Festival Benefits LCC Culinary Arts

Hawaii Food & Wine Festival officials presented $210,000 to five nonprofit beneficiaries, including the Culinary Arts Program at Leeward Community College, during a special reception Feb. 4 at Kapiolani Community College. Present were (from left) Hawaii Agricultural Foundation president Dean Okimoto, Paepae o He'eia executive director Hi'ilei Kawelo, Papahana Kuaola's hanaola director Rick Barboza, festival co-chairs Alan Wong and Roy Yamaguchi, Leeward Community College chief academic officer Michael Pecsok and UH vice president of community colleges John Morton. Photo from Hawaii Food & Wine Festival.

The Culinary Arts Program at Leeward Community College recently was selected as one of five nonprofits to receive a donation from the Hawaii Food and Wine Festival chairmen, chefs Roy Yamaguchi and Alan Wong.

The check, totaling $210,000, was presented to all beneficiaries at a mahalo reception held Feb. 4 at the Ka ‘Ikena Restaurant at Kapiolani Community College. From that total, LCC received $30,000.

“As a result of the festival’s success the past two years, we’ve been able to fulfill the festival’s equally important mission of providing our beneficiaries funding to support their important food sustainability, cultural and educational efforts,” stated Yamaguchi, owner of Roy’s Restaurants.

During the festival, students from LCC were invited to work alongside industry professionals. After serving more than 4,000 visitors and residents who attended 15 events held at six venues on Oahu, the reception also served to thank all festival partners and participants.

“They got to meet and work with chefs and food professionals from around the world, use products and techniques they may not have been exposed to before, work in the hotel settings of Aulani and Ihilani, and experience what a world-class food and wine event looks and feels like,” shared Tommylynn Benavente, professor and program coordinator of the Culinary Arts Program at Leeward Community College.

This event wasn’t the students’ first time working in the kitchen with professionals; Yamaguchi and Wong sit on the advisory committee and participate in the program’s annual fundraiser.

“In addition to classroom instruction and real-world kitchen and dining room experiences we provide students with additional experiences through participation in a variety of community and industry events,” said Benavente.

Currently, the Culinary Arts Program has approximately 170 courses geared toward providing students with applicable knowledge and skills that can be used in the professional realm.

“Our faculty is committed to provide a fusion of hands-on experiences and theoretical instruction in an atmosphere reflective of our community’s diverse culinary heritage,” said Benavente of the program’s mission.

The monetary donation LCC received will be used toward furthering the program’s many educational ventures, including the purchasing of supplies and tools so that students may learn advanced cooking skills.

“Funds also will be used to support student assembly activities, expansion of the program garden, student scholarships, professional development and a culinary competitions course that is being developed,” added Benavente.

Culinary students’ work can be sampled at Leeward Community College’s fine dining restaurant, The Pearl, which serves lunch on Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.

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