HCC to host 18th annual Hilo Culinary Classic

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Hawaii Community College will host the 18th Annual Hilo Culinary Classic on Friday, April 15 from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Manono campus cafeteria in Hilo.


Hawaii Community College will host the 18th Annual Hilo Culinary Classic on Friday, April 15 from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Manono campus cafeteria in Hilo.

Entries created by second-year Culinary Arts students from Hawaii CC will be on display, along with those of adventurous first-year student chefs. Graduates and professionals will square off in the guest competition.

The culinary displays will run the gamut from savory multi-course meals, inventive desserts, hors d’oeuvres, celebration cakes and edible art pieces.

The event will feature food to eat as well as food meant exclusively for viewing as first-year Hawaii CC students present a heavy pupu buffet. Foodies, families of student chefs, and all members of the public are invited to savor a tasty feast while enjoying the technical heights Hawaii CC culinary students have reached.

Tickets are $9.50 and are available at the Hawaii CC Cafeteria, Bamboo Hale and from the culinary students on campus. Tickets will also be available at the door. For more information, please contact Sandy Dubczak at 934-2559.

About the Culinary Arts Program

The Hilo Culinary Classic is the capstone project for culinary students and is the culmination of their studies. They begin the culinary program as first-year students learning basic cooking techniques, knife skills, and sanitation, and they practice those skills by running the Manono Campus cafeteria in Hilo, which is open to the public.

Students then advance to the on-campus restaurants, the ‘Ohana Corner Café and Bamboo Hale, where they spend their third and fourth semesters learning restaurant management, international cuisine, timing and advanced cooking techniques. Students also take field trips to farms, orchards, aquaculture operations and other producers where they learn about island products and create lasting bonds with the farmers.

Students in the Culinary Arts program located at Hawaii Community College – Pālamanui in Kona have the opportunity to learn in brand-new facilities since the campus opened in August 2015.

The Hawaii CC Culinary Arts Program is accredited by the American Culinary Federation. Students graduating from the program are hired at a higher standard throughout the United States.

About the Competition

Professor and Chef, Allan Okuda, said the competition format “really tests the knowledge and skills of our students.”

“It demands not only correct technical knowledge, but students must also execute these techniques perfectly,” Okuda said.

Okuda has set high standards for the show, which gives each student the opportunity to prepare their most elegant, innovative and technically challenging creations.

“The students are working very hard to showcase their talents in the culinary arts,” said Okuda. “To become successful, these students must sacrifice their time and their efforts.”

The students have the guidance of a growing instructional staff: Chef Instructors Brian Hirata, Karen Daniels, Shawn Sumiki, Sandy Dubczak, and Tori Hiro.


A team of accomplished chefs will judge the entries in accordance with American Culinary Federation rules. The captain of the team and returning judge, Jim O’Keefe, formerly of O’Keefe and Sons Bakery, will bring his years of knowledge and practice in the culinary realm to the table. Chef Casey Halpern, of the venerable Café Pesto and a long-time supporter of the Hawaii Community College Culinary Arts Program, is also on the panel. In addition, Chef Adrian Wagner, of the Hilo Bay Café, is a new judge, and he will bring new ideas and insights to the competition.

The student displays will be evaluated on presentation, nutritional balance, thematic balance, workmanship, practicality, creativity and composition. Awards will be presented during the public exposition.

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