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HTFG taps chefs for supporting local fruit


Five Hawaii chefs were recognized for their support and continued use of local fruit at the recent 20th Annual Hawaii International Tropical Fruit Conference at the Aston Aloha Beach Resort.

Chef James Babian

They are Roy Yamaguchi of Roy’s Restaurants, Alan Wong of Alan Wong’s Restaurants, Ed Kenny of Oahu’s Town and Downtown Restaurants, Kevin Hanney of Oahu’s 12th Avenue Grill and James Babian of the Big Island’s Four Seasons Resort Hualalai.

“Hawaii leads the country in farmer-chef relationships thanks to dedicated and creative chefs like those who receive this award,” says Ken Love, executive director of the statewide Hawaii Tropical Fruit Growers Association, which hosted the annual conference. “These symbiotic relationships between growers and chefs create a very special experience for our visitors.”

The three-day gathering offered workshops and presentations by fruit experts, including keynote speaker Noris Ledesma of the Fairchild Tropical Botanical Garden in Florida who presented “For the Love of Mangoes” and “Growing and Marketing Specialty Crops.” Other topics covered included “Breadfruit-Its Use and Potential” by Dr. Diane Ragone of the National Tropical Botanical Garden on Kauai.

Chef Peter Merriman of the statewide Merriman’s Restaurants joined Kauai Community College chef instructor Steve Nakata and growers Ned Whitlock and John Wooten in a lively farmer-chef panel discussion.

Merriman is one of a handful of chefs previously cited by HTFG for using local fruit. The others are from the Big Island: Matthew Zubrod of Monettes, William Trask of Hawaiian Culinary Consultants, Paul Heerlein of Hawaii Community College, West Hawaii, Charles Charbonneau of Hilton Waikoloa Village and George Gomes Jr. of the Mauna Kea Beach Hotel.

Incorporated in 1989 to promote tropical fruit grown in Hawaii, HTFG is a statewide association of tropical fruit growers, packers, distributors and hobbyists dedicated to tropical fruit research, education, marketing and promotion.

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