Mealani Taste of the Hawaiian Range

October 9, 2015

A throng of locals and tourists showed up to enjoy the delicious food creations of our local chefs at the 20th Anniversary of the Mealani’s Taste of the Hawaiian Range at the Hilton Waikoloa Village.  This event promotes local and sustainable food production on the Big Island of Hawaii.
The chefs created dishes from a wide variety of agricultural products available from the Big Island of Hawaii. The meats ranged from beef (tongue, heart, sirloin tip, flank, brisket and many more), goat, mutton, pork, and lamb.

There were also many other stations that offered other local products including macadamia nuts, kombucha, poi, ice cream, and coffee. 

This was my first time attending the Mealani’s Taste of the Hawaiian Range.  I’ve heard about it for many years but the dates never worked out for me.

On to the food.

I wish I had a map showing the layout of the food booths and vendors at least 30 minutes prior to walking through the doors. I would have been able to plan my “grazing strategy” much more effectively. There were over 60 food and vendor booths to visit at this event. There is no way I would have been able to fulfill my initial and unrealistic goal of visiting each booth and tasting every single option available.

I attended this event with my husband and two children. Unfortunately, one of my children had a broken leg and was in a full leg cast and was using crutches.  That made it difficult for him to maneuver and grab plates and eat and walk. He also is a very picky eater and shies away from food that has fruits and vegetables and fancy sauces on it. That was pretty much everything available at the event. He ended up eating a serving of ice cream. My  other child is my adventurous eater and enjoys trying all kinds of foods, but she was starting to feel under the weather and wanted to leave as soon as we got there.  If my teenage children could have had the run of the place as they would have preferred, my husband and I would have been able to graze more effectively.

Despite the obstacles I faced, I was able to walk around and try a few dishes. I was especially excited to have tasted the goat dish by Hilo High alumni and Food Network Top Chef veteran Sheldon Simeon. Simeon now owns Migrant Restaurant on Maui. He mentioned to me that he is in the process of opening a lunch restaurant soon. I hope to be able to eat there on my upcoming trip to Maui and share my experience with you.

Of course, I also wanted to try the dishes that were offered by Hawaii Community College culinary program. The beef tongue salad was cool and refreshing. Chef Instructors Brian and Shawn worked hard with their students to keep the plates coming out for the guests.

Amidst my exotic food grazing, I got to see chefs in their element, say hi to local celebrities like Living In Paradise star Derek Kurisu, and listen to great music.  I had comfort foods like beef stew, chili, and braised oxtail and  also sampled exotic dishes that even included a mountain oyster sushi roll.

Needless to say, I was extremely full as I left the event. I didn’t get to sample many of the other dishes I came across–but there is always next year, right?

On a final note, I want to call attention to the fact that this was a zero waste event.  Props to the planners on this! There were recycling stations all around the event with happy, helpful people telling us which bin to throw each of our discards in. I did my part in lowering the quantity of trash by using only one fork during the event rather than taking a fork from each station.

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