Ho’okipa 2009 at the Royal Hawaiian Hotel

Last Friday, my husband and I attended Ho’okipa, a fundraiser benefiting the Culinary Arts & Hospitality and Tourism programs at Kapi’olani Community College. This annual event was held at the Monarch Room and adjacent oceanfront lawn of the beautifully renovated Royal Hawaiian Hotel, and virtually everything was put on by the students themselves (of course, with a little help from the faculty and staff). Don’t be fooled though, the food and service are quite impressive, and just as good as any gourmet dine-around event. The theme for this event was “The Flavors of Our Islands”, seen in the use of local ingredients and inspiration drawn from the various cultures that make up Hawaii today.

I rushed over after work and sadly missed cocktail hour and much of the silent auction, but arrived just in time to find the hot food stations in full swing. Let me just tell you how much I love a heavy pupu reception. Small tasting portions of various delicious dishes? Now this is how I like to eat. An elegant sit-down dinner is nice, but I much prefer to  enjoy a little bit of a lot of things.

We first visited Chef Diane Nazaro’s (of Windward Community College) Introduction to Culinary Arts class station and picked up a few dishes before making our way to an empty cocktail table. First course: Baby Beef Bibimbap with sliced beef tenderloin and a quail egg on top.

101609 hookipa bibimbap

Kalua Pork in Taro Crepe with Ho Farms golden tomato salad, poha berry vinaigrette and crunchy pork chicharrones.

101609 taro crepe

Then a couple of friends joined us, adding the perfect complement to our meal, good company.

Next up was Chef Warren Uchida and his Asian Cuisine class students: Soy Sake Glazed Shichimi Spiced Butterfish with mushroom risotto, wasabi mustard sauce and chili oil.

101609 butterfish

Kauai Prawns in Bouchee with Big Island hearts of palm, Hamakua mushrooms, and a tarragon lobster brandy sauce.

101609 shrimp

Next we traveled over to Chef Alan Tsuchiyama’s Intermediate Cookery class station for some Chilled Dungeness Crab. This was my absolute favorite of the night because it was so refreshing and fun. There were so many little components on the plate and each was so interesting that I must list them all: sweet Ewa corn chutney, chili pepper water gelee, cold smoked grape tomato, Maui Surfing goat cheese, seared Hamakua Ali’i mushrooms with Ka’u oranges, yukari skillet popcorn, Hawaiian hearts of palm, garnished with Nalo Farms micro shiso and herb infused oil. This all added up to a party in my mouth! 

101609 crab

We also enjoyed a beautiful Sous Vide Duck Breast Big Island ohelo berries and Molokai sweet potato puree from Chef Eddie Fernandez’s Intermediate Cookery class station.

101609 duck

Then we washed that down with some beer… A blueberry lager called Wild Blue, and an “island style” Land Shark, which our friend said tasted just like a Corona.

101609 sharklager101609 bluelager

Next we enjoyed the creations of Chef Tony Liu, this year’s featured visiting chef. Risotto of Shrimp and Melon…

101609 risotto

… and Rotolo with Swiss chard and bechamel.

101609 rotolo

Then we ended our evening with desserts made by the pastry students of Chef Dan Wetter and Chef David Brown.

101609 dessert

What a delightful evening it was! My hats off to the culinary students and instructors who cooked all the food, as well as the students from the hospitality & tourism programs who acted as hostesses, servers, and silent auction attendees. It’s so wonderful to see the college organize such a perfect stage on which the students can apply and showcase their learned skills. KCC’s culinary program is obviously hugely successful, as is evident in their alumni directory that reads like a who’s who of celebrity chefs and restauranteurs in Hawaii and beyond. For those of you who are interested, KCC also has a fine dining room called Ka ‘Ikena where the food is prepared and served by students, which is fabulous as well.  You can find more info at food.kcc.hawaii.edu

2 Responses to “Ho’okipa 2009 at the Royal Hawaiian Hotel”

  1. 1 MCAT October 24, 2009 at 9:44 pm

    Looks like you were in Disneyland. Geez, being a pro, your vocabulary of gourmet foods is amazing, you have to teach me, Rotolo, swiss chard? Enjoyed your Maui postings too.

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