New this year is a 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 some of the partnered ranchers and chefs to get their take on the challenges of providing local beef and the benefits of using it.
Triple D Ranch with Village Burger
Duane De Luz of Triple D Ranch manages 600 acres between two locations: O‘okala and Honokaia (between Honoka‘a and Kukuihaele). The family operation has been committed to 100 percent grass-fed beef since it started in 1906.
Triple D typically delivers 70 steers and heifers to market annually, overseeing up to 180 animals at any one time in their grass-fed finishing program. DeLuz says they farm a variety of forage that produces well at their two locations: pangola, star and guinea grasses, plus legumes like clover and plantation peanut. The fourth generation rancher says proper pasture management and rotation of herds is key to being successful.
“While prices for wean-offs (calves) to finish on the Mainland are high, we keep ours at home,” says Duane. “By keeping our animals here, we’re feeding the local community and ensuring jobs are here to process and distribute the beef. We are happy to support our fellow local businesses.”
With the motto, “Supporting our Island Ranchers, One Hamburger at a Time,” Chef Edwin Goto of Village Burger has made
local food sustainability the mantra at his Parker Ranch Center restaurant in Waimea. He does local in a big way by using ingredients that he can source “close to home” and listing them on the wall for hungry customers to see.
“I buy local beef because it’s in our backyard,” Goto, a long-time executive chef, explains. “It’s convenient and supports our local ranches.” He says pasture-raised beef produces burgers that are juicy and not greasy, so “you feel good after you eat them.”
Chef combines chuck and brisket to make his delicious burgers. For this year’s Taste, he’s assigned beef chuck roll to prepare and is thinking about doing something unique with it. “Maybe I’ll braise it and make a pot roast, or a unique meat loaf, perhaps with an Asian twist,” he muses.
Ponoholo Ranch with Chef Allen Hess of Mauna Lani Bay Hotel and Bungalows
Ponoholo Ranch is located along Kohala Mountain Road in Kapa‘au. With 11,000 acres it is the isle’s second largest ranch with range running from the mountain to the sea. The ranch generally runs a herd of 4,500 to 5,000 animals, but due to past drought, it currently has a herd of 3,000 mother cows, according to president Sabrina White.
Principally a cow-calf operation, Ponoholo ships the bulk of its animals to be finished on the Mainland. Some are finished and marketed as pasture-raised beef through the Country Natural Beef program, meaning they are fed a combination of pasture, potatoes and other natural products with no added hormones or antibiotics. Other animals are processed through the commodity beef market.
The ranch also “keeps a couple 100 head here” for finishing on grass.
“I feel pretty good to be able to provide for our local market, as long as the local market can support it,” says White, a third-generation rancher with a degree in animal science. “It has to make economic sense to keep our cattle here.”
She explains, “Beef prices on the Mainland are currently at a record high. Hawai’i needs to keep up and raise the price. We’ll support our local retailers because they are coming around to raising prices, but eventually there’s a breaking point…and then we’ll sell to the Mainland.”
Chef Allen Hess is a long-time supporter of local beef; he used it while working at Merriman’s, Alan Wong’s Hualalai Grill and Allen’s Table, and now at Mauna Lani’s CanoeHouse.
“Local beef is tasty,” he says, adding he supports efforts to continue to improve the product’s consistency in quality as he can get a good New York Strip steak and filet mignon, but has “trouble getting a good ribeye.”
During Taste, Chef Hess is assigned beef tri-tip. “I’ll beak it down (trim to get the lean meat) and make a tri tip furikake stuffed in a clear cone sushi.” Furikake is a flavorful, dry seasoning typically sprinkled on top of rice—considered the salt and pepper of Japan, it’s crunchy, salty and briny with a hint of seafood. Chef will also do a beef nacho on homemade shrimp chips.
Tix for Taste are available online or at 12 islandwide locations. Visit www.TasteoftheHawaiianRange.com