Friday | October 20, 2017
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Mealani’s Taste of the Hawaiian Range promises offal good time

It’s a meat lover’s paradise, where nose-to-tail eating is highly encouraged.

Mealani’s Taste of the Hawaiian Range, happening Friday, is a feast of delectable dishes featuring local grass-fed beef, pork, lamb, goat, mutton and wild boar.

The mouthwatering creations are well-prepared by experienced hands — more than 30 of the state’s top chefs.

Their culinary challenge lies in preparing less desirable cuts of meat, including tongue, testicles and tripe, parts that make some diners squeamish.

Besides food and flavor, the 18th annual event is all about connections.

The goal is to educate the public about Hawaii Island’s bounty of the high-quality sustainable agricultural products and where our foods come from, as well as to bridge the production-consumer gap.

It also gives attendees an opportunity to talk story one-on-one with producers who are a vital part of the community and economy, said Jeri Moniz of KK Ranch, who is the festival’s chairwoman.

Another goal is to sprout consumer demand for local food or products and cultivate support for the island’s agriculture industry, which faces challenges such as high production costs and urban development pressure, she said.

Mealani’s Taste of the Hawaiian Range will be held from 6 to 8 p.m. at the Hilton Waikoloa Village.

Hundreds of foodies are expected to attend. There were 2,000 attendees last year.

Tickets cost $40 presale and $60 at the door.

In West Hawaii, tickets can be purchased at JJ’s Country Market, Island Naturals, Kona Wine Market, Gio’s Gelato, Kohala Burger and Taco, Kohala Essence Shop, Parker Ranch Store and Kamuela Liquors. Tickets are also available on the festival’s website, tasteofthehawaiianrange.com.

All proceeds go directly toward the following year’s event, which is put on by more than 150 volunteers from the University of Hawaii College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources, Hawaii Cattlemen’s Association and its council, Kulana Foods, and the community, Moniz said. Without their generosity and support, along with that from local ranchers, farmers and producers, the event would not be possible or as successful as it is, she added.

This event started in 1996 as the Mealani Forage Field Day and A Taste of the Hawaiian Range. It was then hosted by the Mealani Research Station, which investigates and demonstrates products for island farmers and ranchers to use. The Forage Field Day, held at the Waimea facility, featured tours of forage gardens, educational seminars and top agriculture-related speakers. The food portion followed in the Kahilu Town Hall, Moniz said.

A year prior, Mealani had started researching grass-fed beef. The goal was to produce quality grade, forage-finish beef to market within 18 to 24 months, raised entirely on grass, as well as to develop a niche, high-value product free from hormones and antibiotics for the discerning consumer.

Today, the promotion of and education about grass-fed beef is still a major component of the festival, where exhibits and demonstrations are offered explaining the differences between grass-fed and grain-fed beef, along with how this meat is produced. The health benefits of grass-fed beef are also shared, Moniz said. There’s a special cooking presentation at 3 p.m. Friday by Hubert Des Marais, executive chef at The Fairmont Orchid, Hawaii. Des Marais will show how to use and prepare 100 percent grass-fed beef. His presentation costs an additional $10 to attend and includes samplings of his boneless brisket and tongue creations.

For more information, call Moniz at 969-8228 or email info@tasteofthehawaiianrange.com.