By Lexus Yamashiro | Staff Writer

Team Hawaiʻi of the KCC Culinary Arts program performed a live food demonstration in front of the Island Olive Oil Company (IOOC) located in Ward Village on Saturday, June 3, from 12 p.m. to 3 p.m. to fundraise money for their upcoming role in the Cook. Craft. Create. American Culinary Federation (ACF) National Convention & Show competition that will be held in Orlando, Fl. from July 9 to 13.

Shoppers who purchased products from IOOC or from any of the neighboring merchants such as Jams World or Red Pineapple helped to support the team, in which a portion of the proceeds would go to Team Hawaiʻi to create a large enough fund to cover transportation for the team and their equipment, hotel payments, and more.

The fried pork belly made by Team Hawaiʻi student chef Qihao (Sam) Tan pleased many shoppers who stopped by to have a sample. (Photo by Lexus Yamashiro)

Collaborating with IOOC for the first time by using a few of its products, Team Hawaiʻi’s lead instructor, Chef Jason Peel, along with student chefs Qihao (Sam) Tan, Christian Rae Wong, and Melanie Maier prepared two food samples for shoppers to taste, which consisted of the following:

  • Crispy pork belly with lilikoi and chili and jalapeño vinegar on an olive oil focaccia.
  • Lemon olive oil cake with a pistachio, orange and caramel ice cream with an olive oil tuile topped with a chocolate crumble.

Jason and Thelma Peck, a married couple visiting from New Zealand, stopped by to sample both of the student chef’s creations while also getting to learn more about their upcoming competition that is just a month away.

“The pork belly was amazing, [and we eat it] all the time,” Thelma said. ” … [The pork belly] was done very well; you could say that we’re pork belly connoisseur’s, and that was excellent.”

From this demonstration, Jason and Thelma were amazed at the creativity and skills that the student chefs were able to exhibit, believing that the team will do exceptionally well during the ACF national competition.

“The biggest thing that I hope that this will do is … let [everyone] know that we’re competing and what Kapiʻolani [Community College] is doing so that the community can get more involved,” Peel said. “It doesn’t have to be monetary, but just to see the team and … to support the team, and also, … [to have] people know about CIP [Culinary Institute of the Pacific].”

Team Hawaiʻi will be competing against five other colleges at the national level. Comprised of student chefs Sean Uyehara, Christian Rae Wong, Qihao (Sam) Tan, Jeremy David, Richard Lee, and Kimberly Lim, the team is still in the process of creating their menu, which should result in four dishes: a seafood course, salad, main entree, and dessert. All competing teams will have 90 minutes to cook and plate all four dishes from their menus and are required to make four plates per dish.

Wong explained that the team meets about three to five times a week to practice and test recipes. Knowing that this process will hold several trials and errors, Wong noted that it is the cultural diversity amongst the team and in Hawaiʻi that helps to develop stronger menu ideas and recipes. She said that typically they will follow a European cuisine styled menu, however, the team attempts to incorporate Asian influences along with other cultured foods to make their menu unique.

With the menu still developing, the student chefs of Team Hawaiʻi will continue to practice their culinary skills and plan to create a menu that incorporates European and Asian cuisine. In the meantime, Team Hawaiʻi is slowly preparing for how they will execute the task of creating an edible cold platter that must be comprised of the following ingredients: rabbit, corn, peas, habaneros, and red lentils. This will be carried out over a two day period, in which the team will have five hours to prepare and three hours to finish and plate.

After coming out successful from the ACF Western Regional competition with a score of 94.83 out of 100 points, Rae Wong said that she along with the rest of the team will be better prepared for the national competition.

“I really like that you never know what the outcome’s going to be, and you just have to be prepared to have all these unexpected things,” Wong said. “It’s much more than just thinking about what the menu is and how to cook it, it’s [about] what if something goes wrong and how do we fix it, and that’s something [Chef Peel] really instills in us.”