Taste the Big Isle Range

Growing Food Fest Features All-Things Meat (and Delicious)

Taste the Big Isle Range

Every fall on the Kohala Coast of Hawaii’s Big Island, ranchers, cowboys (and gals), foodies and farmers walk past a few parrots, cross over a tram track, climb a staircase, pass a fleet of bronze sculptures, head over a babbling brook and descend into an expansive ballroom inside the Hilton Waikoloa Village for the annual Taste of the Hawaiian Range and Ag Festival. This year the action takes place on Friday, September 30, and you best start saving your appetite.

Thirty-five culinary stations will serve up nearly every possible combination of meats and local farm-harvested delicacies, ranging from dry-aged and grass-fed cuts of beef, boar, goat, pork and mutton. Some of the biggest (and smallest) chefs and restaurateurs—no longer restricted to just Big Island purveyors—hone their recipes all year in order to impress attendees at this Bacchanalian ode to all things ranchy.

New restaurants that will have presence this year include the Eddie Aikau Restaurant and Museum, that opened earlier this summer in Waikoloa; Red Water Café in Waimea; Kohala Burger & Taco in Kawaihae and Sam Choy’s Kai Lanai in Kona town.

Favorites from years passed have included boar ragout with homemade pasta (served inside a massive parmesan bowl), Rocky Mountain oysters and lamb-mint sliders. This year, buzz is spreading about a few new dishes that include: Hamburger lollipops from Hilo chef Ken Takahashi, which will make use of Hamakua mushrooms, feta cheese from Naked Cow Dairy and Maui onions; as well as tea-braised brisket with wasabi cream from California chef and author Robert Wemischner. The list goes on.

The officially billed “Mealani’s Taste of the Hawaiian Range” kicks off at 6 p.m. and lasts two hours, at the Hilton’s Grand Ballroom and Lagoon Lanai. There will be  culinary demos and beverages. Tickets are $40 pre-sale or $60 at the door. The Hilton is offering a special “Taste” package that starts with $229 room rates inclusive of 2 tickets.

Visit www.TasteOfTheHawaiianRange.com or www.hwv.com/taste for the Hilton packages.

"Some of the biggest chefs and restaurateurs hone their recipes all year in order to impress attendees at this Bacchanalian ode to all things ranchy.