Culinary Students Cook For CrowdsJust as the sun comes up on Feb. 19, a line of cars stream into the Kaua’i Community College parking lots. The lots are nearly full and bulging with hungry folks queuing up for the American Culinary Federation’s 26th annual breakfast fundraiser.
“Eh, you smell dat?” A lady behind me asks her friend. “It’s makin’ me hungry.” We cross the damp sidewalk into a tent, and are handed small and large plates. Volunteers in crisp, white uniforms that bear Oahu’s Kapi’olani Culinary Arts logo serve fresh fruit, scrambled eggs, home fries, rice, two types of sausage and eggs Benedict. Auntie in front of me carries her plates in a cardboard flat. “Easier for carrying,” she says.
Two thousand people are expected this morning, and they won’t go thirsty. Kaua’i Coffee is serving bottomless cups, Meadow Gold has milk and juice, and Kaua’i Springs serves drinking water bottled from Kahili Mountain.
Seated at communal tables under a large canopy tent with scalloped edges, the quintessential voice of Israel Kamakawiwo’ole rings out. “Ua mau ke ea o ka ‘aina i ka pono o Hawai’i.” We tuck into sliced roast beef and omelettes made to order. A child rushes by with a plate of pancakes, families laugh and old friends gossip.
“It’s great for everybody!” says Lane Yokotake, a KCC employee who’s been coming to this event for 10 years. “It’s great for the students, it’s great for the public and tourists, too.” At $15 a ticket, the all-you-can-eat buffet is an enjoyable way to spend the morning.
Except for the culinary students who got here at 4:30 a.m.
“I couldn’t sleep last night,” says student Patricia Bishop. She expertly flips an omelette. “I kept waking up because I was dreaming about chopping bell peppers. That’s all I did yesterday!”
Students dispatch empty trays, and culinary instructor Duane Miyasato walks onto the grass clutching a large bag of donated pink hand towels. He downs a glass of orange juice and dashes back into the kitchen.
Chefs from the local ACF chapter work sideby-side with students in the quiet but bustling kitchen. Trays of English muffins topped with ham wait for poached eggs and hollandaise sauce.
“I’ve been volunteering for 10 years,” says Ron Miller, owner and executive chef of Hukilau Lanai. “It’s really rewarding to work with the students and see their bright, eager faces.”
Just outside the kitchen, assistant professor Martina Hilldorfer swiftly folds those pink hand towels.They are so fluffy, I get the impression they’re still warm from the dryer. “We get so much support from our island chefs, we can’t thank them enough,” she says and presses her hands along a just-folded towel.
“We call them up and we say we need, and it’s there. Towels are expensive. We call, ‘We need.’ they bring it. And nothing is out of the question.”
Kaua’i’s bustling hospitality industry provides opportunities for our kids to stay on the island. Proceeds from KCC’s events benefit students by rewarding scholarships, and supplies such as books and knives.
I write these stories to create awareness of the wonderful work KCC does to prepare the future chefs of Hawai’i. If you missed this event, you can still eat well while supporting the students.
Fine dining starts in two weeks. KCC culinary students will prepare Pacific Rim and Euro-Asian cuisine. Some of the dishes they prepared last year include Szechuan, Korean, Polynesian, French and Chinese.
One event you won’t want to miss is the 10th anniversary of the Spring Gourmet Gala April 13. For $125, volunteer students help 17 chefs prepare meals that are paired with wine. Vikram Garg of Waikiki’s Halekulani and local icon Alan Wong will headline the event. Ticket sales have yet to be announced.
Fine Dining: March 13-15, Pacific Rim Cuisine
March 20-22, Pacific Rim Cuisine
March 26-30, Spring Recess, Fine Dining closed
April 3-5, project menu by students
April 10-11, project menu by students
April 12, Fine Dining closed
April 17-19, project menu by students
April 24-26, project menu by students
For more information, call 245-8365.