Supporting Future Culinary Professionals

By Tom Mullen, chairman, Hawaii Culinary Education Foundation

Hawaii Culinary Education Foundation, a nonprofit founded in 1998, trains and educates local culinary students by providing access to cutting-edge knowledge and techniques. The goal is to promote culinary education in Hawaii by collaborating with community college and high school culinary school programs. The foundation coordinates workshops that feature local and visiting chefs, bringing professionals directly to students. Program topics range from utilizing ahi, island beef and hogs, to developing a flavor palate and creating artisan bread and cakes.


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Tom Mullen

The foundation’s programming has reached more than 11,000 students and professional chefs since 2006. Written student comments about the programs include the following: “The program encouraged me to reach higher.” “Absolutely amazing.” “I was inspired to become a chef by attending this workshop.” “As a budding culinarian, I would have never thought it possible to work side by side with a talented chef, and your program made it possible.” “It was more than cooking – it was a life lesson.” “I learned about taste, palate and the importance of attitude.” “Very inspirational.”

The foundation’s approach to culinary programming and the professionals selected to present, train and educate have contributed to many culinary success stories. Island chefs including Roy Yamaguchi, Alan Wong, George Mavrothalassistis, Ronnie Nasuti, D.K. Kodama, Ed Kenney, Jon Matsubara, Hiroshi Fukui and Rodney Weddle are among the foundation’s roster of presenters. Mainland and international culinary experts are tapped, such as Boston pastry chef Joanne Chang and meat expert Bruce Aidells.

The foundation also hosts master classes designed to provide enhanced levels of expertise and knowledge to working chefs. These classes emphasize kitchen techniques, cost control, wine service and sauce preparation.

The Hawaii Culinary Education Foundation hosts a golf tournament April 22, sponsored by American Express and Young’s Market Company of Hawaii (YMCOH). The tournament, which is the foundation’s main fundraiser, is under the leadership of HCEF chairman Tom Mullen and executive vice president/GM of YMCOH Philana Bouvier. Hawaii’s leading chefs, educators, hospitality professionals, food and beverage distributors and vendors join together for a fun day of charity golf at Kapolei Golf Course. For more information or to make a donation to the foundation, visit or call 941-9088.

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