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Taste of the Hawaiian Range features grass-fed beef and more on Big Island

October 2, 2013 - Carla Tracy

Are you planning a trip to the Big Island this weekend? Well, you most likely won’t be visiting any national parks due to the government shutdown.

But there is something fun to do on the sunny Kohala Coast. Come hungry to the island's mega agriculture festival, Mealani's Taste of the Hawaiian Range from 6 to 8 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 4. The 18th annual beefy event sprawls inside and out of the Hilton Waikoloa Village. Tickets are $40 presale and $60 at the door.

“The menu headlines dry-aged, grass-finished beef-sourced from local, humanely raised cattle that spend their entire life eating grass after being weaned,” according to publicist Fern Gavelek, who was also named “journalist of the year" in Hawaii County in recent years.

“It is free of antibiotics and hormones. Animal science research shows grass-fed beef is low in fat and calories, contains beneficial omega-3 fatty acids and is one of the richest known sources of conjugated linoleic acid (CIA), which has anti-cancer properties.”

Thirty-five Hawaii chefs are assigned to prepare a whopping 100 pounds of a specific cut of beef-or locally sourced pork, lamb, mutton, goat or USDA-inspected wild boar — and the result is a festive adventure of tasting everything from tongue to tail.

One particular chef station annually serves Kohala Mountain Oysters, a nickname for local bull's testicles, is always a taste curiosity.

"The primary reason to assign all the beef cuts is for chefs and attendees to get acquainted with them while having fun," emphasizes Jeri Moniz, event chairperson and rancher. "By utilizing the whole animal, there's no waste and the value of the animal goes up. This is important for our livestock industry."

Taste also showcases the efforts of hard-working farmers, using a bounty of local vegetables, fruits and fungi in the chef's culinary offerings. Attendees may talk story with local growers, ranchers and producers of value-added food products while enjoying samples. In addition, Taste offers educational displays.

Those wanting to learn first-hand how to use and prepare 100 percent pasture-raised beef can attend the event's annual Grass-Fed Beef Cooking 101 culinary demonstration. This year's guest presenter is Hubert Des Marais, executive chef of The Fairmont Orchid, Hawai'i. A strong supporter of sourcing "local first," Chef Des Marais uses two-to-three whole beef carcasses per month at the AAA Four Diamond award-winning resort. The 3 p.m. presentation includes sampling and is $10.

Online ticket links for both Taste and Cooking 101, plus islandwide ticket locations, can be found at Taste of the Hawaiian Range Website. Watch for ticket giveaways on Facebook at Taste of the Hawaiian Range and Twitter #TasteHI. For general event information, phone (808) 969-8228.

Hawai'i residents can take advantage of Hilton Waikoloa Village's Taste of the Hawaiian Range Package with rates starting at $229 per room on Oct. 4 that includes two tickets for Taste. For details, and to book a stay under an exclusive Taste of the Hawaiian Range room package, call 1-800-HILTONS.


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Grass-fed beef and more will devoured by hungry crowds.