In an effort to hookup local ranchers and farmers with food service buyers, Mealani’s Taste of the Hawaiian Range has a VIP Pre-Taste trade show from 5-6 p.m. During this time, participating chefs and invited resort and restaurant purchasers can “taste and see” a cornucopia of fresh foods and value-added products.
Vendors, who participate in the trade show for free, also stay for the 6-8 p.m. Taste to offer samples to the general public. Having food producers at Taste enables attendees to “talk story” with the people providing our food.
This year’s Taste hosts about 30 agriculture vendors and a dozen educational displays. Ranging from fresh hearts of palm to bottled water, all the products are locally produced. New producers strutting their stuff include Kalapana Organics-while favorites like the Hawaii Cattle Producers Cooperative and Wailea Agricultural Group-return.
Debuting at this year’s event, Kalapana Organics will tout the company’s sugar cane juice. Originally called Sugar Rush, the newly named Organic Hawaiian Cane Rush comes in a line of flavors like Coco Cream. Producing the juice are Jackie Prell and “Ginger” John Caverly. The couple farms the sugar cane just north of Hilo on 18 acres in Onomea; they make the juice at their production site and adjacent new Sweet Cane Café at 1472 Kilauea Avenue in Hilo.
“We also farm lilikoi, ginger, tumeric, limes and lemons in Kalapana to flavor our organic-certified juice,” adds Prell. She says the company recently starting pasteurizing the juice with an ultraviolet Cider-Sure. “This will give it a longer shelf life and enable us to increase our distribution reach.” For more info, visit www.kalapanaorganics.com.
Hawaii Ranchers Red Veal
Offered by the Hawaii Cattle Producers Co-op, Hawaiian Red Veal is produced from calves weighing up to 600 pounds, who have just been weaned off the mother cow. These young animals have eaten some grass on pasture as they have been allowed to roam freely. No hormones or antibiotics have been administered to these humanely raised animals and they have been subjected to minimal stress. Meat is pinkish-red in color and tender with enough fat to offer a mild beef flavor.
Wailea Agricultural Group
Showcasing its fresh Hawaiian heart of palm at Taste, Wailea Agricultural Group also offers a wide diversity of fresh fruit, flowers and spices. Located in Honomu, the company began operations in 1994 and is a Hawai’i Seal of Quality member. At the helm are Michael Crowell and Lesley Hill, who met at the University of Hawai’i.
“Mealani’s Taste of the Hawaiian Range is a wonderful way for the community to see all the agricultural products coming from the Big Island,” explains Hill. “It is our 13th year and during our participation, we’ve been able to educate attendees about heart of palm-what it is and how it tastes.” For more info, visit www.waileaag.com.
Mealani’s Taste of the Hawaiian Range is 6-8 p.m. and sprawls from the Hilton’s Grand Ballroom to the Lagoon Lanai. Pre-Taste activities include a 3 p.m. culinary demo, with sampling, Grass-Fed Beef Cooking 101.
Ticket prices for the evening Taste and Cooking demo are conveniently sold online at www.tasteofthehawaiianrange.com. Taste tickets remain priced at $40 presale and $60 at the door, while the cooking demo is $10. The above link also lists ticket sale locations.