By Kayla Valera | Staff Writer

The Culinary Institute of the Pacific first broke ground September of last year- the date of  completion set to be by December 2016. Though as one can see by driving past the supposed location near Monsarrat Drive, the buildings won’t be finished by the end of this year.

“Now [construction] has been extended to January 19, 2017,” said Conrad Nonaka, the director of the CIP. “Because classes begin at the beginning of the semester, and we can’t move classes halfway, the anticipation is to have the building begin teaching in the Fall of 2017. So that’s next August. The students will be transferred from the culinary program (at KCC) to the new facility.”

The project has been in the works for 20 years though only came into fruition as of last year due to complications of committed funds. The state, through the legislature and governor, along with the floating revenue bonds, were the two sources that contributed the most ($10 million each) to fund the CIP endeavor. Other benefactors include the Conrad N. Hilton grant ($5 million), the U.S. Commerce EDA grant ($2.4 million), as well as some private cultivation donors ($3.6 million). Once the funds were secured for Phase 1 of the project, the CIP commenced with construction, which covers 7.8 acres of Diamond Head.

Laying out the entirety of the culinary facility, the institute will include two culinary labs (one Asian and one multifunction American/European lab), as well as one baking and one pastry lab. It also includes classrooms, a competition demo theater, faculty offices, and a signature restaurant.

Similar to the 220 Grille within KCC’s cafeteria, the signature restaurant will be a training ground for culinary students where they will apply their learning in a professional environment. Though the restaurant will be more of a signature restaurant where it will be open to the public and run like a normal business. Profit generated from the business will go toward the education program to further support culinary education.

“All I know is that it’s a new building,” said Malachi Akau, a second year culinary arts student at KCC.

Upon showing him the layout plan of the new institute Akau responded: “I just love it. Everything there looks fresh, all the equipment looks new. The dining room looks top class to me, even though my goal is to open up a simple cafe restaurant. That place looks amazing, I’d be excited to go there.”

The design of the competition demo kitchen (Illustration Courtesy of Ferraro Choi)

The design of the competition demo kitchen (Illustration Courtesy of Ferraro Choi)

Given this mammoth project, the CIP hopes that aspiring students from other University of Hawai‘i community colleges take advantage of this facility, not just those who already attend KCC. In order to enroll into the CIP, it’s advised that students first refer to the Culinary Institute of the Pacific website under the Degrees and Certificate Programs to see how certain degrees from a UH community college meet the requirements of the classes that are available at the institute.The CIP at Diamond Head provides short-term advanced professional courses. The certificate offered at the CIP will be an Advanced third year professional certificate, though that may only be achieved after receiving an associate degree from a UH community college or other accredited institution. 

 Registration will start at the same time as the fall registration for all UH campuses. 

An additional benefit that arises from the construction of the institution is that its parking facility will be open to all KCC students and faculty. After the completion of Phase 1, there will even be an upper-deck parking lot tiered around the mountain’s slope whose plans will be developed further in the next phases of the project.

While the Diamond Head CIP pilots this new initiative for UH culinary students, the goal is for each community college within the UH system to have their own institute and be named according to their corresponding college. But since such plans aren’t conclusive yet, the Diamond Head CIP will be referred to as the “University of Hawai‘i Culinary Institute of the Pacific” to avoid any confusion amongst students.

There will be a steering committee comprised of department chair coordinators from each of the seven community colleges that will represent the CIP Hawai‘i initiative overall. However, each community college’s respective chancellor will be in charge of his or her own CIP once it opens on each campus implements its own. Louise Pagotto, chancellor of KCC, will be in charge of the Diamond Head CIP.

“It’s going to be an analyst opportunity of learning, because of where the world is moving toward in culinary education and what we offer to the community to enjoy,” Nonaka said. “I really believe that it will be beneficial to the students, the future students, and professionals in the industry, to become better leaders.”

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