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, 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.”
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.