Anthony and I were able to attend the 12th Annual Mealani's A Taste of the Hawaiian Range Food Festival this past Friday evening, September 28th, held at the Hilton Waikoloa Village.
Photo: Taken by Chef Allan Okuda in front of the HCC-Hilo School of Culinary Arts booth.
The Taste has become the showcase for our many Hawaii Island ranches, farms and food producers of all kinds and since its inception in 1996, it has increased so much in size, participation and attendance that through the years it has had to move to different and larger venues.
Photo: The Big Island Grill on Kuakini Hwy in Kailua Kona used a huge wok and bamboo steamer to prepare their assigned meat - which was ground beef.
Attendance last year was about 2,000 and by the crowds we saw, we figured it had to be either that many or even more this year.
Photo: Chef George Mavrothalassitis of Chef Macro's Restaurant in Honolulu was assigned appropriately enough, lamb for his special dish.
The event is sponsored by the Cooperative Extension Service of the University of Hawaii at Manoa's College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources (CTAHR) as a celebration showcasing not only the naturally grass fed Hawaii grown beef, but also all of the bounty grown in our fertile 'aina.
Photo: Assorted heirloom tomatoes from the Hamakua Springs Farm in Pepe'ekeo.
Photo: Coffe and tea display from the Hawaii Coffee Company.
Most everyone in the world now knows that this island grows coffee, but most know only of Kona coffee....but there is wonderful coffee grown in three other regions on this island! Also tea, vanilla beans and cacao beans which are used right here on the island to make chocolate!!!
Over 30 chefs from Hawaii Island and Oahu restaurants participated in the event, as well as the culinary students from both the Hilo and the West side campus of the Hawaii Community College School of Culinary Arts. The chefs are challenged to prepare the various cuts of meat assigned to them by luck of the draw....from sirloin to chuck and hamburger and including tongue, tail and tripe.
Other meats fetured and also raised on the island are chicken, lamb, mutton and pork. Island grown abalone was introduced at this event for the first time.
Photo: Ada Pulin, owner of Tex's Drive-In in Honoka'a, cutting the dough for malasadas. Tex's is a must stop for us when driving to or from Kona side for some scrumptious Portuguese donuts called malasadas.
Photo: Frying the malasadas in a huge wok. Once done the pillow-like malasadas are drained then filled with fruit fillings or custards.
The largest event of it's kind in the State of Hawaii, it is not only educational but a celebration of what our island has to offer by highlighting the diversification of crops and by the many value added products that make use of our island's bounty.
Part 2 will follow in a few days!