About 1,200 eager eaters filled the Lagoon Lanai and Grand Ballroom of the Hilton Waikoloa Village on September 30 to celebrate our local food and the people who produce it. Meat was on the menu-dry-aged, 100 percent grass-fed beef, plus lamb, mutton, goat and wild boar-and a cornucopia of locally farmed ingredients.
This year’s Mealani’s Taste of the Hawaiian Range began in the early afternoon with a pork industry seminar for 81 community college culinary students and continued with the 2011 installment of Cooking Grass-Fed Beef 101, an engaging, public cooking demonstration led by KTA’s Derek Kurisu and Chef Scott Hiraishi of Sam Choy’s Kai Lanai. Samples of Shortribs Delight and Braised Oxtail were passed all around, along with their recipes.
At the evening Taste, festival-goers enjoyed delicious cuisine prepared by 35 chefs, samples from 30 local food producers and a dozen displays focusing on agriculture- a whopping 85 “things to do.” Country music-paniolo style-was performed by George Kahumoku and Friends to serenade attendees munching on kiawe-smoked roast beef, kim chee meatloaf, kalua pork and tempura meatball lollipops.
Food producer booths ranged from the fresh produce and edible flowers of Adaptations, to the sweet cane juice of Kalapana Organics. Educational displays encouraged conversation and offered handouts, including UH’s College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resource’s (CTAHR) “Benefits of Edible Ginger” and the saddle-making know-how of Ka Hana No’eau. The Paniolo Preservation Society kicked off a membership drive by awarding a standout photo of the late Walter “Wala” Stevens, Parker Ranch’s legendary horseman.
Taste was again put on as a Zero Waste event with the help of County of Hawai’i’s Dept. of Environmental Management and the students of Kanu O Ke Aina. As such, attendees easily and efficiently divided their throw-aways into a host of waste bins at each trash station.
Mahalo to all the hard-working volunteers and generous sponsors who made the 16th Mealani’s Taste of the Hawaiian Range a success. You have furthered the event’s goal of educating everyone that our Hawai’i Island ranchers produce quality, grass-fed beef that tastes good-all of it-from nose to tail!
Photos by Fern Gavelek