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Lance Kosaka

Photo courtesy Top of Waikiki

Photo courtesy Top of Waikiki

Top of Waikiki always is looking to give back to the community.

The revolving restaurant partnered with Hawaii Agricultural Foundation (HAF) for the monthlong Localicious Hawaii to raise funds for the foundation’s Veggie U agricultural education program, which introduces students to the art of sustainable agriculture and the seed-to-planting-to-harvest experience.

Since 2007, HAF has been working to promote Hawaii’s agricultural and farming industries by supporting “critical needs and services of farmers” by better facilitating a relationship between farmers and the community.

During March, guests who purchased Top of Waikiki’s house salad were helping the cause, as $1 from the purchase went to Veggie U. In addition to supporting HAF, diners enjoyed a medley of locally grown produce ranging from MA‘O Farms Sassy Mix and radishes to Family Mix tomatoes and Japanese cucumbers from Ho Farms — all topped off with Top of Waikiki’s house-made pomegranate vinaigrette.

Top of Waikiki chose its house salad as the featured dish because it has the most local ingredients.

“It’s something fresh,” says Top of Waikiki executive chef Lance Kosaka. “It’s not something that’s processed. You’re eating it how it was grown. Growing up in Hawaii, we try to incorporate (local ingredients) where we can. Certain things are nostalgic.”

According to Kosaka, the restaurant always tries to purchase new ingredients from local farms, as well. Recently, he got creative and purple daikon made an appearance as a takuan medley.

He also has fond memories of eating fresh green beans as a child. “My mom would make them and serve it with egg salad,” he recalls. “That was one of my favorite things.”

That mentality spurs the restaurant to create good, wholesome food while supporting farmers and the local agriculture industry.

“If they don’t get support, they can’t do what they do,” he notes. “It’s also about showcasing the ingredients in their simplest form.”

Kosaka also is an advocate of staying connected with schools — whether it be community colleges, universities or high schools — and understands the role that nonprofit HAF plays in informing and supporting the next generation of chefs. Top of Waikiki employees even participate at various career days.

“It’s important to be part of the community and the next generation coming up, too,” he continues. “It’s important because I remember when I did my externship and what a great experience I had.”

There’s still time to eat for a cause. Visit topofwaikiki.com or call 923-3877 to make a reservation.