The culinary arts students at Hawaiʻi Community College get to showcase their work at the end of every spring semester at the annual Hilo Culinary Classic.
It’s the final project for second year students before they graduate.
“They have to complete this segment of their training, which is buffet presentation, and after two years they can finally show their skills and talents that they learned here,” said Allan Okuda, the Hawaiʻi CC culinary arts program coordinator and professor.
The students can compete in teams or individually, and first year students and non-students are also welcome to participate.
Each entry is judged in accordance with American Culinary Federation rules, and receives either a gold, silver or bronze medal, or a certificate of completion.
An entry in the cold platter buffet category featuring an impressive variety of pâtés took the overall top prize in 2013.
“All those sleepless nights, we didn’t even sleep last night,” said Leizel Quiamas, a Hawaiʻi CC culinary student who was on that wining team. “It is a great feeling.”
Quiamas’s fellow student and teammate Jerome Manoag agreed.
“We have been waiting for this for a long time, practiced after school, doing everything, one by one, until the food show comes,” said Manoag. “It feels great to get an award like this.”
First year student Tori Hiro received a silver medal for her hyper-realistic fish burger cake.
“It’s different because usually people just think of cheeseburgers,” said Hori with a smile. “It was different and I went a different route. It’s like fish burger! You don’t see that all the time.”
The students take full advantage of the opportunity to be creative, knowing that their dishes will be on display for all to see. They also put together a buffet of appetizers for the hundreds of people who attend the Hilo Classic each year.
“At $9 a ticket,” said Okuda. “It is pretty hard to get an event with a beautiful show and some fine food for that price.”
The culinary program at Hawaiʻi College Community in Hilo has been around for more than 50 years, offers a two-year degree and has about 100 students in the program at any given time. The students learn more than just cooking.
“One thing that our instructors taught is that is the only competition you have in life is yourself,” said Hori.
“We are very proud of our history here and we try to support the community as best that we can so please come and patronize us at the college,” said Okuda. “Thank you.”