As shared in our last blog, Taste offers a new presentation format for seven culinary stations (out of a total of 30). Seven chefs will be paired with meat from a specific ranch and produce from a specific farm and they will be out on the Lagoon Lanai. These food “players” will be identified by signage at their culinary stations for attendees. Event chair Jeri Moniz says the purpose for the pairings is to foster more communication between food producers and the user of their products—chefs. We checked in with more of the partnered ranchers and chefs to get their take on the challenges of providing local beef and the benefits of using it.
KK Ranch with The Feeding Leaf
KK Ranch is located near Kalopa/Pa‘auilo and has a herd of 700 cows on 5,200 acres on the Hamakua Coast. Rancher Jason Moniz says KK is predominately a cow-calf operation that finishes most of its animals on the Mainland through the Country Natural Beef cooperative program, meaning the cattle are fed a combination of pasture and other natural products with no added hormones or antibiotics. KK keeps and finishes some of its herd here on the Big Isle for local consumption, including 50 animals in 2013.
In the business for 26 years, Moniz says the biggest challenge for keeping local beef at home is increasing feed for cattle here on island. There aren’t many places where the weather is conducive to produce adequate forage year round. He says this not only applies to Hawai‘i, but also to the Mainland U.S.
“We’ve been working to get reasonable prices for water from the Hamakua Ditch so we can irrigate pasture,” he detailed. “A bill recently passed that cuts the price in half so hopefully, between irrigation and rainfall, we can keep the grass growing.”
Partnering with KK Ranch at Taste is a new event planning and catering partnership, The Feeding Leaf. The company’s head
A life-long, Hawai‘i resident, Hiraishi has spent the last few years building relationships with Big Isle food producers and collaborating with Kamehameha Schools Land Asset Division in their farm-to-table initiatives. He says he prefers to use food grown here and will tweak the menu to use local products, rather than sourcing from afar. “I want to support the local economy,” he shares.
Chef Scott says local, pasture-raised beef is flavorful but he has been challenged to get enough. “It’s hard to keep up with the available quantity,” he explains. “A rancher only slaughters so many animals at one time, so there’s a limit to the quantity of certain cuts.”
Chef Scott is assigned skirt steak at Taste and is preparing it miso-grilled on ginger rice. He will marinade it for a day in a base of miso, ginger, sugar, vinegar and mirin (rice wine). Then he’ll grill the steak medium rare atop coals and served on ginger rice prepared with ginger, green onion and cilantro.
Aloha Monday with Ernest DeLuz Ranch
Also located on the Hamakua Coast, Ernest DeLuz Ranch is a four-generation operation named after its patriarch, Ernest DeLuz. Son Stephen serves as ranch manager and oversees a herd of 1400 breeding cows for the cow-calf operation and 300 animals that are finished on grass for local consumption.
Stephen, who studied agriculture at Hawai‘i Community College-Hilo, says the ranch uses 7,000 acres and rotates cattle among pastures. “When the weather is good, finishing cattle on grass is easy; but when it’s dry, it gets tough.” The ranch stepped up its production of grass-fed animals about 10-15 years ago to satisfy a growing demand in the local market. “Dad always did some grass-fed animals, but as popularity for the product grew, we kept more at home.”
In partnership with Kamehameha Schools, the ranch is doing some experimenting with irrigation and Leucaena, a high protein, small tree used for cattle fodder.
“The price has gone up for our weaned cows on the Mainland but we’re going to keep doing what we’re doing,” shares DeLuz. “Dad wants to continue supporting the local market and see how it goes.”
Aloha Mondays is a unique culinary business, offering meal pickup from its Hilo kitchen while also providing catering services. Chef/owner Kanoa Miura hails from Mililani on O’ahu and got into the business while majoring in art at UH-Hilo. As a student, he worked at a restaurant cleaning fish and had friends over on his day off for “Aloha Mondays.” His college parties and love for catering “to anyone around him” grew into a passion for the culinary arts and jobs at Roy’s Waikoloa Bar & Grill and the Flying Fish in Seattle. He opened Aloha Mondays in 2005.
Miura prefers using local products for their freshness, uniqueness and effort in supporting our economy. He says the benefits of using local, pasture-raised beef are “ethical, as well as healthier and we look up to Kulana Foods as a successful business practicing more sustainably.” Chef adds, “Now and again you get a customer who is not used to the taste…but that’s the food business; you can’t make everyone happy, you just gotta go with what you believe in, stand by it and smile.”
Assigned Top Round from Ernest DeLuz Ranch, Miura is preparing Hawaiian-Style Top Round Poke on ‘Uala Chips. He will marinate the meat in a locally brewed barley wine before grilling and seasoning with classic Hawaiian-style poke ingredients. He’ll serve with Aloha Monday’s house-made sweet potato chips. Chef adds, “Top round tends to be a tougher cut so the barley wine is perfect as a marinade to tenderize the meat and add great flavor.”