Cutting Edge: Local culinary students students learn about fading ice art

August 28, 2013By Carolyn Lucas-Zenk West Hawaii Today clucas-zenk@westhawaiitoday.comEnthusiastic questions from 27 area culinary students and their teachers were occasionally muffled Wednesday by the roar of a chainsaw inside the Mauna Lani Bay Hotel & Bungalow’s banquet kitchen. Clifford Goto, one of the hotel’s cooks, captivated his audience with every cut, gouge and groove he made in a giant block of ice. Armed with tools, including razor-sharp chisels and a five-pronged fork, Goto transformed the ice into an angelfish swimming in front of seaweed. The ice carving class and hotel kitchen tour showcased a unique partnership that’s helping educate and inspire the next generation of chefs. Hawaii Culinary Education Foundation is a nonprofit providing culinary students statewide access to the best knowledge and exposure to cutting-edge techniques through a variety of programs with local, national and internationally known chefs and food experts. Every semester, on every island, the foundation provides financial and professional resources toward activities that enhance the scope of learning, said Hayley Matson-Mathes, the foundation’s executive director. The idea for Wednesday’s program came from Paul Heerlein, an assistant professor and Culinary Arts Program coordinator at the University of Hawaii Center at West Hawaii. He wanted to expose the students to another side of the culinary arts — one that turns the mundane necessity of keeping food cold into an art. He hoped the students would recognize the art’s worth, how they can make a good living doing it, and how learning the skill may give them an advantage when applying for jobs. Ice sculpting typically falls under the duties of garde manger. These chefs have a broad base of culinary skills, and are responsible for preparing and presenting food, usually cold items, in the most attractive and palatable manner, Heerlein said. The art of ice sculpting seems to be fading, Heerlein said. These elegant creations are no longer regular fixtures at brunches, seafood buffets, sushi bars, holiday parties and special occasions. Many hotels have cut back or stopped making ice sculptures because of the associated costs and lack of suppliers who can provide the proper kind of ice. The ice used Wednesday was specifically made for sculpting and the closest place to buy it was Ice Sculptures by Darren Ho on Maui. The foundation purchased two 100-pound ice blocks, which were transported via a Young Brothers Co. barge that had to stop on Oahu before coming to Hawaii Island. Direct Freight Service Hawaii in Kailua-Kona also provided assistance. It cost about $500 for the ice and transportation services, Matson-Mathes said. Such expenses make ice sculpting uneconomical to teach, especially if nearly 30 ice blocks are required. Nor does it seem practical since the college doesn’t have a large enough walk-in freezer to use for such an activity, Heerlein said. Still, it’s something he and fellow instructors Patti Kimball and Betty Saiki have an appreciation for. In addition to his culinary skills, Goto learned ice sculpting at Kapiolani Community College on Oahu. He was taught by the late Walter Schiess, a former chef and food service instructor at the college. Schiess was also a national and international gold medal winner for his ice carvings. A swan was the first thing Goto carved. It took him about five years and lots of practice to master the craft. Spending hours working on a piece that will eventually be a puddle doesn’t bother Goto, who said he likes that aspect because it means he’ll always have a new canvas. Tempering the ice before carving is required. Goto talked about the importance of making confident cuts, working quickly and letting the art be what it is. The latter includes reworking the design or accepting a modification when the unexpected occurs. Goto estimated he’s sculpted at least 80 to 100 ice blocks since learning the art more than 30 years ago. His creations typically sell for $200 to $500, depending on the size and design. Sculptors typically require an hour or more to carve a single block. Goto said he was naturally drawn to ice sculpting because he enjoys art and seems to have a flair for it. Mauna Lani Bay Hotel & Bungalows Executive Chef Clayton Arakawa agreed with his assessment, adding Goto is his go-to guy for anything artistic at the hotel, from ice sculptures to sushi. Wednesday’s program allowed the first- and second-year culinary students an opportunity to build connections with professional chefs in their community, which could later lead to jobs, internships or other learning opportunities. Arakawa shared lessons learned and how he got to where he is today. He spoke about his passion about giving back and helping cooks move up the ranks. He also offered helpful advice, talked about his favorite dishes and shared his love of history. Arakawa attended St. Louis High School in Honolulu before moving to and graduating from Northern Arizona University. There, he discovered his passion and curiosity for food, which led him to attend Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts in Portland, Ore. He’s worked at the Crazy Mountain Ranch in Montana, Sundance Resort, and Grand Wailea Resort on Maui. In Montana, he learn how to bake his own breads. At the Grand Wailea Resort, he was the banquet chef — a difficult position that often required fast thinking and acting, along with meeting challenges creatively. Arakawa came to the Mauna Lani Bay Hotel & Bungalows last year because he enjoys using the best and freshest locally grown ingredients, as well as working closely with local farmers and ranchers — both of which can be done on Hawaii Island. Throughout his talk, he encouraged the students to engage with their teachers and embrace every opportunity to learn from another chef.

Culinary Students Get Familiar with Fish

March 08, 2013 12:15 am  •  Dennis Fujimoto - The Garden Island  LIHU‘E — Culinary students had an opportunity to get an up-close experience with some unusual ingredients Thursday during the Hawai‘i Culinary Education Foundation presentation at the Kaua‘i Community College. Chef George Mavrothalassitis, chef and owner of Chef Mavro restaurant and winner of the James Beard Award, was joined by Brooks Takenaka of the United Fishing Agency in working with fresh fish at the KCC fine dining facility. “It’s very important to me that future Hawai‘i chefs appreciate the highest quality local ingredients,” Mavro said. “These workshops give advanced culinary students a chance to work with ingredients they may not encounter in school, such as whole lamb and whole fish.” Ahead of the actual culinary preparation, Takenaka took the students through an overview of the sustainable Hawai‘i fishing industry. He broke down an ahi, and Mavro prepared seared bigeye and spicy ahi as part of the Center-of-the-Plate-Workshops under the sponsorship of the Hawai‘i Culinary Education Foundation. Takenaka, with more than 30 years of professional experience in the Hawai‘i fishing and seafood industries, has been the assistant general manager of the Honolulu Fish Auction, which is operated by the United Fishing Agency. The fish auction plays a pivotal industry role in fishery operations and seafood safety, which affects its clients, mostly fishermen, and its customers, which are seafood buyers and consumers, according to the Hawai‘i Culinary Education Foundation. Visit for more information.

Food Science in the Professional Kitchen with Chef Jon Matsubara

A HCEF January class featuring Chef de Cuisine Jon Matsubara of AZURE, the fine dining venue at The Royal Hawaiian Hotel (A Luxury Collection Resort) was attended by 63 Leeward Community College students. Chef Matsubara demonstrated the "antigriddle" which instantly freezes to -30 degrees F creating frozen ice cream sandwiches, grapes, pancakes, and popsicles. He also prepared emulsifiers, thickeners, starch modifiers; enzymes/protein binders demonstrating ways to save food costs.  The visual techniques illustrated practical applications for the professional kitchen focusing on the ultimate guest dining experience. AZURE Sous Chef Shaymus Alwin, who studied Sous Vide under Chef Thomas Keller at the Culinary Institute of America Greystone, showed Sous Vide techniques used on fruits, vegetables and proteins. Chef Matsubara is a graduate with distinction from New York's  French Culinary Institute and has a Bachelor of Arts degree from University of Puget Sound, Tacoma, Washington.  He has worked in prestigious kitchens in New York and Honolulu before assuming the helm of AZURE.

Rose Levy Beranbaum

A HCEF December master class featuring Rose Levy Beranbaum, the most meticulous cook who has ever lived, was attended by 75 LCC and KCC culinary students, instructors and professional chefs at Leeward Community College. Rose demonstrated recipes from Rose's Heavenly Cakes including "Chocolate Passion Cake" and "Golden Lemon Cake." The program was interspersed with baking expertise and culinary wisdom. Rose's first book, The Cake Bible, was the 1989 winner of the IACP/Seagram Book of the Year and the NASFT Showcase Award for the cookbook that has contributed most to educating the consumer about specialty foods. A culinary best-seller, The Cake Bible was listed by the James Beard Foundation as one of the top 13 baking books on "the Essential Book List." Rose's Christmas Cookies, was the 1990 winner of the James Beard Best Book in the Dessert and Baking Category. The Pie and Pastry Bible, published in 1998, received many kudos including: Food & Wine Books "Best of the Best: The Best Recipes from the Best Cookbooks of the Year" and Coffee & Cuisine "Best Cookbook" award. Rose's comprehensive book, The Bread Bible, was the 2003 winner of the Gourmand World Cookbook Awards in the Best Bread Book Category. It was listed by Publisher's Weekly and Food & Wine as one of the top ten books of 2003, and by Fine Cooking as one of the top 12. MAHALO to...... • Rose's assistant Woody Wolston and local baker Hector Wong who provided culinary and equipment support • LCC Chefs Mike Scully and Don Maruyama and the Leeward Community College culinary arts program • Michael Mathes who assisted with program set up • The Halekulani Hotel for supporting the program