They’ll be creating everything from Hawaiian Tea-Infused Beef Brisket to tempura-fried Hamburger Lollipops. Nine new restaurants and their chefs are participating at the 16th Mealani’s Taste of the Hawaiian Range and Agriculture Festival on Friday, Sept. 30 at the Hilton Waikoloa Village.
They join a total of 35 culinary stations offering local, forage-fed meats prepared with fresh fruit and vegetables. Meats on the menu include a variety of dry-aged, grass-fed beef cuts—everything from tongue to tail—plus lamb, mutton, goat, pork and wild boar.
Four of Taste’s culinary newbies are also fresh to the Big Isle’s dining scene: Sam Choy’s Kai Lanai of Keauhou-Kona, Eddie Aikau Restaurant & Museum in Waikoloa, Kohala Burger & Taco in Kawaihae and Red Water Café in Waimea.
Chef David Abrahams of Red Water Café and Hawaii Gourmet Society will be making savory roast beef from grass-fed beef bottom round. Each culinary station gets 100 pounds of meat to concoct into a delicious culinary creation.
“What’s fun about Taste is our meat assignment is a surprise so we’re challenged to come up with a dish,” says Abrahams, who participated before at Taste while with Merriman’s. “I’ve been assigned everything from tongue to tripe and getting bottom round, a flavorful cut, is a plus. I’ll be doing a special preparation, I’ve been mulling around a few ideas.”
Taste’s format of assigning chefs a variety of meat cuts fulfills its goal of educating both chefs and attendees that all the cuts of grass-finished beef can be enjoyed. In addition, with more of the animal being used, there is less waste and the value of the product goes up—a plus for the local livestock industry.
While Hilo native and Waiakea High School alum Chef Ken Takahashi also isn’t new to Taste, his year-old restaurant is. The owner of Honolulu Burger Company on O’ahu is assigned grass-fed ground beef and he’ll be making Hamburger Lollipops to wow Taste attendees.
“We’ll be using shitake mushrooms from Hamakua, feta cheese from Naked Cow Dairy and Maui onions to craft the ground beef into the meatball treats,” details Takahashi, who prides himself in using as much Hawai’i product as possible. “Then we’ll tempura fry the meat on the stick. It’s going to be fun and I look forward to coming home.”
Also returning to Taste, but with a new restaurant, is Chef Kapolanialaimaka “Kapo” Kealoha of 4Kings Kitchen in Honolulu. Other O’ahu eating establishments making their debut include the Pagoda Restaurant in Honolulu and ‘Umeke Market in Kahala.
Earning his Taste culinary chops all the way from California is chef and author Robert Wemischner. The Los Angeles-based professional pastry chef and culinary educator has authored four books: The Vivid Flavors Cookbook, Gourmet to Go, Cooking with Tea and The Dessert Architect. He comes to Taste on the heels of preparing a host of tea-infused delectables at the LA International Tea Festival.
“I’m looking forward to being the only mainland chef to participate, tying together Hawaiian-grown beef and tea in a tea-braised brisket with wasabi cream,” details Wemischner. He will use a combination of oolong and black teas and says his dish will showcase “the best of localvore eating.”
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 culinary demo, with sampling, on how to use and prepare 100 percent pasture-raised beef. Time is 3 p.m. for the 2011 installment of Grass-Fed Beef Cooking 101. This year’s guest presenter is KTA’s Derek Kurisu of TV’s “Living in Paradise.”
Tickets prices for the evening Taste and Cooking 101 demo are conveniently sold online at www.tasteofthehawaiianrange.com. Taste tickets remain priced at $40 presale and $60 at the door, while the fee for the cooking demo is $10. The above link also lists ticket sale locations.