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LCC Dinner Offers Local Ingredients

Culinary students in the Special Events Class at Leeward Community College are preparing to host a five-course dinner Nov. 9, Earth-to-Plate, showcasing local food at on-campus restaurant The Pearl. Last week, Chuck Furuya (back, second from left) and Dan Nakasone (center) visited the students to discuss local food systems. Pictured are (back, from left) Joshua Kainoa, Princess Ramos and Marceau McPherson; (front) Mailyn Hayashi, chef instructor Linda Yamada, Tishanie Koyanagi and Tatiana Papalii. Photo from Tishanie Koyanagi.

Local food advocate Dan Nakasone and wine sommelier Chuck Furuya visited culinary arts students in the Special Events class Oct. 17 at Leeward Community College to discuss the challenges that the state faces in utilizing local ingredients.

They talked with the class about recent farm closures and the high volume of food that Hawaii imports annually – and what these future chefs can do to help correct these problems.

Student Tishanie Koyanagi said that the discussion reflected what she and her classmates have been learning throughout their coursework in LCC’s culinary program. These students will showcase their knowledge about local food systems – along with their culinary skills- at their Earth-to-Plate dinner 6 p.m. Nov. 9 at The Pearl restaurant on LCC’s Pearl City campus.

“Our program and our chef instructors really instill the concept of farm-fresh ingredients,” says Koyanagi. From day one, she said, the students have been learning about the importance of utilizing local food.

“They really try to instill the values of buying local and supporting local farmers.”

Koyanagi explains that this Special Events class is “pretty much the end of the road” – she and her five classmates are set to graduate soon.

While the class is regularly offered at LCC, it typically showcases a notable local chef. But under chef instructor Linda Yamada, Koyanagi’s class is taking it in a different direction, highlighting local food instead.

From setting the budget to planning the menu to creating marketing initiatives, the students have done it all. In addition to learning about local foods, the class also has discussed ways to be environmentally responsible event planners by minimizing resources, and using sustainable products when possible.

Last Friday, each of them visited a different farm to work alongside the farmers and help cultivate crops or tend to livestock. Each of the students learned about the farm’s operation and worked hands-on with the ingredients that they will be using in their dish.

The dinner starts off with an appetizer, Scotch Egg with Spicy Slaw, prepared by Joshua Kainoa. It features boiled eggs from Peterson Farms that are wrapped in a ground pork sausage and deep-fried.

Next up is a soup and salad entree prepared by Mailyn Hayashi that features a skewer of three different kinds of tomatoes with mozzarella. The tomato trio comes from Ho Farms, and the cheese is from Naked Cow Dairy.

The dinner features two demi entrees to provide guests with a taste of each. The first, prepared by Marceau McPherson, is Pan Roasted Shutome with Tarragon Sauce, Lentil Walnut Salad and Wilted Bitter Greens. The shutome is provided by the United Fishing Agency. The second entree, prepared by Tatiana Papalii, is Cider Brined Shinsato Farm Pork Loin on a Yukon Gold Mash.

The dessert – which is Koyanagi’s dish – is the Hawaiian Tropical Symphony that utilizes ingredients from Kahuku Farms. It features apple banana bread with Lilikoi sorbet, and a mango ginger brulee and vanilla bean crème.

Wine pairings and local coffee also will be served.

As the students serve each course, they will explain to guests the background of the dish – where it came from and what they had to do to gather the ingredients.

Koyanagi, who ultimately hopes to open her own restaurant, feels that a heavy dependence on imported foods is detrimental to the environment, as well as to the future of the local food industry.

Featuring local food, the Earth-to-Plate dinner allows diners to “imagine the possibilities of what we can do” with local products, Koyanagi said.

“If we shut out our local farmers, what are we going to do when those ships stop coming?” she said. “What food are we going to have? If it ever came down to it where we weren’t getting the imported goods, these farmers are the people who we are going to need to rely on.”

Tickets cost $70 without wine and $85 with. For details or to make reservations, call 455-0298.