Street-dish recipes provide head start on annual event

Take your taste buds on a tantalizing adventure through the streets of India at the Hawaii Culinary Education Foundation’s annual benefit

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Chef Garg to prepare a lineup of Indian street fare

The four regions of India each have their own version of classic street foods, and within those regions the various states present their own variations, with individual cooks and families adding their own touches to the dishes, chef Vikram Garg said.

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Cooking Indian cuisine requires know-how about spices

In India, people eat four meals a day, said Vikram Garg, executive chef of the Halekulani, who was born and raised in India. “Breakfast is eaten early, lunch is served by noon and in the evening there’s a huge culture of going out and eating. Then there’s a late-night supper,” he said.All this chowing down has created a long tradition of street food, presented at open stands that offer one or two quick-prep items, ideal for snacking, a grab-and-go lunch for a busy businessman, or that late supper. These are the specialty of the cook, who’s often executing a family recipe passed down generationally, or after apprenticing with a master cook.Amazingly, “nothing is written down,” said Garg. “In fact, many of these cooks don’t read or write.”The chef is presenting some of those delicious morsels — from kebabs and chaat to vindaloo and uttapam (see the sidebar for descriptions) of various regions of India— at a benefit dinner Jan. 31 for the Hawaii Culinary Education Foundation. The grazing dinner, with separate food stations offering dishes, will reflect the concept of street food in India.Garg, 45, spent some 20 years creating gourmet food across the globe, in such locales as Dubai and the Caribbean as well as both coasts of the U.S., before arriving in Hawaii. Yet he is not formally trained in Indian cooking.“There is no school in the world that teaches Indian cuisine,” he said. After training to become a chef, “in Indian kitchens I cooked French cuisine.”In contrast, with no recipes to guide a student, learning to cook Indian food means paying close attention, with both eyes and taste buds. “You learn by technique and tasting. You watch and taste and taste,” said Garg.A steep level of knowledge of spices is required for the successful Indian cook, from quality and varieties of individual spices to blending them. This involves particular proportions and cooking temperatures to achieve specific scents, flavors and textures.“It’s like choosing a perfume and how it interacts with your body chemistry,” said the chef. “It’s about how the mixed spices interact with your palate.”The operative word here is balance.“There’s a misconception that Indian food is spicy. It is, sometimes, but it still must be balanced. The tongue should be able to taste each spice,” he said. “It’s not about the heat, but about the nose and the palate.” Read More >>

Hawaii Culinary Education Foundation Golf Tournament

Midweek article on 17th annual Charity Golf Tournament at Kapolei Golf Coursehosted by Hawaii Culinary Foundation.Read Midweek article here >>

Leilani’s on the Beach mentors Maui culinary students

Two first-year students of the Maui Culinary Academy were recently hosted by Leilani's on the Beach for two full days working closely with Executive Chef Ryan Luckey.Read More >>

Ladies vs Gents: Whose cuisine will reign supreme?

So MW Restaurant is putting together a benefit dinner with a male vs. female lineup of culinary superstars. Which is heart-stopping enough (I know who I’m putting my money on), but I wanted to know more.“It all started because Lee Anne wanted to do a girls dinner, so last month we did one with Les Dames d’Escoffiers,” MW’s Michelle Karr-Ueoka says. >> Read more here

Chefs visit schools to inspire culinary students

All eyes were glued to Ronnie Capitle's deft hands as he anchored paper-thin slices of beets on a toothpick, twirling it as he went along to create a vivid vegetable rose in less than a minute. The same can be done with other produce, he said, demonstrating next with slices of a yellow-fleshed sweet potato. Capitle's mesmerizing handiwork kept his audience glued to his every word, his work punctuating his message: Excellence takes dedication, practice and patience.Read more >>

Chef Jackie Lau at Kauai Culinary Class

Roy's Executive Chef Jackie Lau taught an HCEF Kauai culinary class for 40 students.  The motivational class focused on how to succeed in the culinary profession. In one of the student's words, "I learned how to be prepared for the culinary world." Chef Jackie demonstrated mascarpone and ricotta cheeses and created a flavorful roasted vegetable salad giving many students their first taste of roasted fennel, hearts of palm, and even beets.

Chef Cathy Whims, six-time James Beard Award nominee “Best Chef Northwest” at LCC

Chef Cathy Whims and Chef Linda Colwell with LCC culinary students Chef Cathy Whims, six-time James Beard Award nominee "Best Chef Northwest," taught two HCEF classes at Leeward Community College and Maui Culinary Academy for 111 students. Chef Whims was joined by Portland culinary educator Chef Linda Colwell in teaching Kauai Shrimp Ravioli in Brodo, a thoroughly modern dish, and Spaghetti alla Chitarra using a traditional chitarra (guitar) stringed wooden board to cut the pasta. Download or print a copy of the recipes by clicking on the link below: PastaRecipes (word doc)PastaRecipes (pdf file) 

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.