Archive for the ‘Culinary education’ Category

Localicious supports Hawaii ag

February 23rd, 2016
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PHOTOS BY NADINE KAM / nkam@staradvertiser.com

Teachers from August Ahrens Elementary School in Waipahu earned certificates for their participation in the Hawaii Agricultural Foundation's Veggie U educational program.

Some of Hawaii's top chefs gathered at Chef Zone on Monday for the launch of the 2016 "Localicious Hawaii" campaign that encourages diners to "Eat Local."

Chefs Roy Yamaguchi, Alan Wong, Vikram Garg, and Y. Hata & Co./Chef Zone's Matt Small cooked up dishes highlighting locally sourced ingredients that are the main attraction of the Localicious campaign, now in its third year.

For a month beginning March 1, participating restaurants will donate $1 for every Localicious dish ordered from their menus to the Hawaii Agricultural Foundation's Veggie U educational program supporting agricultural education in public schools. Restaurants that raise $500 are able to adopt a classroom, by offering a $500 garden kit.

The event recognized some of the teachers and restaurateurs involved in the program. This year, 148 restaurants statewide are participating in the monthlong campaign and 113 Hawaii public schools have received garden kits to foster the awareness of agriculture and food safety issues.

Denise Hayashi Yamaguchi, executive director of HAF, introduced Dean Okimoto of 'Nalo Farms, to speak in response to Andrew Gomes story in the Star-Advertiser that day, regarding a 101-page report from the state Department of Agriculture that shows where agricultural activity was lost over the last 35 years and where future crop opportunities might lie.

What’s glaring, he reported, "is the drop in the number of acres devoted to agriculture between 1980 and 2015: a decline of 200,000 acres of cropland and 340,000 acres of pastureland, representing drops of 57 percent and 31 percent, respectively."

During the event, guests enjoyed dishes featuring local ingredients such as Roy Yamaguchi's U-10 scallops with ume honey, blistered Kahuku corn and Maui onion pohole fern poke in a sauce of truffled mascarpone and tofu.

Even as sugar plantations close and food producers' costs rise, Okimoto said, food prices have not increased as much as other expenses such as utilities and "Louis Vuitton bags," a subject that hits home when he gets an earful from those very same luxury buyers when he raises the prices of his produce by 25 cents.

As a matter of complying with food safety issues, he said costs to the consumer will have to rise in the future and he said, "Without support, agriculture is not going to survive."

Speaking of the partnership between restaurants and farmers that has been taking place since the 1980s, and support of organizations such as the Hawai'i Food & Wine Festival, he said, "In Hawaii, everything we do should be together. The key for the future is these partnerships."

Putting young hands to work, Yamaguchi got an assist from, left, Hoku Hulihee, Cole Matsukawa and Remy Ah Quin.

As for Veggie U, chef Alan Wong told of being a fourth grade student at Wahiawa Elementary, and seeing the intermediate school band come to play for them. "When you're that age, you're impressionable," he said, so when it came time to choose classes in intermediate school, he chose band, and expressed the hope that by exposing youths to class gardens, the role of farmers and healthy foods, "maybe one becomes a future farmer," or at least understand and support agricultural endeavors.

Okimoto also said there's room for more dialog with the public. He said that although some people are happy to see big agriculture and plantations disappear, without them, there's "less infrastructure for everyone else to survive."

Plantation closures means that those in peripheral businesses, such as selling fertilizers, are unable to make a living, and as they go, smaller farmers may struggle to import the tools and materials they need at reasonable cost.

For the roster of restaurants participating in Localicious, visit localicioushawaii.com.

Other bites included:

Matt Small's sous vide rosemary skirt steak.

Vikram Garg's tamarind cured ahi in a pool of hearts of palm velouté.

Putting the finishing mint and basil touches on Alan Wong's Niihau lamb on house foccaccia.

Wong's finished mini sandwich.

Matt Small's dessert of orange blossom panna cotta with white ohi'a honey yuzu compound topped with candied orange peel and crystalized clover honey.

Detox Day 4: Succumbing to temptation

December 30th, 2013
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I look so happy with my first bite of food in four days. More importantly, my skin looks good from consuming so much liquified fruit and veggies. Candice Kraughto photo

Today is the day of brunch with visiting friends. I pick up blueberry scones, blueberry and almond danishes and some savory buns at Liliha Bakery before heading out to Cookspace.

The table is set with mostly carbs and sweets. The boys are making french toast and on the table are various breads, fruit-topped panna cotta, white chocolate bark with cranberries and nuts, macarons, and, looking very tempting, mini muffin pan frittatas. OMG! I have a lot of willpower when it comes to carbs and sweets. Other people always tell me how much they crave bread, pasta or chocolate, but I could live without any of that. Instead I find fatty, savory foods irresistible.

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My food vs. box of Liliha Bakery sweets and savories.

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Felled by mini frittatas.

Melanie Kosaka's frittatas are studded with mushrooms and bacon, two more favorite ingredients. I'm thinking, well,  if I can have a little to-go, they could keep two days, right?

We sit down to eat, 13 people with their plates. Me with my "Honey Badger" and "Very Verde." Today's Honey Badger seems to have more cayenne than the last one, so I'm wondering if the spice will upset my stomach without food in it. Meanwhile, everyone is exclaiming how good the frittatas are and asking for the recipe. I give in to the frittata. I think I could have put this off another two days if not for the distress of the cayenne.

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Yum, tako! I would have liked to eat a piece of this too.

They're telling me I'm a sadist or masochist by attempting a cleanse during the social season. I still think the timing has been good. I'm lucky to be sitting next to someone whose diet over the past eight months has been very restrictive. She eats a small tangerine and one piece of sake-marinated tako, also tempting. It smells so wonderful. She's a little freaked after drinking a bit of fruit smoothie that she learns has some cream in it because she's not supposed to have any dairy products.

The smoothie bar had been set up, partially, to accommodate the two of us.

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Some of the ingredients at the smoothie bar.

Realization 6: The act of trying to eat more healthfully  does have an impact on the people around you because it gets them to think about what they're eating, and consider what they could tolerate, drop or curtail in their own lives.

I start to think one little piece of frittata won't hurt me. What is one little piece of egg after more than 300 ounces of fruits and vegetables and 4,500 calories over the last three days.  A friend offers a piece of the frittata on her plate and I eat about 2 inches worth. I use the My Fitness Pal app to figure that's about 42 calories.

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Temptations abound.

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Cooking at Cookspace Hawaii.

I look so happy everyone takes my picture. It was worth every nibble. If this is the only bit of food I've had in four days, I think that's pretty good and reflects a healthful attitude toward food. I think anything is OK in moderation, and in the bigger picture, I'm starting to realize how much social and mindless eating adds up. I often eat things for the sake of the motor  pleasure, even when I know it's not going to be worth the calories. Now I know how much I can resist, and going forward want to focus only on what I really do want to eat.

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Fruit-topped panna cotta.

Because I had such a late start on my meals, at noon, or maybe that small bit of frittata was more filling than I thought, at midnight I realize I'm not really hungry and cannot finish all the drinks. I skip the Carotene Cure in favor of the almond milk. Maybe I'll have the Cure tomorrow morning, and carry over one drink on New Year's eve as a meal replacement to ease me back into the world of solid food.

Restaurant Week Hawai'i underway

November 21st, 2013
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Cream puffs and fruit tarts in the Kapiolani Community College Ka 'Ikena Laua'e fine dining restaurant, among the restaurants participating in the 6th annual Restaurant Week Hawai'i.Nadine Kam photos

During Restaurant Week Hawai'i, why not start at the source, Kapiolani Community College, which turns out many of the individuals who make our local culinary scene run?

The goal of Restaurant Week is to realize a vision of an advanced culinary campus—the KCC Culinary Institute of the Pacific at Diamond Head. Graduates of Hawaii's first four-year culinary program will go on to serve Hawaii's restaurant and hospitality industry and, ultimately, the greater community.

A portion of the proceeds from Restaurant Week Hawaii will support the KCC Culinary Institute of the Pacific at Diamond Head, so there was no doubt that Ka 'Ikena Laua'e would be among the 97 restaurants on four islands participating in the event that encourages diners to get out and patronize restaurants. In return, the restaurants offer discounts and specials to help defray the usual cost of dining out.

At Ka 'Ikena Laua'e, patrons who mention "Hawai'i Restaurant Week" before placing their order receive a 10 percent discount off lunch.

Alas, while the week ends Sunday, the school's dining room is only open through Fridays, so tomorrow is the last day to get this particular deal on a three-course meal (about $25 per person) that starts with a choice of vichyssoise or goat cheese tart, choice of five entrees, choice of dessert and beverages.

The students are doing a terrific job what is essentially a working laboratory that makes you feel as if you are in a commercial restaurant.

Here's the full list of Restaurant Week participants: www.restaurantweekhawaii.com

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Ka 'Ikena Laua'e is in the 'Ohelo Building, 2nd floor, 4303 Diamond Head Road, open from 11 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Mondays to Fridays during the school session, through Dec. 4. The reservation line 734-9499 is open 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

Here are a few of the dishes:

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The vichyssoise.

kccgoatGoat cheese tart with salad of lettuce and tomatoes.

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Fisherman’s Stew of fish, shrimp, lobster and clams stewed in a light saffron broth with leeks
potatoes and tomatoes, served with spicy rouille and garlic crostini.
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Life of Bread explored at Cookspace Hawaii

August 14th, 2013
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Chris Sy's breads included dark pumpernickel, clockwise from top right, country, city and semolina loaves, served with Plugra and Organic Valley cultured butters and white and red Kauai salt.Nadine Kam photos

Cook Space Hawaii was host to chef Lance Kosaka and Chris Sy for a combination demo/dinner exploring the life of bread. That is, how to enjoy bread as it runs its course from hot-out-of-the-oven fresh-baked form, to slightly stale to hard as rock state, the idea being that while in Asian cultures every grain of rice is considered precious, in bread-eating cultures diners would never dream of wasting a single crumb.

The event was part of the new demonstration space's summer cooking series "Get Fresh LIVE," demonstrating the alchemy that takes place when chefs and food producers are able to work together and inspire one another. The chefs are allowed to pick their collaborator. While other chefs in the series have chosen to partner with the farmers, Kosaka, executive chef of the Skybar, coming next spring, chose Breadshop's Sy, because he's found that most people don't know what to do with bread beyond making sandwiches or buttering it up as a pre-dinner ritual. Throughout Europe, bread is enjoyed throughout the meal.

Sy, who holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in English Literature from the University of Chicago, said he was inspired to start experimenting with baking bread after reading an essay on bread in "The Man Who Ate Everything," by Vogue magazine food critic Jeffrey Steingarten.

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Chris Sy with a loaf of his pumpernickel. He's worked in kitchens from the Chicago Area's Trio, to New York's Cru, Aux Vieux Four in France, and The French Laundry. He returned home and worked at Chef Mavro and Town before starting his craft bakery Breadshop.

Throughout the meal, I kept thinking about how my late husband would have loved every minute of this dinner.
His mother was from Belgium so he was raised in the Old World European tradition of setting the table with French loaves, cheeses, crêpes, leek quiches and savory stews. In all the time I knew him, he was never without the basic pleasures of the table, and life—a baguette, bottle of wine and cheese.

Sadly for him, until Sy came along, Oahu never had decent bread. Sy talked about the high temperature and moisture needed to achieve the combination of chewy, toothy interior and crackly crust. He uses a pizza oven and said that to produce such bread takes eight to 16 hours, a commitment most restaurants cannot afford, which is why we get lifeless generic table bread and why so many connoisseurs line up at the Pig & the Lady at Farmer's Markets for Sy's creations.

The last event in the Fresh LIVE series will take place 6 to 8 p.m. Aug. 23, featuring Wade Ueoka and Ho Farms. The cos is $85.

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The Cookspace Hawaii classroom is in Ward Warehouse, 1050 Ala Moana Blvd., above T&C. Call 808.695.2205. Visit www.cookspacehawaii.com for more classes and information.

Find Breadshop online at breadsbybreadshop.com

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Sy and chef Lance Kosaka work on the bread and tomato salad.

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Open-faced grilled cheese canapes start with grilled cheese of compté and gruyère over Sy's pumpernickel, topped with arugula and prosciutto for a tasty appetizer that's easy to duplicate the next time you entertain.

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Kosaka explained the Tuscan panzanella salad is no more than deconstructed bruschetta, with the a couple days-old bread softened by the blend of olive oil and tomato juices, and tossed with basil and Italian parsley. Sprinkle the tomatoes with salt and allow them to sit for a while to coax the juices out.

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Bread is broken into bite-size "crumbs" and stirred with pasta, anchovy, cauliflower, broccoli, olive oil, garlic, chili flake, mint and cheese in this pasta dish.

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Olive-oil pan-fried bread topped with Madre chocolate for dessert, with a light sprinkling of salt. So wonderful!

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Lance and Chris toss the pasta. In the foreground are some of the fresh greens that went into the meal.

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Guests were greeted with a choice of mango or calamansi coolers from Cheryl To of PacifiKool, known for its ginger libations.

Get fresh with garmers and chefs at Cookspace Hawaii

July 9th, 2013
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Nadine Kam photos
Sashimi covered with transparent petals of konbu and yuzu gelee, created by Vintage Cave Honolulu chef Chris Kajioka at Cookspace Hawaii on July 7.

Vintage Cave Honolulu chef Chris Kajioka and Big Island farmers Pam and Kurt Hirabara of Hirabara Farms were in the house at Cookspace Hawaii July 7, as part of the new demonstration space's summer cooking series "Get Fresh LIVE," demonstrating the alchemy that takes place when chefs and farmers get together to collaborate and inspire one another.

The exciting new space is the brainchild of longtime foodie and entrepreneur Melanie Kosaka, who's able to tap into a who's who of culinary expert who offer their time and talent to opening up meaningful discussions of food and food production, beyond the glut of superficial "look where I'm eating" social media postings.

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The appetizer dish, as at top, plated for individual diners, with kanpachi sashimi.

During the event, mixing cooking demonstrations, talk, tasting and dining, Kurt related that his attitude toward farming changed when he heard chef Alain Ducasse's belief that, "The chef is not the star, the produce is."

From that moment, Hirabara said he realized he had to step up his game, while saying that as a chef, Kajioka feels it's his job not to screw it up.

Pam said they could have planted their fields with tomatoes, but in choosing to work with a select group of chefs, have been willing to accommodate their requests and experiment with different crops, that sometimes works and sometimes doesn't, whether due to climate, soil conditions or the kinds of pests that they attract or repel.

The farmers admit to being a little stumped when Chris requested a conehead cabbage. Kurt said his response was, "You gotta be kidding me. Why grow the lowliest of vegetables, that we toss with kalua pig" because it's so down to earth?

Chris's rationale: "If cabbage isn't good when it goes in the pan, I can't do anything about it."

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Kurt Hirabara of Hirabara Farms plays around with the Caraflex, or "conehead" cabbage that was the produce star of the evening.

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Chef Chris Kajioka demonstrates the simple task of charring the sweet, tender cabbage.

As for serving up the humble ingredient in his high-end restaurant, my view is that anyone can slap meat on a plate and make it savory, but it takes skill to make vegetables sublime. So few in Hawaii are able to do this. The handful of times I have been at Vintage Cave, the cabbage dish has been my favorite.

What Kurt found in growing the Caraflex cabbage Chris sought, is that it contains less sulfur than other cruciferous vegetables, and it's leaves are more tender and sweeter than other cabbages.

Now, he grows the cabbage exclusively for Chris, meaning you and I can't buy it at the market, and competing chefs can't get it either. That doesn't mean he's above withholding some for his own cooking experiments, and when Chris found out, Kurt said he exclaimed, "You mean you're using MY cabbage?"

Of course, true to Chris's description, the cabbage is pointy, and Pam said that when their workers first saw them, they were horrified. "They thought they had done something wrong."

As for growing great vegetables in your little patch of urban Honolulu, good luck. The farmers said they've found the same rule for growing great wine grapes applies. Greens I grow in sunny Liliha tend to be bitter, and they said the greater the differential between day and night temperatures, the sweeter greens turn out to be, also developing a beautiful glossy sheen.

"The sad thing is, a lot of greens grow anywhere so people are fooled into thinking if it's growing, it must be OK," Pam said.

The next "Get Fresh" event takes place 6 to 8 p.m. July 27, with chef Colin Hazama, senior executive sous chef of the Sheraton Waikiki, and Lesley Hill of Waialea Agricultural Group. They will be showcasing Big Island kampachi, hearts of palm and spices. Cost: $85.

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From left, chef Chris Kajioka with Cookspace Hawaii's Melanie Kosaka, and Kurt and Pam Hirabara.

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Charred Hirabara Farms Caraflex cabbage topped with dill with anchovy bouillon.

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Beef cap with peppercorn, black garlic, spring onion and charred broccoli.

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The beef cap plated for individual diners on ceramic ware created by local ceramist Daven Hee. Also on the plate are slices of Hirabara Farms potatoes.

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