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The next generation of local chefs got a special opportunity to hear from and engage with internationally prominent chefs, influencers and innovators at the Kapiʻolani Community College and Culinary Institute of the Pacific (CIP) student conference, Near and Far 2022: Cool Ideas and Hot Food in September.

Chef working with food
Chef Tu David Phu

More than 100 culinary students had the opportunity to ask questions and taste foods prepared by luminaries such as:

  • Tu David Phu—The filmmaker of the Emmy-nominated Bloodline and Top Chef contestant shared his food journey and the importance of knowing who you are and where you come from.
  • Eric Kim—The New York Times writer and author of Korean American: Food That Tastes Like Home discussed culture and identity.
  • Rich Shih and Jeremy Umansky—The coauthors of Koji Alchemy: Rediscovering the Magic of Mold-Based Fermentation (Soy Sauce, Miso, Sake, Mirin, Amazake, Charcuterie) shared their experiences and tastings of koji (a substance made by combining a cultivated mold with rice, soy or other foodstuffs, used to make fermented foods and drinks).

“I learned that even though you may just have food scraps, you can still make many, many dishes that can become something awesome like [Tu David Phu’s] summer roll,” said Kapiʻolani CC culinary student Phong Jr. Huynh.

You can become a chef from any experience and you don’t have to be from a place of privilege to become an amazing chef and inspire others.
—culinary student Senala Poe

This was day two of the conference and was held to benefit the next generation of culinary professionals at the UH Community Colleges.

Day one of the inaugural conference, hosted by Kapiʻolani CC and CIP, was held on September 21 at the Queen Kapiʻolani Hotel and was open to the public.

Kapiʻolani CC Culinary Arts Department Chair Grant Itomitsu said the goal is to involve all UH culinary programs in the student conference in the future.

“This is the first step in looking towards what we may be able to do to bring a culinary food summit, where we can bring educators from all around the world, bring all our students from across the state, meet for several days and have this different format in which we do education,” Itomitsu said.

Two people addressing a class
Jeremy Umansky and Rich Shih discuss koji

The student conference is already on its way to accomplishing something special in culinary education.

Kapiʻolani CC culinary student Senala Poe said, “You can become a chef from any experience and you don’t have to be from a place of privilege to become an amazing chef and inspire others.”

—By Kelli Abe Trifonovitch

Ikura topped summer roll bites with Chef Tu David Phu’s fish sauce
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