There’s something for everyone at the 17th annual Mealani’s Taste of the Hawaiian Range and Agriculture Festival 6-8 p.m. Friday, Sept. 21 at the Hilton Waikoloa Village:
• Enjoy fresh food using local ingredients-starring forage-fed meats-by 36 chefs
• Taste local ag and value-added products and meet the folks who produce them
• Enjoy ag-related educational displays
Eight of the 36 culinary participants are first timers, including The Fairmont Orchid, Hawai’i and new Executive Chef Hubert Des Marias, who recently came to the Kohala Coast from Kenya.
“I like grass-fed beef for its flavor profile and healthful benefits,” says Des Marias, who was named one of “America’s Ten Best New Chefs” by Food and Wine Magazine. He prefers “simple preparation” to let grass-fed beef “speak for itself.” For Taste, chef will prepare a tasty “Tongue and Cheek” dish: tamarind-glazed beef cheek and sweet potato laulau with pickled lomilomi beef tongue and mustard greens salad served with Waimea tomatoes and a golden pineapple turmeric salsa.
Another 2012 Taste newbie is the Hyatt Regency Waikiki Beach Resort and Spa and Executive Chef Sven Ullrich. Assigned beef flap-a bottom sirloin cut also called beef loin tip-Chef Ullrich is serving extra virgin olive oil-poached beef with jackfruit slaw and micro chives.
Kelsi Ikeda of Sandy’s Drive In debuts at Taste to make kalbi-braised clod (cross-rib) quesadillas with a pineapple kim chee relish and kochujung sour cream. After jobs at Alan Wong’s, Nobu Waikiki and Trump’s Waikiki Beachwalk, Chef Ikeda is back on the Big Island working at her family’s Kainaliu restaurant.
Fresh from competition on cable TV’s “Food Network Star,” Chef Philip “Ippy” Aiona of Solimene’s Restaurant in Waimea makes his first Taste appearance using a favorite butcher’s cut known for its great flavor-hanger steak.
Other restaurants and their chefs debuting at Taste include Lava Lava Beach Club in Waikoloa with Chef Colin Stevens preparing beef top round, Blue Dragon Restaurant in Kawaihae with Chef Noah Hester cooking beef bottom round, Sodexo/UH-Hilo Dining Services with Chef Timothy Choo using beef chuckroll and Hilo’s Banyan Drive Café and Chef Courtney Larson assigned beef bottom round.
New Ag and Value-Added Products
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. It’s all part of the focus on food sustainability at the annual event that showcases the isle’s grass-fed beef industry while bringing together local ranchers, farmers, restaurateurs and eager eaters to celebrate a bounty of locally produced food.
Fresh from Honolulu’s Food & Wine Festival, OnoPops is among the new products at Taste. The refreshing popsicles are based on the gourmet Mexican paleta. Shaped like a shovel or paleta, these treats are made with almost 100 percent Hawai’i ingredients: raw cane sugar, milk, eggs, butter, fruit and spices. Josh Welch of Ono Pops says a variety of products from the Big Isle are employed to concoct some of its 70-plus flavors like Kona Latte, Pink Lemon Crème, Honey Apricot, Jaboticaba and Mango. “Nothing is artificial, including our li hing mui,” shares Welch.
Inaugural Educational Display
For the first time at Taste, attendees can find out all about UH Hilo’s College of Agriculture, Forestry and Natural Resource Management (CAFNRM). The college offers a BS degree in six areas of specialization and certificates for specialized areas. Assistant Professor of Horticulture Norman Arancon says the display will not only have info and handouts on the full academic program, but also updates on the college’s popular Adopt a Beehive program and a display on verimicomposting.
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 2012 installment of Grass-Fed Beef Cooking 101. This year’s guest presenter is Four Seasons Resort Hualalai Executive Chef James Babian who will be preparing Grilled Tri-Tip with Kiawe-Smoked Kabocha Pumpkin and Braciole de Manzo or Italian beef roll.
Tickets for the evening Taste and 3 p.m. Cooking 101 demo with are conveniently sold online at http://www.TasteOfTheHawaiianRange.com. Taste tickets remain priced at $40 presale and $60 at the door, while the fee for the cooking demo is $10. 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.
The Hilton Waikoloa Village offers Taste of the Hawaiian Range Kama’aina Room and Ticket Packages (code TSH) starting at $229 plus tax for one night stay on Sept. 21 and two event tickets. Room-only accommodations are available starting from $149 per night (code MTH). Visit http://bit.ly/GJsNyk or phone 808-886-1234 and ask for the “Taste of the Hawaiian Range Ticket Package.”