Chefs And Students Join Forces For Kapolei Cultural Feast
Note: This article was submitted by Pauline Sato, executive and program director of Malama Learning Center.
Who says Kapolei has no culture of cuisine? On Nov. 2, Calabash & Cooks, a fundraiser for the Malama Learning Center (MLC), clearly demonstrated that good food exemplifying the “melting pot” of Hawaii has a home in Kapolei.
More than 300 people attended the benefit on the grounds of Kapolei High School — a strong partner of MLC. Created as a means to raise funds and strengthen the links between farmers, chefs, and students, Calabash & Cooks accomplished all that and more.
Calabash & Cooks was thoughtfully named to mimic the idea of bringing many cooks, both seasoned and students alike, together to create a cultural feast for guests. Professional chefs worked alongside Kapolei High’s culinary students to create memorable dishes using locally sourced ingredients, or had cultural ties to the Islands.
It was a collaboration among staff, students, farms, chefs and MLC that culminated in a night of good company, good food, great entertainment — all to benefit MLC.
Emceed by KITV4’s Paula Akana, a Kapolei resident, Calabash & Cooks featured some of Hawaii’s finest chefs and their connections to their cultures and their co-producers. Celebrity Chef Lee Anne Wong ( Top Chef) served as the honorary chef chairwoman for the event along with co- chef chairman Mark “Gooch” Noguchi from Pili Group. Other participating chefs were Kealoha Domingo (Highway Inn @ Kakaako), Mark Kaahaaina (Kaahaaina Café), Ori Ann Li (Ori Ann Li’s Vegan Kitchen), Darryl Shinogi (Roy’s Ko Olina), Eddie Mafnas (Firehouse), Chris Okuhara (Miso & Ale), and Cynthia Pratt with her students from Hurricane Heat, Kapolei High’s culinary program.
Together, they provided sumptuous dishes (served on biodegradable materials) including: pulehu Papahana Kuaola ulu poke, ulu palasadas, pan-fried seafood cakes with MA‘O Sassy salad, Kimo’s pastele stew, sea asparagus and cucumber salad with mung bean long rice, seared misoyaki salmon, chicken kelaguen with red rice finadene, kulana vinha d’ahlo, and banana lumpia with vanilla ice cream. Delicious nonalcoholic drinks included Ono Pops Hawaiian soda, Morning Glass Coffee + Café iced coffee and MLC’s specialty organic lime and hibiscus drinks.
Cultural practitioners from Kaala Learning Center also demonstrated ku‘
i kalo (pounding taro) and lei making.
Kapolei High School’s involvement was integral to the success of this event. Not only did it provide facilities, but students from a variety of programs