Cooking Up A 4H Project

Jo McGarry
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Wednesday - August 20, 2008
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Roy Yamaguchi, Dean Okimoto and Alan Wong with Verna Eguires, Wyatt Rita, Pomai Darlington and Miles Tidball
Roy Yamaguchi, Dean Okimoto and Alan Wong with Verna Eguires, Wyatt Rita, Pomai Darlington and Miles Tidball

At the annual State Farm Fair, one of the main attractions is the 4H livestock exhibit. Each year children from the program, which fosters an understanding of the disciplines involved in farming and animal husbandry, lead their animals to the fair and to the end of their ... relationship. The future farmers, aged from 8 to 18 years old, know from the beginning that they’re raising animals for slaughter.

“It’s OK with us,” says 16-year-old Keana Grover, a four-year veteran of the 4H program. “We know from the start that this is what is going to happen.” This year, however, instead of ending up on supermarket shelves, a couple of 4H lambs were sold to chefs Roy Yamaguchi and Alan Wong, who in turn decided to complete an agricultural circle and feed the lamb to the kids.

“Alan and Roy were the two chefs who answered our call at this year’s Farm Fair,” says Farm Bureau president Dean Okimoto, explaining that both chefs use the annual fair as an opportunity to purchase local livestock and support the 4H program. “As soon as they took delivery of the lambs this year, they called with this plan to make dinner for the kids.”

And that’s how a group of hungry youngsters found themselves around a picnic table at Roy Yamaguchi’s house Saturday night for a dinner that could have graced the cover of the summer barbecue issue of Bon Appetit.

For Alan Wong, the evening presented the opportunity for two of his favorite pastimes: educating young people and hanging with his friends. “It’s great to see the kids here,” he says, sipping a beer in the kitchen and stirring a pot of lamb stew. “So many kids think that their food comes from Foodland or Times, and the 4H program teaches them about the energy and discipline it takes to raise an animal.” Among the legs, racks and loins of lamb was Alan’s combination of pork, beans, chili and Portuguese soup all rolled into one. “It’s a kid-friendly dish,” he said with a grin.

For Yamaguchi, the evening couldn’t have been more fun. “I get to hang out with Alan for a day for a start,” he says. “But the best thing about something like this is that it’s for the kids.”

Roy marinated a couple of legs of lamb overnight Vietnamese-style (fish sauce, ginger, garlic, shoyu and sugar) and Mediterranean-style (olive oil, basil, bay leaf and onions), and then put them in his kamodo (smoker).

“I took the gas unit out of my kamodo,” he says, “and I used a combination of wood and charcoal. It gives the meats a smoked flavor as well as charring the outside.”

General consensus around the dinner table was that the dishes were outstanding.

And while Alan and Roy chatted with the kids about farming and the importance of local agriculture, guests enjoyed some of the best (and in some cases, first) lamb dishes of their lives. No one seemed at all disturbed to be eating their former charges.

With the resignation of a seasoned farmer, 8-year-old Pomai Darlington confessed through mouthfuls of lamb stew and Kahuku corn, “In a way, it’s kind of good, because now we don’t have to get up early and do the feeding anymore.”

Happy eating!


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