By Lexus Yamashiro | Staff Writer

On Feb. 4, Team Hawai‘i from KCC’s culinary arts program competed in the American Culinary Federation’s (ACF) Western Regional competition in Joliet, Ill., and won gold with a score of 94.83 out of 100 points.

Lead instructor Chef Jason Peel with the support of Chefs David Brown and Alan Tsuchiyama and the team, comprised of five student chefs plus one alternate, are now headed to the Cook. Craft. Create. ACF National Convention & Show competition in Orlando from July 9-13.

The ACF holds competitions that KCC participates in every year. KCC is the only college in Hawai‘i that participated in this competition this year and in previous years, according to Chef Peel.

Sean Uyehara was one of the six student chefs who got to participate in the ACF Western Regional competition. (Photo by Lexus Yamashiro)

In preparation for the competition, students from the Culinary 207 class were selected to comprise Team Hawai‘i based on their attitude, skill level, flexibility, dedication, and more. As a result, student chefs Jeremy David, Richard Lee, Kimberly Lim, Qihao Tan, Sean Uyehara, and Christian Rae Wong were chosen to participate in the ACF state regional competition.

Uyehara is currently in his fifth year at KCC. He, along with his teammates, trained for the competition by practicing their skills through vegetable cuts, butchery of fish and chicken and more. Team Hawai‘i created a menu that included four courses that they worked with and prepared during the regionals.

“We practiced [for] it so much; there was a 90-minute span where we cooked whatever dishes we were going to make for the past two to three months,” Uyehara said.

When the time came to present their menu during the competition, Uyehara said that while he felt excited and nervous, he simply pushed all thoughts and emotions aside to focus on what he and his teammates would have to get done; he knew that the team had an end goal that they were all striving for.

Despite losing a few points due to finishing their courses over the 90-minute time limit, Team Hawai‘i managed to take the gold over 13  schools. Uyehara said that from this competition, he was able to walk away with lifelong friendships with his teammates.

Now preparing for the ACF’s National competition in Orlando, Uyehara said that he and his teammates are anxious and excited. Team Hawai‘i is creating a new menu for the final round.

“We want everyone to know that Hawai‘i is a state, and that we’re good at what we do,” Chef Peel said. “It’s very important … to showcase Hawai‘i as a … culinary destination [along with] the school.”