trying different things like altering the length of time for aging the beef and using different breeds of cattle. We also continue to develop new menu items.”

Four Seasons Hualalai purchases 21- to 40-day aged, whole beef carcasses from Kulana Foods in Hilo, averaging two-to-three carcasses a month.

“Beef has lactic acid and dry-aging allows for time to break down the meat’s connective tissue to make it more tender,” explains Babian. “It also mellows the flavor.”


Lean grass-fed beef served during a banquet

Chef admits “it took awhile to figure out a system” for butchering a whole carcass of beef to best suit the resort’s needs. Beef carcasses average 750 pounds for heifers (females) to 900 pounds for steers (males).

“When we get our carcass, we pull off the best primal cuts, like the tenderloins, for our steaks and feature them as specials,” shares Chef Babian. “Our guests expect a good tasting steak and appreciate the natural benefits of grass-fed beef. They also like to experience regional foods and grass-fed beef has a distinct flavor.”

Chef says the loins are broken down into six pieces: two each for filets, prime rib, New York and rib eye, which are used in the outlets for daily specials.

“We grind the beef shoulder and brisket to make burgers for the restaurants and use the rest of the meat in stews and stir frys for the cafeteria, where we feed 500-700 people a day.”

Chef says grass-fed beef is also sourced for the resort’s banquets and Beach Tree’s Chef de Cuisine Nick Mastrascusa uses braised oxtail for ragout to go with his signature homemade gnocchi.

“Using the whole animal requires more work, more labor, but gives us an opportunity to be more creative in the kitchen,” details Babian.

For Chef Babian’s Grass-Fed Beef Cooking 101 class, he will demonstrate how to prepare Grilled Tri-Tip with Kiawe-Smoked Kabocha Pumpkin and Braciole de Manzo or Italian beef roll. Time is 3 p.m. Friday, Sept. 21 and admission is $10, which includes recipe sampling. Tickets for Cooking 101 and the evening Taste are conveniently sold at http://www.TasteOfTheHawaiianRange.com.

For information on dining at the Four Seasons Resort Hualalai, visit our website or phone 325-8000.

Find more details on Knowing the Basics of Beef Cuts, check out the Taste It blog.


Meet the Many Faces Behind the Event The Taste Planning Committee Members

Mealani A Taste of the Hawaiian Range & Agricultural Festival is a yearly event which takes many months to plan.  The people behind the event are dedicated volunteers from different organizations, community members and supporters of sustainable agriculture.  We welcome you to meet them!

CTAHR and Kulana Foods
The volunteers on the Planning Committee who began the “Taste” 16-years ago and continue to support this event are from the College of Tropical Agriculture & Human Resources (CTAHR) and Kulana Foods.

Representing CTAHR which began the Mealani’s A Taste of the Hawaiian Range are:

  • Hawaii County Administrator, Russell Nagata, who advises the Board and Planning Committee members with overall goals.
  • Marla Fergerstrom, Interim Manager of Mealani’s Research Station in Kamuela.  Marla has been with the event since it’s beginning under the guidance of Milton Yamasaki with the logistics of the event.
  • Susan Miyasaka, Researcher and Treasurer who is also an amateur photographer can be seen taking many of our photos!
  • Department of Hawaiian Home Lands Extension Agent, Glenn Sako, can be seen busily setting up educational displays and booth vendors.
  • Retirees from CTAHR are former County Administrator, Wayne Nishijima, and recently retired from Mealani, Milton Yamasaki.  Both men are seen with volunteers, culinary students and helping in anyway they can to make sure you are enjoying the “Taste.”
  • Mary Kaheiki of CTAHR can be seen at our registration table for vendors, chefs, and volunteers.
  • Tom Asano of Kulana Foods continues to coordinate the Chefs who cook, grill and simmer all those tasty treats.  Once again, Sandy Barr Rivera, of Hawaii Community College’s Food Service & Culinary Program is assisting Tom and Chefs with culinary students who can gain experience at the event.

Cattle Industry Representatives
The emphasis on locally raised grass-fed beef has representatives from the cattle industry who are in support of the mission and vision of the organization.

  • Chairperson, Jeri Moniz of KK Ranch is a member of the Hawaii Cattlemen’s Association and from the Kalopa and Honokaa community.
  • Chris English of Ponoholo Ranch organizes many of our donations from ranchers, farmers and specialty foods such as honey.  Volunteering with him is Alice Fujii who does the beautiful Kamuela Grown display at the Taste.

Alice  Fujii

Community Members
Community members affiliated with the University of Hawaii Hilo are Talaite Petrowski and Leomi L. Bergknut.

  • Talaite volunteers her time with the coordination of ticket sales and making sure info on the event is current.
  • Leomi is the Event Coordinator and Co-Chairs the Trade Show this year.  She is also the organization’s grantwriter and keeps the planning of the event “on-task.” Leomi shares, “Let’s not forget to say Mahalo to Nina Tanabe who chaired last year’s Trade Show which continues to improve every year.”

Intern Students from UH-Hilo
This year we welcome 3-Intern students from the University of Hawaii Hilo’s College of Business Education (UHH-CoBE) and they are:

  • Ashley De Mattos is Co-Chair of the Trade Show with Leomi and contacting vendors for the event.
  • Gaylyn Respecio is developing a brochure for the event and the organization and a member of the Trade Show Committee.
  • Casey Rabago has a background in accounting and is assisting the Ticket Sales committee with projections and marketing of tickets.

The marketing of our event with our website and the press has been coordinated with Cristine Hafner of Hafner Creative Communications.  A member of her team, Fern Gavelek, has also promoted our event and contributes as part of the Trade Show Committee.

From the Hilton Waikoloa Village Assistant Director of Catering, Kristine Gancinia, continues to collaborate and finalize details for the Taste of the Hawaiian Range.

The Taste Planning Committee Members Front Row: Milton Yamasaki, Mary Kaheiki, Marla Fergerstrom 2nd Row : Fern Gavelek, Jeri Moniz, Tom Asano 3rd Row: Cristine Hafner, Leomi L. Bergknut, Chris English Back Row: Kristine Gancinia, Nina Tanabe, Susan Miyasaki Missing: Russell Nagata, Wayne Nishijima, Sandy Barr Rivera, Talaite Petrowski

The dedication and volunteerism of all of the Planning Committee members make the Taste of the Hawaiian Range an event to remember as you mingle with other event goers, smell the aroma of meat being grilled, and taste the textures of food being consumed.  Say “Mahalo” or give them a simple “smile” as you see them!

Tickets go on sale locally on August 1st.  Check the website for our ticket venues and the Hilton Waikoloa Village Ticket & Room deal! See you on Friday, September 30th from 6-8 p.m. this year!


Meet Chef Kanoa Miura of alohAMondays

This week’s blog introduces you to one of our chefs who owns a catering business and believes in supporting Hawaii Island farmers and ranchers.  His creative dishes have continued to reach and enlighten his customers to new flavors and remembering old time favorites.

Chef Kanoa Miura of alohaMondays

Chef Kanoa Miura of alohaMondays

Meet Chef Kanoa Miura of alohAMondays
alohAMondays premiered at our event last year — the 15th Taste of the Hawaiian Range with owner chef Kanoa Miura of Hilo.  His entrée was a beef stuffed palm heart slider that melted in your mouth…onolicious.

A Sustainable Lifestyle of Using Fresh Island Products
Chef Miura or “Noa” to his customers and family members created a catering business, alohAMondays that is sought after for his use of locally grown and raised fresh island products.  Locally grown ulu (breadfruit), mangoes, banana blossoms, heart of palms, freshly caught Uku, and Grass-fed Beef are prepared with aloha to make a fantastic meal!

Island Fresh Pineapple Salsa and Dip

Island Fresh Pineapple Salsa and Dip

Last year at an engagement party, I was able to take part in enjoying his creative menu of Kulana Grass-fed Braised Beef with Chinese Cabbage in a Truffle-Yaki Glaze, Heart of Palm Namasu, Kalua Pork with Steamed Sticky Buns and a Poha Berry Marmalade, Baked Heart of Palm Grautin topped with Melted Mozzarella, Baked Tofu on Sugarcane Sticks over a bed of Soba Noodles in a Tahini Dressing, and Handmade Chicken Ravioli topped off with a Fresh Garden Herb Tomato Sauce.  The Poha Berry Marmalade brought back memories of my Grandmother making it over a hot gas stove!  Miura’s skill and experience created options for vegans and carnivores that were wholesome, sustainable and satisfying!  The knowledge with cooking grass-fed beef and the quality plus presentation of the food at this party was one of award winning cuisine!

Celebrate Your Mondays!
alohAMondays was an idea created in Hilo where Miura had only Mondays off from work.  He wanted to celebrate his Monday and not look “down” on it.  With over 15-years of experience, he has and can create the experience you may want!  Contact Chef Miura of alohAMondays at 808-640-2093 or via email at kanoa@alohamondays.com.

Look for alohAMondays at our 16th Mealani’s Taste of the Hawaiian Range and Agricultural Festival on Friday, September 30, 2011 at the Hilton Waikoloa Village.  Make sure you visit him at his chef station as it will be one to remember!


Four Seasons Resort Hualalai Supports Ranching Industry with Head-to-Tail Use of Grass-Fed Beef

Beef Short Rib

Local Beef Short Ribs with potato-apple puree

Local Beef Short Ribs. Big Island Beef Cheek Terrine. Oyster-Marinated Tri Tip with Crispy Oysters.

These new menu items at Pahu i‘a—just selected by Zagat as the number one restaurant on the Big Isle—are sourced from local, grass-fed beef. In fact, they are the result of the Four Seasons Resort Hualalai’s new sustainable grass-fed beef program that utilizes the entire animal—basically from head-to-tail.

This approach, of cooking the whole animal, has more value to our local ranchers. In fact, one of the goals of Mealani’s Taste of the Hawaiian Range has been to educate chefs and attendees about the benefits of using all the different cuts of meat, including the unfamiliar ones–like the rich beefiness of flap.

James Babian

Chef James Babian, Executive Chef, Four Seasons Resort Hualalai

Executive Chef Jim Babian, who was recognized in 2010 for his use of local products by the statewide Hawaii Tropical Fruit Growers, says using the whole animal fits into the resort’s theme of sustainability. “We want to support our local beef industry while adhering to our culinary direction of regional and artisanal.”

Babian says it also makes financial sense as the award-winning Four Seasons Hualalai uses a lot of meat for its on-site restaurants and staff cafeteria.

“Using the whole animal requires more work, more labor, but gives us an opportunity to do more in the kitchen,” details Babian, who lights up when sharing how he’s in the process of concocting Big Island hot dogs. “We’ll definitely benefit from getting all the bones as well.”

The Four Seasons Hualalai is purchasing 21-day aged, whole beef carcasses from Kulana Foods in Hilo. According to Kulana’s Tom Asano, it’s the first time a resort has committed to a beef carcass purchase program in the company’s 72-year history.

Beef Cheek Terrine

Big Island Beef Cheek Terrine with Hamakua Coast hon shimeji mushrooms and kiawe smoked potato

“This is very exciting,” says Asano. “Chef Babian’s standards are very high and we are happy to meet his expectations with our island grass-fed beef.”

At a recent Pahu i‘a menu tasting for resort staff, Chef Babian detailed the new grass-fed menu items, as well as a host of others featuring fresh foods sourced from around the island.

They include savory Kona Abalone with coconut and kaffir lime or Roasted Beet Salad with Hamakua goat cheese, kukui nut brittle and Ka’u orange vinaigrette. Wild Boar Two Ways is on the menu—a grilled loin chop and a guava-braised shoulder, served with three types of Waimea beans—a sort-of “pork and beans.” Chef says he’s cooking nose-to-tail with the pork too.

“Of the 41 items on the menu, only a handful of ingredients are imported in from elsewhere,” details Babian, who relies on over 160 local farmers and fishermen to provide the resort’s food.

Beef TriTip Oyster

Oyster-Marinated Tri Tip with Crispy Oysters, choi sum, kabocha pumpkin and tsukemomo remoulade

Chef is especially proud of one of Pahu i’a’s specialties, the Tri Tip with Crispy Oysters. “This is my favorite item; all the main ingredients are from the Big Island,” chef proclaims. That includes the meat, seafood, choi sum and kabocha pumpkin.

“Tri tip can be chewy, but it’s good and we are one of the first restaurants preparing it,” he notes. To make it fork tender, the cut is marinated 24 hours and then cooked in a sous vide at 137 degrees to break down the connective tissue. “Then we grill it to order,” he says. (A sous vide cooks food sealed in a plastic bag in a controlled water bath.)

At the resort’s Beach Tree restaurant, diners can also find grass-fed menu items. “We grind the shoulder and brisket to make our burgers,” says Chef Jim. Beach Tree’s Chef de Cuisine Nick Mastrascusa uses braised oxtail for ragout to go with his homemade gnocchi. The scrumptious dumplings are his grandmother’s recipe.

“We salute Chef Babian and the Four Seasons Hualalai for stepping up to support our hard-working ranchers by buying the entire animal carcass,” says Marla Fergerstrom, interim farm manager and herdsman of the Mealani Research Station. “Using the whole animal is a key component to ensure the sustainability of our ranching industry.”

Fergerstrom adds, “It is extremely nice to see the efforts of Taste are being demonstrated through Chef Babian. He could definitely be starting a trend for our local, grass-fed meats.”

Information on dining at the Four Seasons Resort Hualalai, phone 325-8000 or visit the website.

Food shots by Fern Gavelek