“Welcome! Let me know if you need any help,” a smile and ball cap says from behind the counter as I enter Waimea Butcher Shop located on the Mamalahoa Highway in Kamuela, (Waimea to locals) on the Big Island of Hawaii. Owner Chef Mills Stovall must have seen the look on my face taking in all the sites of the shop, like a kid in a candy store. A giant paniolo portrait by Valentino Quijano watching over me. I get the special chili bowl to start, a local favorite. I’ve been told you are never supposed to shop on an empty stomach.
It has taken years to develop a relationship with farmers and ranchers that I can trust but, for Stovall’s customers it takes a matter of minutes. “Ranchers come into the shop and get connected to the consumers and the consumer gets connected with the rancher.” Mills relays enthusiastically. Waimea Butcher Shop is more than just a place to purchase local ethically treated meats. It is a gathering place where you can find a deep-rooted sense of community – quite a feat for a business that has only been open since February 2017. Mills explains, “I want people to feel like they can come here, hang out, and learn something.”
Waimea Butcher Shop is the only nose to tail butcher on the island, specializing in local, sustainable, and ethically-raised meats and house made charcuterie. Chef Mills works with over 35 small farmers and ranchers across Hawai’i Island and employs a staff of 10. They only partner with farmers and ranchers who share in their respect for animals and all animals are 100% Big Island raised.
Waimea Butcher Shop is the only location that sells the certified humanely raised and harvested Hawaii Lowline Cattle. Lowline Cattle are pasture efficient compact cows raised on the lush fields of the Hamakua. Mills takes me to the back revealing a rack of 62-day dry aged Lowline Porterhouses. Hawaii Lowline Cattle Company is approved by the American Grassfed Association and Animal Welfare Approved meaning their cattle are raised humanely outdoors on pasture– exactly how cows should be.
As I make my selections Mills speaks of the ranchers who raised them, and offers suggestions on cooking techniques. Thick cut wild boar chops, sweet chili cilantro sausage, ground Lowline, Wagyu picanha... the list goes on. “If there’s a cut you don’t see in the case, let me know and we’ll cut it in the back,” Mills hints as if I need more prodding. The late afternoon rush comes in and suddenly a line forms behind me. Mills greats everyone while two employees scurry from the back room. I leave with my cooler full of local sustainable humanely treated meats, a little jar of pâté, and the knowledge from where it all came.
We’re lucky here in Hawaii, more and more ranchers are taking advantage of lush pasture lands to raise 100% grass fed beef and keeping them on island for consumers. The Hawaii Lowline Cattle Company ground beef I purchased is 80/20 making it perfect for hamburgers. To spice things up a bit I added a homemade coffee rub and topped it all off with a sunny-side-up local farm fresh egg. The taste was hands down, the BEST burger I’ve ever had. Eating local really does taste better.
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Waimea Butcher Shop is located at 64-1032 Mamalahoa Hwy Ste. 101, Waimea, HI 96743
1 hour from Hilo
25 minutes from Waikoloa Village
1 hour from Kailua-Kona International Airport