Kaua‘i Community College Culinary Arts Program Awarded Accreditation
6 people in a professional kitchen
Kauaʻi Community College culinary team from left, Karen Morita-Lee, Martina Hilldorfer, Duane Miyasato, Mark Oyama, Steven Nakata, Melanie Bacio

The American Culinary Federation Education Foundation Accrediting Commission has approved accreditation for Kauaʻi Community College’s culinary arts program to June 2022, the maximum accreditation period allowed. The award declares that the college’s culinary arts program has established standards, accountability and credibility, a high level of professionalism and up-to-date practices.

Annually, 17 to 22 students are accepted into the program, which enables them to earn an associates of arts degree. The accreditation status also allows currently enrolled students to be eligible to attain recognition as a certified culinarian or a certified pastry culinarian—a highly valued certification in the foodservice industry. “This certification means that the student has the skills and knowledge needed to begin a career without additional testing,” said Martina Hilldorfer, culinary arts program co-coordinator and chair of the accreditation process.

“Our faculty and staff are directly responsible for this award and have created a signature well-founded, well-rounded and impressive culinary arts program,” said Helen Cox, chancellor for Kauaʻi CC. “They assure that our students have the foundation to succeed in their field upon graduating and are much appreciated by our community.”

During the accreditation visit, the culinary arts program was commended for its “top quality” meals served as the “best luncheon ever experience at a site visit.”

During the accreditation visit, the culinary arts program was commended for its “top quality” meals served as the “best luncheon ever experience at a site visit.” Kauaʻi CC was also showcased by the accreditation commission at a July 2017 American Culinary Federation Education Foundation convention in Orlando, as an example for culinary schools in the nation to follow their work room of documents, supplementary documents and equipment created for the accreditation visit. The site visit team also noted that Kauaʻi CC culinary students were actively engaged in both lectures and labs.

The Kauaʻi CC team includes faculty Martina Hilldorfer, Steven Nakata, Mark Oyama, Duane Miyasato and staff members Melanie Bacio and Karen Morita-Lee. As a unified team, they worked closely over 18 months to prepare the submission of the March 2017 self study. Each faculty member took the lead on addressing two standard sections such as program eligibility, program mission and goals, organization and administration, faculty and staff, curriculum, facilities, student services, and program assessment.

Advisory Board members were also consulted. The members included Alex Amorin, lecturer; Debbie Akana, HFM Foods; Natural-Lee Garcia, general manager at Roy Yamaguchi’s Eating House 1849; Guy Higa, executive chef at the Kauaʻi Marriott Hotel and Resort; Adrian Marcelo, executive sous chef at the Westin Princeville Ocean Villas; Ron Miller, executive chef at the Hukilau Lānai; Krissi Miller, general manager at the Hukilau Lānai; Danny Morioka, executive chef at Dani’s Restaurant; Matt Smith, executive chef at the Grand Hyatt; Jacob Vogelsegang, food and beverage director for Sheraton Kauaʻi.

Michael McEvoy

“The business education division congratulates our culinary arts program on their successful re-accreditation award,” said Candace Tabuchi, division chair. “Our faculty’s dedication to their students, enthusiasm for their profession and service to our campus is inspiring.”

Second-year Kauaʻi CC culinary student Michael McEvoy wants to further his education at the Culinary Institute of America. He wants to travel to Italy and Japan to explore his cultural roots and learn more about how food is prepared. His expertise is in baking. A graduate of Island School, a private institution on the island, McEvoy heard from friends that “there’s always something valuable to learn at Kauaʻi CC.” He currently serves as president of the College Culinary Club.

—By Camilla Matsumoto