Taste of the Hawaiian Range
Going back for my fourth appearance at Mealani’s Taste of the Hawaiian Range, it seems like we finally have it down. My first two times with Roy’s went smoothly enough but two years ago, representing Tiki’s Grill & Bar, we found ourselves unexpectedly in the middle of an obstacle course. We pretty much had to sprint to the finish in order to pull it off in time.
The first hurdle was the Kona Ironman triathlon. We were unknowingly coming in just a week ahead of the world championships. This turned out to be one of the busiest days for traveling to the Big Island as the athletes were arriving early to acclimatize to the weather and the time zone. We managed to get a reservation on an early flight so getting there wouldn’t have been a problem; except for our second hurdle.
My First High Security Sauce Alert
Each year 30 to 40 chefs are assigned a specific cut of beef or Big Island pasture-raised pork, mutton, goat or feral pig. Two years ago we were assigned mutton and as part of the preparation for the event we had made our marinade ahead of time. When TSA security looked at our bottle labeled “lamb marinade” something about the red hue from the char siu gave them the idea that it contained lamb’s blood. I am now well aware that transporting blood on and airplane, if not against regulations, is at least strongly frowned upon. Getting that issue sorted out took long enough that we missed our flight. Then we were back to hurdle #1.
After a 6 hour delay in making the 45 minute hop to Kona we were substantially behind schedule. The story had a happy ending but it was a day I don’t plan to repeat. This year we’ve been assigned the feral pig. During my four appearances I have yet to get any of the more exotic cuts like tongue, tail or the always hotly anticipated Rocky Mountain Oysters aka bull testicles. Feral pig or Big Island Wild Boar is not something you find at your local grocery store but I have often prepared it for fundraisers and our special wine tasting evenings.
This year the dish is well planned and most importantly I’ve prepared for snafus. We’ll be arriving the day before to prepare our animal, fabricate the dish and get set up for the next day. We’ll be preparing 1000 portions for the event.
This event continually keeps growing and in the process has become one of the biggest of its kind. There will be 40 chef stations this year with most of Hawaii’s top restaurants represented. For those that can make it over it’s always a spectacular evening with the sun setting over the ocean surrounded by the fantasy land grounds of the Hilton Waikoloa Village.
A Cut Above
If you can’t make it over you can at least get an idea of what you’ll be missing if you watch my Taste of the Hawaiian Range promo on the KGMB Hawaii News Now morning show on October 2nd. Tom Asano from Kulana Foods, the same place we get all of the grass fed ground beef we use exclusively at Tiki’s, will be bringing me a prime cut of Big Island pasture raised beef. I’ll be doing a live demo of the dish I’ve prepared for the Hale Aina awards ceremony. For the demo I’ll be featuring Yukke, a Korean version of beef tartare. The dish uses raw beef and is a great way to serve beef when you can get a really good quality cut like this. Hopefully Steve Uyehara and Grace Lee will be excited about telling everyone how great it tastes.
The 20th annual Mealani’s Taste of the Hawaiian Range takes place on Friday, October 9 from 6:00-8:00pm. For more information and to purchase tickets online you can check out their website www.tasteofthehawaiianrange.com.