Archive for the ‘Education’ Category

Shep Gordon, Supermensch

By
October 6th, 2016



He still manages Alice Cooper, but Shep Gordon is otherwise retired and enjoying life on Maui, his home of the last 43 years.

Just out with a book, "They call me Supermensch," Gordon tonight talked about his life at an event that quickly outgrew its intended venue at CookSpace in Ward Warehouse. Instead, it was in a seating area next to the courtyard at the IBM building, and got started just after the evening's well-attended yoga class.

For those not versed in Yiddish, "mensch" means a person of integrity and honor.

Shep Gordon, manager to rock stars, movie stars and chefs, and a leader of the Hawaii Regional Cuisine movement, appeared at a book signing in Honolulu Thursday night. Photos by Erika Engle.

Shep Gordon, manager to rock stars, movie stars and chefs, and a leader of the Hawaii Regional Cuisine movement, appeared at a book signing in Honolulu Thursday night. Photos by Erika Engle.

The book represents "a backstage pass to the amazing worlds of film, food, and rock 'n roll," according to the cover, and yes, he's well-known in show-business circles. For Hawaii, though, he is likely best-renowned for helping to create and promote Hawaii Regional Cuisine (HRC) starting in 1991.

In the audience was chef Roger Dikon, one of the original 11 chefs of HRC, as well as chef and restaurateur Ed Kenney and Brandon Lam, an owner of La Tour Cafes, as well as recording artists Jack Johnson and Makana.

Denise Hayashi Yamaguchi, CEO of the Hawaii Food and Wine Festival and wife of HRC chef Roy Yamaguchi, introduced Gordon, as well as CookSpace Hawaii co-owner Melanie Kosaka, who led Gordon through a question-and-answer session.

CookSpace partner Melanie Kosaka led Gordon through a Q&A session before opening up questions to the audience.

CookSpace partner Melanie Kosaka led Gordon through a Q&A session before opening up questions to the audience.

It was a chef that saved his life, Gordon told the audience. He was at dinner with a bunch of movie stars and other noteworthy figures of the time, after winning an award at the Cannes Film Festival. He was young and "too successful," he said, indicating a proclivity for drug use back then, as well as the then-recent deaths of Jimi Hendrix and Janis Joplin, both of whom he'd known and with whom he had interacted. At that same dinner, when chef Roger Verge entered the room and Hollywood actor James Coburn leapt to his feet to hug him, Gordon thought of Verges, "this was the guy who was going to save my life," he said.Verge, who died last year at 85, told Gordon if he learned to cook, he could come work in his kitchen some time. Gordon took the classes, showed up at Verge's restaurant looking to cook with him, but instead traveled with him to Thailand. The journey made them fast friends and Verge, a leader in the nouvelle cuisine movement (along with Paul Bocuse and others), as well as Dean Fearing, a leader of the Southwestern cuisine movement in the U.S., came to Hawaii to help Hawaii's chefs lay the foundation of HRC.As for Gordon's decades-ago drug activities, he said it had been an awkward subject until friend and celebrity chef and TV personality Anthony Bourdain jokingly referred to Gordon's past activities as his pharmaceutical career, which got a hearty laugh from the audience. Gordon's book, published by HarperCollins, also is labeled "an Anthony Bourdain book." Bourdain has never been a client, Gordon said, but described Bourdain as a rock star, and it was clear the two are friends.Gordon also has cooked for the Dalai Lama more than once, along with a cadre of volunteer chefs and other team members. Even then-Kauai Mayor Joanne Yukimura volunteered to scrub pots and pans and wash dishes for his Hawaii visit, Gordon said, describing her as a short, hard-working woman whose daughter was taller than her, and saving her name until the end of the story as a punchline, not intended to be funny as much as surprising.Given his long and storied career, Gordon was asked about his passion, about what makes him get out of bed in the morning. "I don't have a record player, and I don't really watch movies," he said. The culinary world is what inspires him, he said, and to illustrate the point, he said he soon will be going to Italy for truffle-hunting.

Chef Roger Dikon, Shep Gordon, Jack Johnson and chef Ed Kenney gather for photos after Gordon's talk-story session.

Chef Roger Dikon, Shep Gordon, Jack Johnson and chef Ed Kenney gather for photos after Gordon's talk-story session.

Gordon and the HRC chefs launched a movement some 25 years ago …

http://www.staradvertiser.com/2011/02/27/business/from-a-small-fraternity-came-an-identifying-style/

… and some returned to the James Beard House in 2011 to blow away some mainland taste buds.

http://www.staradvertiser.com/2011/03/21/business/hawaii-regional-cuisine-pleases-palates-that-matter/

An alumnus of that Beard House dinner, chef Wade Ueoka, now owns and operates MW Restaurant with his wife Michelle Karr-Ueoka, and it was at MW that Gordon, the Dikons, the Johnsons and the Kenneys enjoyed a pre-event dinner.

Gordon's book is $25.99 and is available at bookstores and online.

Look for more insights into Gordon's thoughts about, and love for, Hawaii and its food, in next week's Crave.

 

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Artist captures spirit of Kona Coffee fest

By
June 8th, 2016



Kona artist Carol Tredway's image of a coffee picker at work will be the official image of the Kona Coffee Festival.

Kona artist Carol Tredway's image of a coffee picker at work will be the official image of the Kona Coffee Festival.

Each year the Kona Coffee Festival selects a work of art to represent the theme of the event. The 2016 theme, “Brewed with Tradition,” has been illustrated by Kona artist Carol Tredway with a representation of a coffee picker and Kona farm life. The piece will be featured on commemorative items and in the festival’s 2016 advertising campaign. Look for it in posters, buttons and other retail items.

The festival, in its 46th year, runs Nov. 5 to 13. The key event is a cupping competition that selects the region's top beans for the year. Other highlights:

Nov. 5: Holualoa Village Coffee & Art Stroll and Miss Kona Coffee Scholarship Pageant

Nov. 6: KTA Super Stores Kona Coffee Recipe Contest

Nov. 8: Council farm and mill tour

Nov. 10: Cupping competition 

Nov. 11: Lantern parade
Nov. 12: Ho‘olaule‘a

Nov. 13: Aloha Makahiki Concert with kumu hula Mika Keale-Goto and Halau Keale

For a complete list of events visit konacoffeefest.com

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Poke preserver still passionate

By
June 2nd, 2016



Chef Sam Choy sure knows how to work a room.

Chef Sam Choy prepares for a poke demonstration and a talk to culinary educators at ChefZone.

Chef Sam Choy prepares for a poke demonstration and a talk to culinary educators at ChefZone. Photo by Erika Engle.

Talking to a group of culinary educators from Hawaii high schools and community colleges, including some retirees who remain active, he had them in rapt attention as well as roll-laughing as he shared personal experiences and amusing stories to help them continue to keep their students — the next generation of Hawaii’s culinarians — inspired.

It didn’t hurt that there also would be pounds and pounds of expertly prepared poke, as well as numerous small plates prepared by Chef Jacqueline Lau assisted by her son Dustin.

Chef Jacqueline Lau and her son Justin prepare some small plates for presentation to members of the Hawaii Culinary Education Foundation at ChefZone. Photo by Erika Engle.

The gathering at ChefZone, staged by the Hawai‘i Culinary Education Foundation, was to give educators insights into Choy’s culinary journey, offer practical tips on minimizing food waste, see a demonstration of classic and contemporary poke dishes, and to watch the chef prepare a dish from a box of mystery ingredients.

Choy demonstrated a recipe which included only pre-contact ingredients, and he shared a recipe.

Before Captain Cook Poke

Ingredients:

1 lb fresh ahi, cut into 3/4-inch dice
1 teaspoon Hawaiian salt
3/4 cup limu kohu*
2 tablespoons inamona*
2 Hawaiian bird chilies, minced (optional)

Method:

In a bowl, mix ahi with salt and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
Add the rest of the ingredients and mix well.

Choy’s secret tip is to serve the poke very, very cold, paired with beer or a good wine.

* Choy says limu kohu and inamona can be purchased from Young’s Fish Market and Haili’s Hawaiian Foods.

Made with pre-Western-contact ingredients including Choy's favorite limu (kohu).

Made with pre-Western-contact ingredients including Choy's favorite limu (kohu). Photo by Erika Engle.

Choy insisted about being kept in the dark as far as the contents of his mystery basket. He wanted it to be the way it was when he appeared on “Chopped,” on Food Network.

When he opened the basket he found: fish sauce; cardamom pods; tomatoes, pre-packaged, fully cooked bone-in braised shortribs; cilantro, Guilin Style Chili Sauce (Lee Kum Kee brand); and Big Island macadamia nut honey.

He put the ribs into a hot skillet, tossed in some cilantro, added water, which he jokingly referred to as chicken stock; tasted the chili sauce and added just a little bit, perhaps a generous teaspoon; drizzled in some mac nut honey and squeezed in fresh lime juice followed by a generous splash of fish sauce. At some point he took a single cardamom pod, crushed and minced it, and added a portion of it to the sauce, then almost-surreptitiously tossed what remained on the knife blade over his shoulder, drawing a chuckle from the crowd. He cut the tomato into wedges and added some to the pan. After tasting the sauce he was building, he added more honey and more “chicken stock” (water, in this case), and then added the remaining tomato wedges to the pan, stirring as he went along. Choy took a one-pound block of butter from the refrigerator and cut off about a 3/4- to one-inch deep prism shape off the end of the block, cut it into smaller pieces, and added it to the pan sauce to enrich it.

The short ribs were placed atop scoops of rice on long rectangular plates, which each then got some tomato on one end, and a generous spoonful of the butter-enhanced pan sauce on the other end. Decadent was a word one might use to describe the fall-apart tender meat slathered with the pan sauce. That’s why he’s Chef Sam Choy, and we are but mere mortals.

The dish Chef Sam Choy made from a mystery basket.

The deliciously decadent dish Chef Sam Choy made from a mystery basket. Photo by Erika Engle.

After the demonstration and the noshing on two types of poke Choy made and Lau’s dishes including “Foil Chicken” comprising red chili chicken, charred lime and goat cheese; spicy shrimp remoulade with pickled vegetables on buttered toast; fried garlic noodles with sesame, green onion and basil, and sweet corn griddle cakes served with orange, onion and crisp bacon marmalade, participants heard a presentation from HCEF sponsor Hawai‘i Gas, and then it was time for the culinary teachers' sessions with professional chef mentors for program planning.

Chef Jackie Lau's "Foil Chicken," “comprising red chili chicken, charred lime and goat cheese.

Chef Jackie Lau's "Foil Chicken," “comprising red chili chicken, charred lime and goat cheese.

Chef Jackie Lau's spicy shrimp remoulade with pickled vegetables on buttered toast.

Chef Jackie Lau's spicy shrimp remoulade with pickled vegetables on buttered toast.

Fried garlic noodles with sesame, green onion and basil, by Chef Jackie Lau.

Fried garlic noodles with sesame, green onion and basil, by Chef Jackie Lau.

Sweet corn griddle cakes served with orange, onion and crisp bacon marmalade, by Chef Jackie Lau.

Sweet corn griddle cakes served with orange, onion and crisp bacon marmalade, by Chef Jackie Lau. Photos by Erika Engle.

More on Choy’s talk and his “new wave” poke will be in Wednesday’s Crave in the Honolulu Star-Advertiser.

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Food and wine fest features fish

By
May 25th, 2016



This opah, or moonfish, was presented at the United Fishing Agency auction. It is also known as Moonfish.

This opah, or moonfish, was presented at the United Fishing Agency auction.

Tuesday started early for Hawaii Food and Wine Festival participants who wanted to see Honolulu’s famed fish auction and visit Tamashiro Market to sample poke.
Chefs George Mavrothalassitis and Lee Anne Wong accompanied the tour and talked story with paid guests, answering questions along the way. They were to conduct a poke demonstration at the  Kahala Hotel & Resort, host hotel for the HF&WF Culinary Journey launch event.
John Kaneko of the nonprofit Hawaii Seafood Council led the United Fishing Agency fish auction tour, which started pier-side with an explanation of how commercial long-line fishing boat crews lay their lines while out on the ocean, with hooks at depths ranging from 50 meters to 350 meters.
With some 3,000 baited hooks, the percentage of fish caught each time the line is laid, is 1.1, he said. “Ninety-nine of 100 hooks are empty,” he said, so the boats are out for 11 to 14 days, and immediately process the fish and stow them below deck on ice.
Once inside United Fishing Agency, the auction was in full swing, with pallets of fish being wheeled in as Kaneko explained the differences between the grades of fish, the basics of what to look for when choosing fish at the market, and more.

John Kaneko, of the nonprofit Hawaii Seafood Council, explains the fresh fish grading process.

John Kaneko, of the nonprofit Hawaii Seafood Council, explains the fresh fish grading process.

The fish are laid side-by-side with a portion of the tail cut out, yielding a flat, or fileted cut and a “steak” cut, as well as a cored sample. The auctioneer barks out information about each fish, and fish buyers stake their claims before moving on to the next fish.
For those of us who are not experts, the differences between the big eye ahi flesh from fish to fish was stunning. Color and texture ranged from lusciously glistening and red, to lighter red with pinky, fatty tissue prized by many, to brown and dull, some with space between the muscle tissue. Kaneko described the latter as “gaping,” and said the brown flesh definitely would not be destined for use as sashimi.
Anything at the supermarket that is cherry red and “screaming at you” has likely been gassed with carbon monoxide to enhance the fish’s color, Kaneko said. The council offers fish auction tours via its website.

It was then on to Tamashiro Market, where owner Guy Tamashiro, a regular at the fish auction, is getting a new parking lot at his North King Street shop.
Tamashiro’s is known not just as one of the go-to stops for New Year’s ahi, but for selling reef fish and other seafoods popular with local residents, as well as produce including green papaya, marungay leaves, raw peanuts, and other items not readily found at many supermarkets.
Of the reef fish, Uhu is very popular, Tamashiro said.
They live in “harems,” Tamashiro explained, adding that if the male should die, a dominant female will transform into a male to keep the group going. Males are blue, and females are red, and while undergoing the gender change, the red female will begin to turn blue.
“I only learned that today,” said Mavro, though he loves cooking uhu, and says the female of the species has a superior flavor.

Tamashiro Market owner Guy Tamashiro pulled two uhu from the display, to show the gender-changing process the formerly female one in front had been undergoing. The blue fish immediately behind it, is male.

Tamashiro Market owner Guy Tamashiro pulled two uhu from the display, to show the gender-changing process the formerly female one in front had been undergoing. The blue fish immediately behind it, is male.

Posted in Eating Out, Education, Food, Home Cooking, Shopping | Comments Off on Food and wine fest features fish

It takes a village, and sometimes, a very cute baby

By
May 24th, 2016



Photo by Craig T. Kojima Aki "Frankie" Noguchi was the eternal sweetheart during a photo shoot last week at the beautiful Papahana Kuaola in Heeia. What better way to convey the virtues of kalo than a healthy, happy baby eating her kalo pop? We were able to indulge the modeling talent of Frankie thanks to the generosity of her mother, Amanda Corby Noguchi, who made the poi pops Frankie enjoyed and drove her daughter to the picturesque site.

Photo by Craig T. Kojima
Aki "Frankee" Noguchi was an eternal sweetheart during a photo shoot last week at the beautiful Papahana Kuaola in Heeia, for a food story on kalo. What better way to convey the virtues of kalo than with a healthy, happy baby eating her kalo pop? We were able to indulge the modeling talent of Frankee thanks to the generosity of her mother, Amanda Corby Noguchi, who made the poi pops Frankee enjoyed and took the time to drive her daughter to the picturesque site.

When feature writers produce a story, part of the deal is figuring out how to best illustrate what we're writing about. Sometimes we ask staff artists to create a drawing or graphic, but most of the time our photographers do the job.

Often, our plans require help outside the newsroom staff. As my friend Amanda Corby Noguchi says, "Sometimes it takes a village."

Case in point: For my story tomorrow on the many ways to cook kalo, Crave editor Betty Shimabukuro and I were pondering the best way to illustrate the topic. Much of the images in Crave are food shots — these are sure to draw interest — but kalo, while delicious, doesn't necessarily produce the most colorful dishes. What I knew I had were recipes for a banana bread using kalo flour and a kalo baby biscuit.

Now, Betty is gifted at thinking up great ideas on a whim.

"My dream shot is to have a baby eating a kalo biscuit while sitting under a tall kalo plant," she said, then laughed at the seeming outrageousness of her idea. Betty designs many of the pages for Crave.

Hmmmm. I didn't necessarily think it was pie-in-the-sky. There are kalo farms all over the place, with generous farmers always ready to lend a hand.

And I knew just the mommy to ask about lending us her baby.

Amanda runs and owns Pili Group with her husband, chef Mark Noguchi, and the couple produce the cutest babies — preschooler Elee (Eleanor) and 10-month-old Frankee (aka Aki), the baby I was thinking of.

Amanda, always helpful, was quick to say yes.

Also quick to lend a hand was Kapaliku Schirman of Papahana Kuaola, a gorgeous 63-acre site in Heeia that provides educational environmental programs using Hawaiian cultural knowledge. The site is rife with gorgeous loi and thriving kalo plants.

We were all set.

Then the kalo biscuit recipe fell through — and with it, our dream shot. Or so we thought.

"How about we use my poi smoothie pops instead?" Amanda suggested breezily in the midst of my freak-out. "I can whip some up and bring them to the shoot. Frankee LOVES them."

True to her mother's word, Frankee did love them. In fact, she went through three pops like nobody's business. All while being the cutest, sweetest, most agreeable baby I've ever met. She even smiled on cue.

Throughout the shoot, Kainoa Pestana of Papahana Kuaola helped us along, from picking just the right kalo, which Frankee sat under contently, to propping up leaves just so, while photographer Craig Kojima snapped away with his camera.

Needless to say, the shots were beautiful. Or as Betty said, they're some of the cutest shots in the history of food covers.

There's honestly no way to convey the deep gratitude I have for everyone who helped us pull this off, from superwoman Amanda and baby Frankee, whom I'm completely enamored of, to Kapaliku and Kainoa, both gracious and kind.

Please take a look at Crave tomorrow. When you pick it up, you'll fall for Frankee, too. (And don't forget to turn the page and read the story.)

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L'Ulu dinner a celebration

By
May 8th, 2016



Chef Lance Kosaka's Slow-Cooked Pork Belly with Ho Farms Vegetable Relish and Chili Lemon Sauce.

Slow-Cooked Pork Belly with Ho Farms Vegetable Relish and Chili Lemon Sauce by chef Lance Kosaka of Top of Waikiki.

More than 600 guests attended Saturday night's annual benefit for the Leeward Community College culinary program, L'Ulu, held in and around the school's instructional kitchens.

As always, the dinner celebrated connections between chefs and farmers, with displays of fresh produce set up next to cooking stations so that diners could sample products from local farms in raw form while tasting what a chef can do with them.

LCC students at work at their station inside the teaching kitchen.

LCC students Christine Atud, Maricel Campo and Cheen Shimao at work at their station inside the teaching kitchen.

 

Leeward culinary students assisted at each station and put out their own dish — a delicate smoked piece of butterfish with a salsa of pineapple and hearts of palm, created by chef-instructor Ian Riseley. Many guests called it the dish of the night.

Smoked Butterfish Luau wit Grilled Hawaiian Crown Pineapple & Hearts of Palm Salsa but Ian Riseley of the LCC restaurant The Pearl.

Smoked Butterfish Luau with Grilled Hawaiian Crown Pineapple & Hearts of Palm Salsa by Ian Riseley of LCC's The Pearl.

Dean Okimoto of Nalo Farms served a micro greens salad topped with pickled beets and a soy-yuzu vinaigrette and croutons made with fried paiai from Ai Manuahi Farms.

nalo

Local taro was pounded into paiai, then fried in cubes to make crunchy croutons.

Local taro was pounded into paiai, then fried in cubes to make crunchy croutons.

 

Other highlights from the night:

From Sansei Seafood Restaurant & Sushi Bar, Pan-Seared Small Kine Farms Mushrooms, Creamy Herbed Polenta, Arugula, Chicken Skin Cracklings and a Quail Egg.

From chef DK Kodama of Sansei Seafood Restaurant & Sushi Bar, Pan-Seared Small Kine Farms Mushrooms, Creamy Herbed Polenta, Arugula, Chicken Skin Cracklings and a Quail Egg.

From Pig and the Lady, chef Andrew Le's Laotian Fried Chicken with Pickled Chili, Kaffir Lime, Peanuts, Fried Shallots and Aromatic Sprouting Herbs.

From Pig and the Lady, chef Andrew Le's Laotian Fried Chicken with Pickled Chili, Kaffir Lime, Peanuts, Fried Shallots and Aromatic Sprouting Herbs.

 

And the prettiest dish, a dessert from chefs Jeff Wind and Ron Villoria that featured coconut and mango in many forms:

A custom chocolate wafer and edible flower topped the Coconut Tapioca Pudding with Mango, Mango Cremeux, Mango Pearls, Coconut Meringue and Coconut Powder from Aulani: A Disney Resort & Spa.

A custom chocolate wafer and edible flower topped the Coconut Tapioca Pudding with Mango, Mango Cremeux, Mango Pearls, Coconut Meringue and Coconut Powder from Aulani: A Disney Resort & Spa

 

 

 

 

Shave ice, l'dat

By
May 5th, 2016



Kauai students turn a spotlight on shave ice, from its humble original form to some of the latest modern versions, on tonight's episode of Hiki No, airing at 7:30 p.m. on PBS Hawaii.

Kauai students turn a spotlight on shave ice, from its humble original form to some of the latest modern versions, on tonight's episode of Hiki No, airing at 7:30 p.m. on PBS Hawaii.

When students of Kapaa High School's digital media class were faced with the task of creating something for Hiki No, the statewide student news network, they settled on profiling something "easy" — shave ice, the classic local snack of ice doused in colored syrup.

"But they found out it was NOT easy," said teacher Michelle Rundbaken.

Pesky stuff like a longstanding history didn't make for a simple assignment.

The result of Kapaa students' hard work hits the airwaves tonight at 7:30 p.m. on PBS Hawaii as part of the latest Hiki No episode. After tonight's broadcast, the episode will be posted on the station's website, PBSHawaii.org/hikino. It will repeat at noon May 7 and 3 p.m. May 8.

The shave-ice project in fact turned out to be so not-easy that, while most projects take one semester to finish, this one extended over to the next and was completed by a different set of students.

In the end, the youths profiled some of the latest incarnations of shave ice on Kauai, including all-natural versions free of artificial colors and topped with organic products. They also delved into a bit of shave-ice history.

The episode will also include an inspiring piece from Waianae Intermediate School chronicling its after-school activities director's weight-loss journey; Hongwanji Mission School's profile of a blind singer who dispels myths about what it's like to live without sight; Hana K-12 School's demonstration of making prints with backyard items; and Campbell High School's out-of-the-box techniques that tell the story of a young woman with cerebral palsy.

Hiki No comprises 86 public, private and charter schools across the state. Visit Facebook.com/hikinocando.

Posted in Education, Food | Comments Off on Shave ice, l'dat

Thinking big

By
May 1st, 2016



Campbell High School made an amazing plate of sous vide lamb chops with a broccoli garlic mashed potato and Ewa sweet onion merlot sauce. A charred broccoli and corn relish accompanied the chops.

Campbell High School made an amazing plate of sous vide lamb chops with a broccoli garlic mashed potato and Ewa sweet onion merlot sauce, at Aloun Farms' high-school culinary competition Saturday. A charred broccoli and corn relish accompanied the chops. Judge Keoni Chang said the lamb was cooked better than he's had at most restaurants. See more of the dishes, from eight public high schools, in Crave on Wednesday.

At Aloun Farms' 4th Annual Sweet Onion Culinary Competition Saturday at Kapolei High School, eight teams displayed just how evolved high-school culinary education has become. But competition dishes such as Sous Vide Lamb Chops with Aloun Farms Charred Broccoli and Corn Relish, Ewa Sweet Onion Merlot Butter Sauce and Aloun Farms Broccoli Garlic Mashed Potatoes are just the tip of the iceberg.

A chat with culinary teachers outside the competition kitchen, where they waited for their student teams, made me understand how such young cooks could pull off such sophisticated dishes. It's because the programs they belong to are doing amazing things.

At Moanalua, which was entering the Aloun contest for the first time, students cook in a certified kitchen, which allows them to feed lucky faculty. Instructor Lars Mitsuda, who looks so young I almost mistook him for a student, says his program is famous for its homemade breads and pastas.

I got the chance to try a small bite of their onion bread, which was included on the competition plate. It was amazing. (In fact, I thought Moanalua's use of Aloun onions — it, along with broccoli and corn, were three ingredients to be included in each dish — was one of the most creative applications.)

Pearl City's crisp mac nut- and panko-coated mahi mahi was buttery deliciousness, and it's sweet potato mash, which included apple banana for added flavor, was ingenious.

Pearl City's crisp mac nut- and panko-coated mahi mahi was buttery deliciousness, and it's sweet potato mash, which included apple banana for added flavor, was ingenious.

Pearl City culinary teacher Shawn Kimball, herself a trained culinarian, helps students create special menus to correlate with classes being taught on campus. If a history class is studying Greek history, for instance, her students research and develop a Greek menu that they serve to students. Kimball said that when her students developed a Japanese menu for a class, Japanese students translated it into kanji.

The culinary program at Kapolei, host school of the competition, has its hands in all sort of things. Jeffery Sampson, who with endless good humor is filling the enormous shoes left behind by retired teacher Cynthia Pratt, said two of his students are headed to San Diego in July to a Family Career and Community Leadership of America national competition, where they will present their version of a healthy cup noodle. Sophomore Joshua Danao and junior Kyle Villanueva created a product that offers more than 10 grams of fiber. (Look for a story on the duo in an upcoming issue of Crave.)

At Roosevelt, Gale Suzuki requires her students to develop a business plan for a restaurant, and at Radford, Jamie Kahalewai's students cook a special lunch meal on Fridays. Waipahu's Marauder Cafe has long been lauded, as has Elaine Matsuo, director of the culinary program there, where students have opportunities to participate in culinary events beyond the walls of the school.

Youthful Julie Morihara (she and Mitsuda could be classmates) leads students at Campbell, where they run not one, but two eateries: Saber Grill, a fast-food outfit that sells dollar menu items, and Saber Cafe, a fine-dining restaurant.

Nanakuli's team delivered mahi perfectly marinated in teriyaki sauce. The team went to great lengths to localize their plate, sparing no expense to include a local potatoes for its stuffed mashed potato accompaniment.

Nanakuli's team delivered mahi perfectly marinated in teriyaki sauce. The team went to great lengths to localize their plate, sparing no expense to include local potatoes for its stuffed mashed potato accompaniment. Vegetable confetti was dressed in an ono sesame vinaigrette.

But probably the highlight of my day was visiting with Carol West of Nanakuli High and Intermediate School. Forget about exotic cuisines: Her program opens up students to fresh food, and the idea of home cooking itself. We met last year when I was invited to watch her classes created a true farm-to-table meal using chicken that ag students had raised.

After two huge hugs, she told me she is anxiously awaiting the first-ever graduation of one of her students from Kapiolani Community College's culinary program. Her smile lit up the room when she said she would be in attendance to watch it all happen.

This brings me to my first thought as I pondered the day: Thank you, teachers.
When educators with vision are dedicated enough to create such terrific programs, they raise the bar sky high — and students deliver.

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Cooking up a big future

By
March 21st, 2016



PHOTO BY KAT WADE / SPECIAL TO THE HONOLULU STAR-ADVERTISER Pili Group's Kelley Pittman is headed to Boston where she will hone her craft, thanks to the James Beard Foundation's Women in Culinary Leadership intern program.

PHOTO BY KAT WADE / SPECIAL TO THE HONOLULU STAR-ADVERTISER
Pili Group's Kelley Pittman is headed to Boston where she will hone her craft, thanks to the James Beard Foundation's Women in Culinary Leadership intern program.

 

It was 4:13 p.m. and chef Mark Noguchi probably couldn't wait any longer. "Let me know when your article drops," said his text.

I've been working all day on a write-up about one of his Lunch Box cooks, Kelley Pittman, who found out today she was selected for an internship via the James Beard Foundation’s Women in Culinary Leadership program. He had been nearly bursting with pride this morning when I interviewed him for the article.

“With some people, you know immediately — they exude that energy that makes them stand out,” he said. "Kelley exhibits the ability to always push herself a little more, and she thinks about her actions. Fast cooks are a dime a dozen, but smart cooks are priceless. Plus, she has an empathy within her. You can't teach that."

Noguchi met Pittman in 2011, when Ma'o Organic Farms was celebrating its 10th anniversary. Pittman, a farmworker, assisted him in breaking down a 300-pound marlin — and she didn't want to stop working. Today, she brings that same work ethic to the Lunch Box kitchen, prompting Noguchi to urge her to apply for the internship.

“I didn’t really expect anything,” she said of her hopes when she filled out the application. “But I'm excited to move forward, explore, get off this rock.”

Pittman, 22, will do just that when she spends six months in Boston, working and learning from chef Matt Jennings of Townsman restaurant. She said she'll learn about working both the front and the back of the house.

She is filling one of 22 positions offered by 19 mentors. The program provides paid internships to help aspiring women chefs build leadership and management skills in the kitchen and in restaurant management and entrepreneurship.

COURTESY PILI GROUP Pittman, harvesting calamansi at Hirabara Farm, does it all. The cook was once was a farmworker at Ma‘o Organic Farms.

COURTESY PILI GROUP
Pittman, harvesting calamansi at Hirabara Farm, does it all. The cook was once was a farmworker at Ma‘o Organic Farms.

 

Pittman says cooking has been a lifelong passion, and at Lunch Box, her enthusiasm for her work shows. She's in charge of feeding the corporate offices, and she takes requests.

So what does she cook?

Her menu features items such as beef and luau stews and loco mocos for the local workers, kelaguen for folks hailing from Guam and salads for the “urbanized retro people.”

“What don’t I cook?” she quipped.

Pittman, who grew up in Waianae, says she’s had a lifelong passion for cooking. “It started with the Easy Bake, and being in the kitchen with Grandma. Working on the farm took me beyond just appreciating food, it helped me to know where it comes from — and that can benefit the way I cook.”

Pittman's attitude fits in well with Pili Group's — the company owned and run by Noguchi and his wife, Amanda, which oversees Lunch Box and other venues — corporate culture, which is: "You must be a good human being to be a good chef."

"If you look at Kelley's family, you can see why she is the way she is," said Noguchi. "If someone has a softball game, EVERYONE'S at the softball game. Kelley is very mature. She looks after her sisters; she's like the matriarch of the family.

"I think Kelley will get far. She's too young for us to see where her creativity will take her, but she will be instrumental to culinary in Hawaii. She will be inspiring to women in the field."

Read more about Pittman on Wednesday in the Honolulu Star-Advertiser food section.

Posted in Eating Out, Education, Farming, Food | Comments Off on Cooking up a big future

Raise a glass to function, beauty

By
March 20th, 2016



Georg Riedel, 10th-generation owner of Riedel crystal glassware, will host the Riedel Veritas Red Wine & Coca-Cola tasting seminar, a wine tasting and chocolate pairing, at the Halekulani on March 25.

Guests will try three varietals of red wine, Lindt white chocolates and Coca-Cola. The event will feature the company’s new grape varietal-specific glassware collection that’s designed to enhance the enjoyment of wine. Riedel is an industry expert in the importance of the glass to the wine experience.

The seminar runs 6 to 7:30 p.m. in the Halekulani Ballroom. Tickets are $95. The hotel is at 2199 Kalia Road. For more details and to reserve a seat, call 923-2311.

Posted in Education, Food | Comments Off on Raise a glass to function, beauty

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