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Mealani’s Taste of the Hawaiian Range (Sept. 30)

(Photo special to Hawaii 24/7)


Dry-aged, 100 percent grass-fed beef — prepared using local produce and products — is what’s for dinner at the 16th Mealani’s Taste of the Hawaiian Range and Agriculture Festival on Friday, Sept. 30 at the Hilton Waikoloa Village.

Thirty-five chefs are preparing a wide variety of succulent beef cuts — everything from tongue to tail — to wow attendees from 6-8 p.m. That includes beef heart, cheek and the infamous “rocky mountain oysters” or bull testicles.

In addition, some of the chefs will be concocting culinary creations using other forage-fed meats that are free from added antibiotics and hormones: lamb, mutton, goat and USDA-inspected wild boar.

It’s all part of the culinary adventure at the annual event that showcases the isle’s grass-fed beef industry while bringing together local ranchers, farmers, restaurateurs and eager eaters to celebrate a bounty of locally produced food.

While “tasting,” festival goers can meet Hawaii’s food producers at gaily decorated vendor booths and talk story with the people who make a living growing and producing our food. Taste also affords local food producers the opportunity to hookup with isle chefs, wholesale buyers and consumers.

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.” KTA sells grass-fed beef under its Mountain Apple brand.

When at Taste, be sure to say hello and savor the delicious food presented by some of our isle’s top grass-fed beef supporters. They include Executive Chef James Babian of the Four Seasons Resort Hualalai.

The Kaupulehu resort uses a whole, dry-aged, grass-fed beef carcass every week to stock its kitchens and has produced fabulous new menu items like Big Island Beef Cheek Terrine and Tri Tip with Crispy Oysters for the award-winning Pahu ia restaurant.

For this year’s Taste, Four Seasons is challenged with using goat, which was a big hit in 2010 when prepared by Oahu Chef Ed Kenney of Town restaurant.

Look for Chef Louis Mellaci, executive chef of Roy’s Waikoloa Bar and Grill, who is a strong proponent of local beef, sourcing it for the restaurant’s filet mignon, osso buco and Bruddah Lou’s Bombucha Beef Ribs. This year at Taste, Mellaci is assigned to use beef heart and he’s working on creating a sausage.

“I feel the quality from our local beef is better,” Mellaci said. “It’s natural and not mass-produced. I like to let cows be cows and be pasture-raised. This comes through in the meat’s flavor—it tastes like Hawaii. It’s a privilege and honor to serve it.”

There are numerous other grass-fed beef proponents to meet at Taste including Chef Joshua Ketner of Hilo Bay Cafe, Chef Ken Takahashi of Honolulu Burger Company, Chef Kapo Kealoha of 4 Kings Kitchen, Chef Casey Halpern of Cafe Pesto-Hilo and Chef Michelle Yamaguchi of Umeke Market.

Tickets prices for the evening Taste and Cooking 101 demo are conveniently sold online at

Taste tickets remain priced at $40 presale and $60 at the door, while the fee for the cooking demo is $10.

For general event information, phone 808-987-3432.

Mealani’s Taste of the Hawaiian Range and Agriculture Festival provides a venue for sustainable agricultural education, encouragement and support of locally produced ag products. The premiere ag-tourism event is a partnership between CTAHR, Hawaii Cattlemen’s Association, Hawaii Cattlemen’s Council, Kulana Foods and community volunteers.

Sponsorship also includes the Hawaii Tourism Authority, the Hawaii County Research and Development, Big Island Resource Conservation & Development, Hawaii Community College Food Service & Culinary Program, Kamehameha Schools and KTA Super Stores. The quality and growth of this event are rooted in small business participation, sponsorship and in-kind donations.


Nine new restaurants debut at Taste of the Hawaiian Range

Hailing from Honolulu to Hilo and beyond to Los Angeles, nine new restaurants and their chefs are participating at the 16th Mealani’s Taste of the Hawaiian Range and Agriculture Festival.

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.

Chef David Abrahams

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 Cafe in Waimea.

Chef David Abrahams of Red Water Cafe 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.

Chef Ken Takahashi

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 Oahu 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,” said Takahashi, who prides himself in using as much Hawaii 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 Oahu 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.

Chef Robert Wemischner

“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,” Wemischner said.

He will use a combination of oolong and black teas and says his dish will showcase “the best of localvore eating.”

In addition to “grazing” at a host of culinary stations, festival goers can enjoy samples from a variety of Hawaii’s local food producers offering tastes of chocolate, honey, vegetable chips, red veal, sugar cane juice, grass-fed sausage and more.

Also on display will be ag-related educational exhibits. It’s all part of the culinary adventure at the annual event that showcases the isle’s grass-fed beef industry while bringing together local ranchers, farmers, restaurateurs and eager eaters to celebrate a bounty of locally produced food.


Waimea paniolo Walter Stevens to be honored by Paniolo Preservation Society

For the Paniolo Preservation Society, which is dedicated to perpetuating Hawaii’s proud and living ranching tradition, the Taste also an opportunity to honor men and women who define the expertise and values required to steward land and animals and build a nationally respected livestock industry with a unique, culturally rich lifestyle.

Thus, at this year’s “Taste of the Hawaiian Range,” PPS will pay tribute to the late Walter Stevens of Waimea, who continues to this day to be revered as “The Great Horseman of Parker Ranch.”

Walter “Wala” Stevens was a career cowboy at Parker Ranch and considered by many old-timers to be the finest horseman the ranch ever produced in its 164-year history.

Walter and his brother, Charles (Kale) Stevens, made tremendous contributions to Parker Ranch and to the ranching community in Hawaii.

Born in 1931, young Walter was raised by his step-father, John Keonaona “Makua” Stevens. Jr., after the untimely death of his father, Charles Stevens, from tuberculosis. Makua was an excellent horseman and soon recognized this innate gift in young Walter, mentoring him in the finest points of bitting, reining, and cow-horse training.

By the age of 14, Walter had secured a fine reputation as a horseman and cowboy, and had his sights set in only one direction: Parker Ranch.

Walter’s tenure at Aina Paka (Parker Ranch) began humbly at the Breaking Pen where he soon became sought out by the other cowboys for his skills at gently breaking green colts.

In 1951, Walter was assigned to the ranch’s purebred cattle operation under Bull Johnston, where his skill with cattle equaled that of his skill with horses. 1952 brought him back to the Breaking Pen and he had barely settled in when he was called into military service during the Korean conflict.

Returning to Parker Ranch after three years at war, he worked the purebred herd, managed the breeding stallions at Pukalani Stables and also served as ranch owner Richard Smarts’ personal mounted valet, wrangler and “ambassador of aloha” to the many distinguished guests that Smart welcomed to the ranch.

Walter Steven’s skills as a horseman were legendary and a direct reflection of his personal integrity: he was calm, fair, gentle, yet to the point with an intelligence to match any challenge.

Together, the Stevens brothers helped move the ranch to a higher standard of excellence that instilled great pride among its employees. Both Kale and Walter passed away in 1994, leaving behind a legacy of professionalism, stewardship and great accomplishment that serves as a high-water mark for all Parker Ranch paniolo.

Guests at the 2011 Taste event will have an opportunity to talk story about Stevens at the PPS booth and also participate in a give-away of a stunning, seldom-seen 2’x3’ black-and-white archival photograph of Stevens.

PPS involvement in “Taste of the Hawaiian Range” this year formally launches what will be a three-year campaign to transform Pukalani Stables into an exciting, interactive “living history” heritage site and community gathering place.

For more information about Paniolo Preservation Society, or details on use of the new Paniolo Heritage Center at Pukalani Stables for a family gathering or group celebration, visit

Walter Stevens (Photo courtesy of Paniolo Preservation Society)

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