James Beard Award-successful chef praises community faculty culinary education

People standing on stage smiling
Splendid Table podcast visitors, Robynne Maii center, then Francis Lam (with lei), Sheldon Simeon and Ed Kenney.

Star Hawaiʻi cooks, who are alumni of University of Hawaiʻi Community Faculties, extolled the virtues of growing up, mastering and cooking in Hawaiʻi on an episode of The Splendid Table—a countrywide culinary tradition and life style radio demonstrate and podcast.

Host Francis Lam interviewed cooks Robynne Maii, Sheldon Simeon and Ed Kenney for the duration of a reside taping at the Hawaiʻi Theatre in January.

James Beard Award winner

“Culinary education and learning belongs in community college”
—Robyn Maii
“God bless the neighborhood colleges!”
—Francis Lam

Maii, who won a 2022 James Beard Award, is the chef/owner of Fête restaurant in Chinatown and HeyDay in Waikīkī. She recalled how she made the decision to enroll in culinary school on the East Coast while she was a scholar finding out fashionable dance at Middlebury School in Vermont.

“I promptly realized how expensive it was, so I arrived household and went to [Kapiʻolani] CC,” Maii claimed.

She liked her culinary education and then she moved to New York with “a large chip” on her shoulder. At initially, Maii imagined all her coworkers who went to “fancy” culinary faculties understood far more than she did.

Group of smiling people
Maii (next from still left) with Waipahu superior faculty college students

“Literally it took like two several hours and I was like, ‘You fellas donʻt know a lot more than me, you guys just consider you know additional than me,’” Maii recalled. “I feel like I got a truly great lay of the land with culinary education and learning, and—not to be dogmatic—culinary education belongs in community university.”

In addition, the cooks who attended “fancy” culinary schools were being in debt, and she was not.

“God bless the local community faculties!” declared Lam.

Prime Chef finalist

Top rated Chef finalist Sheldon Simeon, who owns Tin Roof and Tiffany’s and on Maui, grew up on Hawaiʻi Island and attended culinary faculty at Leeward CC, ahead of graduating from UH Maui College.

“You know I under no circumstances imagined I was going to be a chef escalating up. It’s just that foods was often about me. Through culinary school—I attended Leeward in this article then concluded up in Maui—you start to feel, ‘What’s the chef that you want to develop into?’” Simeon said.

He recalled that Emeril Lagasse was “bamming it” on nationwide tv, whilst he was increasing up looking at Harry Kojima on Hari’s Kitchen and Chef Sam Choy in Hawaiʻi.

At initially Simeon thought he would have to mimic the meals of the “big cities,” but then came the invitation to compete on Top rated Chef.

Simeon claimed, “It was on Top rated Chef that I realized that I can cook the food of my upbringing and be proud about that, and be happy of how exceptional Hawaiʻi’s cuisine really is and all these different cultures that have affected it.”

Finding ‘cheffy’ with it

Kenney, chef proprietor of Mud Hen H2o, is a extensive-time leader in Hawaiʻi’s cafe scene. He begun out doing work in business serious estate enhancement, which he identified as “boring,” before his wife persuaded him to choose a vacation all over the globe, following which he enrolled in Kapiʻolani CC’s culinary plan.

Kenney reminisced about expanding up in Hawaiʻi and taking pleasure in ʻopihi (the Hawaiian limpet), raw crab and ʻinamona (a condiment produced from roasted candlenut and sea salt) at family events.

“We’ve been provided the job of staying variety of ‘cheffy’ with these Indigenous food items,” he mentioned.

One of the extended-time goods on Mud Hen Water’s menu is buttered ʻulu or breadfruit, a Hawaiian canoe crop that Kenney prepares with Chinese fermented black bean, bitter orange and cilantro.
He also resources new coconut for other dishes, which he claimed has elevated the restaurant’s meals to a different stage.

Lam stated, “Here’s to going again to the way points had been, sometimes.”

—By Kelli Abe Trifonovitch

People on stage smiling
Waipahu significant faculty learners and instructors with podcast guests