After more than two years, students in the University of Hawaiʻi Maui College’s award-winning culinary arts program are enjoying cooking lunch for their college ʻohana and will soon serve the Maui community at large. After closing due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Pāʻina Food Court on campus will open to the public on March 23.
UH Maui College students, faculty and staff have already been able to enjoy lunch inside Pāʻina for the last couple of weeks.
“Being able to come into the food court on campus is all part of the Maui College experience. I love being able to see all the different food available here,” said student Maile Shinshiro. “I didn’t know that they have new and different menu items each week. Having lived in Japan, I am a huge fan of miso ramen, so that’s what I ordered (a couple of weeks ago). Everything so far has exceeded my expectations.”
Chef Instructor Gary Johnson teaches a class of second-year culinary students who have not been able to experience real customers.
“I’m excited for students to engage with patrons and the community again,” Johnson said. “They can feel what it’s like to work in the culinary industry given real-world situations like this. The students get a sense of pride and satisfaction being able to share their passion for food with our community. And having patrons coming back to the cafeteria completes the learning process and provides a great learning environment.”
The Pāʻina Building, where the food court is located, will be open 10 a.m.–1:30 p.m. and lunch will be served 11 a.m.–12:45 p.m. Monday–Thursday. Ordering must be done in-person. Both cash and credit cards are accepted.
Judith Velsinger, a lawyer from Germany who is studying at the college’s Maui Language Institute to improve her conversational English, said, “It’s so nice to come to the cafeteria and see people again. Things are starting to feel more normal, especially when I can enjoy eating with my friends. The food is excellent.”