Hawai`i Convention Center Puts Local Flavors to the Test for Hawai`i Agriculture Conference

Hawai`i Convention Center Executive Chef Jacob Silver prepares pan-roasted tilapia with red tomato crema live on KHON2’s “Hawaii’s Kitchen” with reporter Manolo Morales, showcasing the main entree for the Hawai`i Agriculture Conference’s 100 Percent Local Hawai`i Products Awards Luncheon at the HCC later that day.

It was a menu more than three months in the making.

As part of the sixth Hawai`i Agriculture Conference, the Hawai`i Convention Center food and beverage team served up a luncheon of fresh fish, salads, fruits, and desserts for 400 guests – with one catch:  Each ingredient had to be sourced from Hawai`i.

Although the Center features local ingredients in its menus as much as possible, it was only the second time that the team has been tasked with creating a menu from 100 percent locally sourced foods, following similar efforts for more than 400 guests at The World Congress of Zero Emissions Initiativesin September 2010.

Chef Mark Noguchi of Pili Hawai`i (far left) prepares a locally sourced steak and vegetables dish live on KHON2’s “Hawaii’s Kitchen,” while reporter Manolo Morales talks with taro farmer Daniel Anthony, founder of Mana Ai, about pounding taro. Noguchi and Anthony were featured chefs at the Hawai`i Agriculture Conference later that day at the HCC.

The two-day agriculture conference, from September 20-21, featured seminars and programs to highlight how partnerships and collaboration can strengthen the state’s agriculture sector.

Registered attendees and guests with a special “Foodie Pass” were able to attend the All-Hawai`i Products Luncheon on September 20, as well as a Pau Hana Reception later that evening.  The reception included nine demonstrations from Hawai`i chefs and farmers ranging from cooking with local invasive species to preparing meals with local produce easily purchased at the grocery store.  The kick-off demonstration, from Hawai`i Convention Center Chef Gary Matsumoto, showcased how to cook meals from a CSA – or community-supported agriculture – box.

Hawai`i Convention Center Chef Gary Matsumoto leads the kick-off cooking demonstration at the Hawai`i Agriculture Conference’s Pau Hana Reception at the HCC. Matsumoto showcased how to cook meals from a CSA – or community-supported agriculture – box.

“It’s a really important thing, cooking locally,” Hawai`i Convention Center Executive Chef Jacob Silver told KHON2’s Manolo Morales during a “Hawai`i’s Kitchen” morning show segment.  “It’s important everywhere, but especially in Hawai`i because we are so isolated here and it’s important to support our economy and get everyone on board with eating locally.  It’s always better to eat what’s near you and what’s fresh because it always tastes better.”

To best showcase the rich variety of foods available from Hawai`i’s farms, ranches, and waters, the Center created a multi-faceted luncheon menu that included pan-roasted tilapia raised in an aquaponics system in Waiawa; strawberries, lavender, and pickled onions from Maui; and brittle and oil from macadamia nuts grown on the Big Island.  The menu also included tomatoes, cucumbers, asparagus, mixed greens, and potatoes from farms throughout Oahu, as well as a red tomato crema and honey vanilla fromage blanc using cream from a North Shore Oahu dairy.

The menu did not come without challenges, including hand-making vinegar several months in advance for the pineapple citrus vinaigrette, and the lack of popular items such as flour, rice, black pepper, and shoyu.

Live segment #1: Chef Mark Noguchi

Live segment #2: Chef Mark Noguchi and Daniel Anthony

Live segment #3: Chef Jacob Silver

Live segment #4: Chef Jacob Silver

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