food at the banquet

A Kapiʻolani Community College culinary class made up of female inmates at the Women’s Community Correctional Center (WCCC) in Kailua held their winter banquet celebration on December 6. The class is taught by Chef Lee Shinsato, and the banquet was the students’ midterm examination.

culinary students serving food

Students serving food at the winter banquet celebration.

The menu was created by students in the beginner class. Appetizers began with Albuquerque bean soup and rolled zucchini salad. That was followed by crostini with a choice of creamy pesto, curried chicken, crab salad, spinach artichoke or tomato basil, steamed ginger pork wonton with sesame sundried tomato relish, pan-seared chimichurri chicken breasts and roasted misoyaki swai.

In the program, women work their way through beginner, intermediate and advanced classes. Once all three levels are complete, students graduate from the culinary program with a certificate from Kapiʻolani CC and earn 14 credits on their University of Hawaiʻi transcripts.

“This culinary program gives the women real-life job skills, but it’s not just about that. It also teaches them teamwork, professionalism and self-esteem,” said WCCC Warden Eric Tanaka. “I am thankful to Chef Shinsato and Kapiʻolani Community College for bringing this program to WCCC a few years ago, and helping prepare these women for a positive career path once they leave.”

group shot of people smiling in a kitchen

Group shot of students and instructors in the culinary program.