We’re expanding our footprint at the Old Kahilu Town Hall (Mana Christian ‘Ohana) behind Parker Ranch Center in Waimea. Culinary stations will be both inside and out, with tents located on both the windward and leeward sides of the hall.
This year’s gala on September 7 also has some new culinary participants: Chef Bonita Lao of Laulima Food Patch, Kuleana Rum Shack and the Royal Kona Resort. Wanting to wet your whistle is the new Hawaiian Beverage Company of Kailua-Kona, which offers four craft beverages featuring local ingredients: Passionade, Ginger Beer, Olena Tonic and Cold Kona Brew.
In addition to the newbies, there’s a full lineup of chefs and their restaurants, in addition to culinary students from both Hawai‘i Community Colleges in Hilo and Kona. Just a sampling of their tasty offerings includes lamb stuffed with sweet pumpkin and homemade chorizo by Chef Allen Hess of Mai Grille.
Marking its 23rd year, the Taste Gala has a unique format where culinary stations are assigned a cut of local, pasture-raised beef, pork, lamb and goat. Attendees “graze” among the stations, which are identified by meat cut and restaurant or resort name. Come hungry!
Resort Debuts with Returning Chef
Royal Kona Resort, located on Ali‘i Drive in the heart of Kailua Village and known for its oceanside Don the Beachcomber Restaurant and Mai Tai Bar, debuts this year with Executive Chef George Gomes at the helm.
Chef Gomes, a HCC-Kona graduate, has wowed Taste diners over the years with his innovative uses of meat cuts. He has probably prepared them all—or close to it! This year, chef is sure to again dazzle diners with savory Braised Beef Shank, Baked Potato Ravioli and Sea Asparagus Salsa Verde. Yum!
Waimea Native a First-Timer with Kona Restaurant
Chef Bonita Lao, whose parents operate Don’s Chinese Kitchen in Parker Ranch Center, comes to Taste representing her restaurant located in Kona Crossroads Shopping Center, Laulima Food Patch, and Bonita Lao Catering.
Describing her cuisine, Lao shares, “My goal is to incorporate global flavors with modern food preparation techniques while being inspired by our land and produce here to create foods of nutritional value.” Lau says she relies on plant-based sauces for her dishes rather than those made of cream and butter.
Laulima opened in 2016 with a focus to provide healthy and sustainable food that’s made from scratch and utilizes local produce. Laulima, meaning “collaboration; hands joining together for a common goal” serves Build Your Own Farm-to-Table Bowls, bentos and sandwiches. Chef Lao is assigned Beef Top Round and is preparing Garlic Ginger Marinated Beef “Nigiri” with Coconut Rice.
More than juice at Kuleana Rum Shack
The third new participant at this year’s Taste is Kuleana Rum Shack, located at Queens’ MarketPlace in Waikoloa. Newly founded by the isle’s Kuleana Rum Works, which grows heirloom sugarcane in North Kohala and distills it into rum agricole in Kawaihae, the Rum Shack offers a full lunch and dinner menu, plus rum tasting, cocktails and a full bar.
Kuleana will be creating their taste using Beef Sirloin Tip (knuckle). Chef Keola Valdez says they are braising the beef to make a poi stew that incorporates the restaurant’s homemade poi and sugar cane pulp from Kuleana’s rum operation.
For the complete list of Taste culinary participants and their assigned meat cuts, visit https://www.tasteofthehawaiianrange.com/ticketed-evening-taste-gala/.
Tickets are still available for the non-alchoholic Taste of the Hawaiian Range gala 5:30-7:30 p.m. Saturday, Sept.7. Enjoy cuisine at 20 culinary stations featuring local, pasture-raised meats—beef, pork, goat and lamb—plus produce. Pre-sale tickets are $50 at Parker Ranch Store, during the Taste Agriculture Festival at the YMCA Minuke Ole Park behind Parker Ranch Center, or online at www.tasteofthehawaiianrange.com; ticket sales are limited to 500 and are $60 at the door if still available.