Meet the Chefs Who Support Our Beef Industry at Mealani’s Taste of the Hawaiian Range

Local grass-fed beef is annually the star of Mealani’s Taste of the Hawaiian Range and this year’s event on Friday, Sept. 21 at the Hilton Waikoloa Village is no exception. The annual event puts 100 pounds of 100 percent grass-fed beef into the hands of each participating chef to dazzle diners. Each chef gets a different cut—everything from nose to tail—and combines it with a cornucopia of local ingredients.

Mealani's Taste of the Hawaiian Range

Many Taste chefs are fans of grass-fed beef and readily share why they like the island-raised product. Each has a different reason.

“We use it because of the taste at ‘Umeke Market,” says Michelle Yamaguchi of Honolulu. “When you start with a great product, it’s hard to go wrong. Also, avoiding the use of hormones and antibiotics as much as possible is important to our customers.”

Cary Peterson of Kohala Burger and Taco in Kawaihae appreciates the environmental benefits of using grass-fed beef.

“I strive to leave a small environmental footprint and local beef requires much less energy and resources to process and deliver,” Peterson details.  “I also think the flavor is great for the type of food I do, which is very simple and straightforward.  I prefer to use a sweet bun for my burgers and the earthy flavor of the beef goes perfect with it. From a health standpoint, grass-fed beef is a no brainer—it’s antibiotic- and hormone-free!”

Mealani's Taste Of The Hawaiian Range and Agriculture Festival

2011 Mealani’s Taste Of The Hawaiian Range and Agriculture Festival

Chef Joshua Ketner adds, “At Hilo Bay Café, we believe grass-fed beef is good for our community and our environment, plus the taste is wonderful.” Ketner’s favorite cut is 21-day, dry-aged rib eye as “the marbling, taste and tenderness all work together.

Hilo native Ken Takahashi of Honolulu Burger Company says his business plan revolves around the concept of eating Big Isle grass-fed beef.

“Our main goal is to use grass-fed beef as hamburger patties for our burgers first,” he explains.  “In addition, we use sliced, grass-fed sirloin for our teri and philly dip sandwiches, as well as boneless short ribs and brisket for our braised short rib sandwiches.”

James Babian, executive chef of Four Seasons Resort Hualalai, adds, “We want to support our local beef industry while adhering to our culinary direction of seasonal, regional and artisanal.” The resort purchases a 21-day aged, whole beef carcass every week for use in its on-site restaurants and staff cafeteria.

This year’s Taste again features over 30 chefs preparing locally produced food to wow attendees from 6-8 p.m. In addition to grass-fed beef, some of the chefs will be concocting culinary creations using other forage-fed meats: lamb, mutton, goat and USDA-inspected wild boar.

The use of different meats—and meat cuts—is all part of the culinary adventure when local ranchers, farmers, restaurateurs and eager eaters celebrate a bounty of locally produced food. While “tasting,” festival goers can meet a wide range of Hawai‘i’s food producers at gaily decorated vendor booths and talk story with the people who make a living growing and producing our food.

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 2012 installment of Grass-Fed Beef Cooking 101. This year’s guest presenter is Chef Babian and he will be preparing Grilled Tri-Tip with Kiawe-Smoked Kabocha Pumpkin and Braciole de Manzo or Italian beef roll.

Tickets 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 admission for the cooking demo is $10. Watch for ticket giveaways on Facebook at Taste of the Hawaiian Range and Twitter #TasteHI.

For general event information, phone (808) 969-8228.

Anyone who requires an auxiliary aid or service for effective communication or a modification of policies and procedures to participate in this event should contact Jeri Moniz at 808-960-8411 as soon as possible and no later than Sept. 14.

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, UH-Hilo CAFNRM, County of Hawaii Dept. on Environmental Management and community volunteers. Sponsorship also includes the Hawaii Tourism Authority, the Hawaii County Research and Development, Hawaii Community College Food Service & Culinary Program and KTA SuperStores. The quality and growth of this event are rooted in small business participation, sponsorship and in-kind donations. For more information, visit

*Editors Note*  I suggest folks get in line early… here is a picture as the line was building last year:

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