New Chefs, Product Booths Debut at 2013 Taste

There’s something for everyone at the 18th annual Mealani’s Taste of the Hawaiian Range and Agriculture Festival 6-8 p.m. Friday, Oct. 4 at the Hilton Waikoloa Village:

  • Enjoy fresh food using local ingredients—starring forage-fed meats—by 35 chefs
  • Taste local ag and value-added products and meet the folks who produce them
  • Browse among ag-related educational displays

Culinary Newbies

Chef Ronnie Nasuti

Chef Ronnie Nasuti

Five of the 35 participating restaurants are Taste first timers. Like the rest of the Taste chefs, they are assigned to prepare 100 pounds of a certain cut of grass-fed beef—or lamb, mutton, goat or commercial and feral pork.

Pork is on the menu for two new participants. The Sheraton Keauhou Bay Resort & Spa is partnering to use commercial pork with Kamehameha Schools. Chef Cory Nazara of Mahina Café in Captain Cook is serving her version of kalua pork.

Debuting from O’ahu is Chef Ronnie Nasuti of Tiki’s Grill & Bar in Waikiki, who is preparing mutton; and Chef Mark Noguchi of Pili Hawai’i and TASTE Table in Honolulu, who is assigned to prepare beef skirt.

Newly opened Pueo’s Osteria in Waikoloa Village is also making a first appearance at this year’s event and preparing lamb. Chef Jim Babian, a staunch supporter of local ranchers and farmers, owns the new Waikoloa Village Restaurant. Chef Babian, who recently served as executive chef at Four Seasons Resort Hualalai, is no stranger to Taste and last year presented Grass-Fed Beef Cooking 101 to a sell-out crowd.

Booths and Displays

Hawaiian Granola Company

Hawaiian Granola Company debuts at Taste 2013

In addition to “grazing” at a host of culinary stations, festival goers can enjoy samples from a variety of Hawai‘i’s local food producers offering tastes of their products. Also on display are ag-related educational exhibits.

Barbara Andersen of Hawaiian Granola Company debuts tastes of her original recipe breakfast treat at this year’s Taste. The Hilo resident started making granola for guests at her Shipman House Bed and Breakfast in 1997, focusing on using local macadamia nuts, plus mac nut honey and oil.

Hawaiian Granola Company also concocts recipes using island-sourced ginger, coconut and coffee. Andersen says the granola is “pure, with few other ingredients,” including brown cane sugar, vanilla and oats. “I use nice, chewy oats that have a heft to them, which gives granola a nice body.”

The Mauna Kea Beach Hotel serves Hawaiian Granola at its Sunday brunch and it’s sold at isle retailers.

Got Pork?

Pork Industry booth at the Hawaii State Farm Fair.

Pork Industry booth at the Hawaii State Farm Fair.

On the heels of a recent, new event that promotes heritage breed pigs, Cochon Island, the Hawaii Pork Industry Assoc. (HPIA) returns to Taste with an educational booth that offers tastes of char sui and smoked commercial pork.

Dr. Halina Zaleski, extension specialist with UH Manoa’s College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources, says the booth provides info on pork’s nutritional value and how to best prepare it.

“People tend to overcook pork; there’s no need to make it into shoe leather,” she says. “It should be cooked to 145 degrees and can still have some pink to it; it should be juicy.”

The booth will also be staffed by Big Isle residents Ron and Daphne McKeehan of Ahualoa Hog Farm and Ryan Okimoto, livestock technician at UH-Hilo’s Panaewa Farm.

With a goal to educate and support all 200 of Hawai’i’s pork producers, the HIPA also promotes the use of pork.

Get Your Tickets!

Chef Hubert Des Marais

Chef Hubert Des Marais

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 2013 installment of Grass-Fed Beef Cooking 101 and the fee is $10. This year’s guest presenter is Executive Chef Hubert Des Marais of The Fairmont Orchid, Hawaii, who will be preparing boneless brisket and tongue.

For details on purchasing tickets online or islandwide for the evening Taste and Cooking 101 demo, visit Taste of the Hawaiian Range. Taste tickets remain priced at $40 presale and $60 at the door. Watch for ticket giveaways and event updates on Facebook at Taste of the Hawaiian Range and Twitter #TasteHI. For general event information, phone (808) 969-8228.

Hawai’i residents can take advantage of Hilton Waikoloa Village’s Taste of the Hawaiian Range Package with rates starting at $229 per room on Oct. 4 that includes two tickets for Taste. For details, and to book a stay under an exclusive Taste of the Hawaiian Range room package (code TSH), visit or call 1-800-HILTONS.