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Conrad N. Hilton Foundation donates $5 million to new Culinary Institute of the Pacific at Diamond Head

University of Hawaiʻi
Margot Schrire, (808) 956-6774
Director of Communications
Posted: Aug 7, 2008

"The Hilton Foundation hopes that its grant will motivate others, particularly those from the hotel and restaurant sector, to contribute to Hawaiʻi‘s economic development by helping create an institution inspired by the state's unique cuisine and cultural heritage."
Edmund J. Cain, Vice President, Grants Programs
Conrad N. Hilton Foundation

HONOLULU— Plans for a new Culinary Institute of the Pacific at Diamond Head have taken a giant step forward with the announcement of a $5 million grant from the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation.

The world-class advanced culinary institute will be built on the former U.S. Army Fort Ruger Cannon Club site on the northern slope of the Diamond Head monument. The new facilities will occupy 40,000 square feet on 7.8 acres. The project will feature two laboratory buildings, a classroom building, an administrative and faculty office facility and a culinary amphitheater in addition to a world-class restaurant designed to serve the public as well as a training site for culinary students. The buildings will meet Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) standards for environmental sustainability. Plans call for the Culinary Institute of the Pacific at Diamond Head to welcome its first students in 2011-2012.

"Students will have access to affordable, world-class culinary training from top chef instructors from industry and internationally-renown guest chefs that will give them a competitive advantage in their field," said John Morton, UH vice president of community colleges. "The State of Hawaiʻi benefits from a pipeline of qualified, educated workers for the restaurant and hospitality industries, increased tourism spending and the impact on its global competitiveness."

Students at the advanced culinary institute will have the opportunity to earn a Bachelor of Applied Science with a Concentration in Culinary Management which will prepare them for leadership roles in the culinary and hospitality industries by focusing on writing, critical thinking and reasoning, information technology, management, business law and ethics. They may also obtain advanced professional certificates for training in Asian, Pacific and Hawaiian cuisine. Working professionals will be able to take short term, continuing education courses to sharpen their culinary and business skills.

The Bachelor of Applied Science degree is being granted by the University of Hawaiʻi — West Oʻahu (UHWO). This baccalaureate degree is an integration of three curricular strands: foundational courses in an Associate of Science degree in Culinary Arts, advanced culinary courses offered by Kapiʻolani Community College, and upper-division management and other related courses offered by UHWO. Kapiʻolani Community College students are eligible for dual-admission and dual-enrollment status as well as additional support services through the Mananawai agreement. "Over the past two decades, Asia-Pacific cuisine has come to be world-renowned for its captivating blend of flavors, colors and textures through the creations of master chefs such as Roy Yamaguchi and Alan Wong, founding members of the Hawaiʻi Regional Cuisine movement," said Morton. "This ability to capture the essence of Hawaiʻi has brought the Asia-Pacific cuisine to be a defining part of the Hawaiʻi experience, for visitors and residents alike. The University of Hawaiʻi will carry out our responsibility to develop the art and perpetuate the discipline of Asia-Pacific cuisine and contribute to our economic development with the establishment of the advanced culinary institute."

The master chefs agree. "The vision for the new Culinary Institute of the Pacific at Diamond Head is an exciting and dynamic project for me to be involved with," said Yamaguchi, a graduate of the Culinary Institute of America and one of the most recognized names in the culinary world today. "The new facility and curriculum will feature what is best about Hawaiʻi. It will allow local students to interact with international students to broaden their horizons and experience new and different ideas."

"We need an institution of higher learning to teach the kind of cooking that exists in Hawaiʻi today," added Wong, an alumnus of both Kapiʻolani Community College and the Greenbrier Apprenticeship Program.. "We need a curriculum whereby students understand the whys and the hows of our cross cultural cooking style; a place where the end product is about teaching, creativity and innovation; a school that brings out the best where East truly meets West in a culinary way; a venue to showcase Hawaiʻi — its food history and flavors, the soul to our local cuisine, no matter what label you put to it — to the rest of the world."

"I wish to thank the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation for their generosity," said Morton. "This gift will have a tremendous impact on our ability to build a world-class culinary program and facility here on the slopes of Diamond Head. I am particularly grateful to Noel Trainor, one of Hawaiʻi‘s foremost hoteliers, for recognizing the potential in this program and for his unconditional commitment in helping us secure this gift from the Hilton Foundation."

In addition to providing a first class educational experience for students and an economic boost for Hawaiʻi, the new advanced culinary facility offers additional benefits, notes University of Hawaiʻi Foundation president Donna Vuchinich. "The community will enjoy a new ʻgathering place‘ near Waikīkī that offers a unique dining experience and culinary training destination and the project will serve as the cornerstone of Diamond Head revitalization and recapture the romance of the former Cannon Club."

A preliminary estimate to build the Culinary Institute of the Pacific at Diamond Head is $32 million. About $8.1 million in private funding has been raised to date through the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation gift and additional commitments. Extending an invitation to our community to participate in a project that will have a transformative effect on our students and the future of our state, the UH Foundation will be able to use a portion of the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation gift to match future contributions to this project. For more information, please visit or call Mariko Miho at (808) 956-7983.

Established in 1944 by hotel entrepreneur, Conrad N. Hilton, the foundation remained relatively small until his death on January 3, 1979 when it was named the principal beneficiary of his estate. Offices are located in Los Angeles, California and Reno, Nevada. The Foundation, Fund and related entities have total assets of approximately $4.3 billion. Since inception, the Foundation and Fund have awarded nearly $800 million and distributed over $600 million for charitable projects throughout the world. Visit

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