Guest Contributor: Denise Laitinen
Did you know that Hawaii Island produces 70 percent of all the cattle in Hawaii? Did you know that there are more than 4,282 farms on island? Well, get your taste buds ready and come hungry – you’ll be able to sample foods from dozens of local ranches and farms at one of the island’s most well-known culinary events tomorrow in Waikoloa. The 20th anniversary of Mealani’s Taste of the Hawaiian Range and Agricultural Festival will take place at the Hilton Waikoloa Village, Friday, Oct. 9, from 6-8 p.m. with cooking demonstrations throughout the day.
A who’s who of celebrity chefs from across Hawaii will be on hand offering mouthwatering dishes featuring the best of locally sourced meats and produce.
More than just a dining event, the Taste of the Hawaiian Range, is a partnership between CTAHR, Hawaii Cattlemen’s Association, Hawaii Cattlemen’s Council, Kulana Foods, UH-Hilo CAFNRM, County of Hawaii Dept. on Environmental Management, and community volunteers to highlight local agriculture and ranching. The popular community event features dozens of vendors, including restaurants, farms, and food producers. You can learn about sustainability, local food products, how to grow your own food, and so much more.
If you’ve never been to Taste of the Hawaiian Range you’re in for a treat. Inside the grand ballroom there are dozens of vendors with samples of delicious food – all grown or made on island. On the adjoining outside lanai you’ll find even more vendors offering sumptuous treats.
Culinary headliners for this year’s event include Bravo TV’s “Top Chef” Fan Favorite Sheldon Simeon of Maui’s Migrant Restaurant; Kevin Hanney of Oahu’s 12th Avenue Grill, the 2015 Hale Aina Best Restaurant of the Year; and the host of TV’s “Family Ingredients,” Ed Kenny of Honolulu’s Town Restaurant.
These celebrity chefs, and 30-some others, will be preparing yummy dishes using pasture-raised beef, lamb, goat, mutton and pork. A variety of beef cuts—from tongue to tail— are utilized so chefs and attendees can get acquainted with not-so-familiar cuts while having fun. The pasture-raised beef is sourced from local, humanely raised cattle that are free of antibiotics and hormones.
In honor of its 20th anniversary there are several new features to this year’s festival. Each attending family will receive a complimentary copy of the Taste of the Hawaiian Range 20th Anniversary Cookbooklet, filled with recipes by local chefs and members of the local beef industry. Also new in 2015 is a digital scavenger hunt where up to 500 guests can use their smartphones and answer questions for a chance to win prizes like restaurant gift certificates and local food products.
Hawaii Regional Cuisine founders Roy Yamaguchi and Peter Merriman will lead the pre-gala’s educational offerings, which are open to the public. Using oxtail and beef tenderloin, Chef Yamaguchi of Roy’s Restaurants will lead a Cooking 101 session on preparing pasture-raised beef at 3 p.m. Peter Merriman, of Merriman’s Restaurants, offers a presentation on purchasing local for the professional kitchen that is geared for college culinary students at 1:30 p.m.
Pre-sale tickets for Taste are $45 and $60 at the door. Entry to Cooking 101 is $10 while the 1:30 p.m. class is free. A free parking and shuttle service to Taste is available from ‘Anaeho‘omalu Bay noon-10 p.m.; follow parking signs on Waikoloa Beach Drive. Guests are encouraged to come early to avoid shuttle lines. For general event information, phone (808) 969-8209 or purchase tickets online at www.TasteoftheHawaiianRange.com.
Tickets are also on sale at islandwide locations, including Kuhio Grille in Hilo, JJ’s Country Market in Honoka‘a, Kamuela Liquors and Parker Ranch Store in Waimea, Kona Wine Market in Kailua-Kona and Kohala Essence Shop at the Hilton Waikoloa Village.
Denise Laitinen is a long time Hawaii resident and author of more than 1,000 articles, including regular contributions to Ke Ola magazine. Denise specializes in writing about luxury real estate and Hawaiian culture. Read her latest Ke Ola article about Kumukahi Lighthouse here or follow her Facebook page here.