Kauai food festival also sates the soul as a benefit for culinary arts students
Eat, drink, be merry and support culinary arts students at Poipu Food & Wine Festival.
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When she turned 20 on Oct. 5, a bakery-bought cake was not an option for Angela-Rhey rhey? Ventura. Instead, the Kauai Community College student marked her birthday with a lychee chiffon pie that she made herself.
It wasn’t a big deal.
“I’ve always loved to cook,” said Ventura, who will earn her associate in applied science degree in culinary arts in May. “My earliest memory of cooking something by myself is standing on a yellow stool at the stove when I was 6 to make a Spam, onion and tomato omelet for my mom. I wanted to do something nice for her that morning, but there was another incentive: I was hungry!”
Over the years, Ventura’s repertoire has expanded considerably. One of her specialties is shepherd’s pie made with leftover Thanksgiving turkey, sauteed veggies, gravy, mashed potatoes and cheese.
POIPU FOOD & WINE FESTIVAL
>> Where: Various locations, Poipu, Kauai
>> When: Nov. 7-10
>> Admission: Varies
>> Phone: (808) 742-7444
>> Email: email@example.com
>> Website: poipufoodandwinefestival.com
>> Notes: A set of 10 recipe cards highlighting Poipu chefs and their creations will be sold for $10 at all events.
The president of Kauai Community College’s Culinary Club earned a summer internship at the posh Kukui‘ula residential community under the direction of its executive chef, Ben Takahashi.
In 2016, the nonprofit Poipu Beach Foundation and the Poipu Beach Resort Association launched the Poipu Food & Wine Festival to support the college’s Culinary Arts Program. Its graduates are in high demand; they’re quickly hired by hotels and restaurants in Hawaii and on the mainland. One former student is working in New York at Eleven Madison Park, named the world’s best restaurant and the best restaurant in North America last year on theworlds50best.com.
“Poipu has been described as the ‘restaurant row’ of Kauai because of our high caliber of dining options,” said Jody Kono Kjeldsen, the resort associations’s executive director. “Some of Hawaii’s best-known chefs are operating popular eateries here, including Roy Yamaguchi and Peter Merriman, two of the 12 chefs who founded the pioneering Hawaii Regional Cuisine movement in 1991. We’re also pleased and proud to welcome promising newcomers like Chef Mark Ruiz, who was born and raised on Kauai. He opened Kiawe Roots at the Shops at Kukui‘ula with his wife, Tricia, in June.”
>> Market to Menu Culinary Challenge and Kauai Culinary Market
3:30 to 6 p.m., Nov. 7
Shops at Kukui‘ula. Local produce, spices, jams, cheeses and more to be sold at the market, and south shore chefs will compete in a cooking contest emceed by former Kauai resident Celeste Rogers, who won a Food Network “Chopped” competition earlier this year.
>> In the Kitchen
8 a.m. to 6:30 p.m., Nov. 8
Participate in hands-on cooking classes with seven Poipu chefs, including Mark Ruiz (Kiawe Roots), Clinton Nuyda (Eating House 1849) and Sheldon Sato (The Club at Kukui‘ula). Cost is $50 per class (book through the website), including a tasting and gift.
>> Flavors of Poipu
5:30 to 8:30 p.m., Nov. 9
Shops at Kukui‘ula. A pau-hana party with live music, local delicacies, beer and wine gardens and culinary and mixology demonstrations. Kauai Community College culinary students kick off the event with cooking demos using Kauai-grown ingredients. Admission is free; food and beverages sold.
>> Poipu Dine-Around
5:30 to 9 p.m., Nov. 10
Locations to be determined. At least 10 restaurants will participate in this new event; $5 from each prix-fixe meal will go support to the community college Culinary Arts Program.
This year’s Poipu Food & Wine Festival features four consecutive days of fun, interesting, educational events. According to Kjeldsen, the festival enables people to interact with local farmers, ranchers and food producers and encourages them to dine at restaurants that use Hawaii-sourced ingredients.
“The festival also connects growers and producers with other businesses that could use their products,” Kjeldsen said. “And it promotes Poipu resort’s fabulous chefs and restaurants to benefit a great cause.”
In its first two years, the event has contributed a total of $10,000 to the Culinary Arts Program, which, among other things, has helped fund new equipment, student scholarships and food-safety certification.
It’s a win-win situation for everyone. “Kamaaina love to find out about food trends and new restaurants,” Kjeldsen said. “Visitors want to eat where and what the locals eat. They crave authentic Hawaii experiences and want to immerse themselves in the community. The festival offers a way for them to do that while helping future culinary leaders get the quality education they need to be successful.”
Ventura is looking forward to entering the workforce full time next year. “Culinary arts is a happy career,” she said. “What I most enjoy about it is taking raw ingredients and combining their separate flavors into one amazing flavor. One day I’d like to have my own show on the Food Network and publish cookbooks with my original recipes.”