Karin Stanton | Hawaii 24/7 Editor
More than 1,000 hungry people crowded the Hilton Waikoloa Village ballroom and patio Friday evening to sample the tasty treats offered up by chefs from across the island and state.
A total of 36 top chefs dazzled diners during the Taste “grazing” extravaganza that featured healthy, forage-fed meats and locally grown fruits, vegetables, herbs, mushrooms, honeys and beverages.
Meats on the menu included 22 cuts of dry-aged, grass-fed beef — everything from tongue to tail — plus lamb, mutton, goat, pork and wild and domestic boar.
Each culinary station received 100 pounds of meat to create the dish of their choice.
An informal poll of diners found no clear favorite this year, as no-one named the same dish twice. However, several people noted they finished their evening with a dollop of coffee ice cream and a cookie.
Earlier in the afternoon, activities included a culinary demo on how to use and prepare 100 percent pasture-raised beef.
Joannie Dobbs, faculty member of the Human Nutrition, Food and Animal Sciences Dept. at UH Manoa, gave a presentation on the nutritional benefits of grass-finished beef.
In addition, the cooking demonstration featured Four Seasons Resort Hualalai Executive Chef James Babian, who showed how to prepare Grilled Tri-Tip with Kiawe-Smoked Kabocha Pumpkin and Braciole de Manzo or Italian beef roll.
Babian is an award-winning culinary leader in using locally sourced food and the Four Seasons Resort Hualalai purchases up to three, whole, grass-fed beef animals each month from our local ranching community.
Open since the 1960’s, the Mealani Research Station is part of the University of Hawaii at Manoa College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources (CTAHR). It’s located on the east side of Waimea on Highway 19 and investigates and demonstrates products for Hawaii County farmers and ranchers to use.
The agriculture showcase started in 1996 as the Mealani Forage Field Day and A Taste of the Hawaiian Range. During the day, Mealani hosted an on-site Forage Field Day with tours of the forage gar- dens, educational seminars for ranchers and food producers, plus presentations by top, ag-related speakers, such as Jo Robinson, best-selling author of “Pasture Perfect.”
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