This past Saturday night saw the opening performance of Coolin’aire, a jazz musical that was created by KCC’s own Dean of Business, Legal and Technology, John Richards. The production was a work of 10 months and its venue was the Palikū theater at Windward Community College. After great preparation, Coolin’aire’s opening night showcased its unique conflation of jazz music and culinary arts.

In addition to those who attended the show, interim chancellor at KCC, Louise Pagotto, showed her support for Richards’ production since she was the first person who he confided in for this project. “I think what they presented tonight was something that nobody’s seen before. It had fantastic music and so much energy,” Pagotto said, “. . . It was just so much fun.”

The storyline revolves around the two main leads, the chef (Albert Maligmat) and the apprentice (Annamarie Love). In the musical, we see how their dynamic develops – from the resistant apprentice who refuses to let the chef constrict her love of chocolate, to their mutual appreciation of each other’s skills and passion of culinary.

The beginning of Coolin’aire demonstrated the early form of culinary, back in the caveman era where people simply hunted and gathered food. (Photo by Kayla Valera)

As a backdrop to the main story, Coolin’aire also featured a variety of talents that added to the overall experience, such as the complementary choreography carried out by WCC’s theater students, the on-stage cooking done by those in KCC’s culinary program, as well as the live jazz band that accompanied every song throughout the entire show. Within the ranks of the band was Richards himself, who lent his bass playing skills to his own production.

Throughout the musical, audience members were invited onto the stage to partake in the cuisine that was created by the culinary team, who played assisting cooks. Two audience members at a time were treated to this staged fine dining experience and were chosen at random. This type of audience participation kept the musical interactive and fun. Even at the end of the musical, there was a serving of desserts on the way out that acted as an extension of the apprentice character’s love of chocolate.

One of Chef David Brown’s most prominent chocolate desserts was his sculpture of a female cook playing a drum kit.(Photo by Kayla Valera)

David Brown, who is a pastry chef at KCC, had been a part of the crew that specialized in the distribution of chocolate-themed desserts following the final act. Brown disclosed that it took two weeks for him and his crew of graduated culinary students to produce the arrangement of confections for the opening night. One of the more prominent exhibits of Brown’s chocolatier works was his chocolate sculpture of a female chef playing a drumming kit with cooking utensils.

At its core, Coolin’aire is a love letter to culinary arts and the magic that it can bring to those who are truly passionate about it. Concluding the musical, Richards stepped forward to acknowledge the newest endeavors that are made in part of educational culinary programs such as the Lē’ahi Concept Kitchen as well as the new Culinary Institute of the Pacific.

A second performance of Coolin’aire has been announced to be set sometime in the Fall of 2017. For more information about Coolin’aire, visit the official website here.