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Cooks and Calabash fundraiser for Malama Learning Center


Left: a basket of friend mempachi; right: beef Hekka

The first Calabash and Cooks fundraiser next week will gather a cross-section of chefs who make our culinary scene vibrant and diverse: The chefs include Lee Anne Wong, a former Top Chef contestant and now a Hawaii resident (she fell in love with a North Shore farmer); Mark Noguchi of Pili Group; Eddie Mafnas of Firehouse Food Truck, which serves plates from Guam and Texas; Chris Okuhara of the cheeky pop-up Miso and Ale; Darryl Shinogi of Roy's at Koolina; vegan chef Ori Ann Li; and Robert Domingo of the new Highway Inn in Kakaako.

The chefs will be serving food that reflect their culture, both inherited and adopted.

At a preview dinner for the event, Noguchi served versions of what he remembered eating growing up, things like a basket of fried mempachi with a pungent shoyu vinegar, the recipe copped from an uncle, minus the leaving it out to ferment in the fields; and a beef hekka with watercress and warabi (aka pohole or fiddlehead fern) and brightened with fresh ginger and chili.

The Kapolei High School culinary students who cooked at the preview event. (KHS' culinary program is new to me: its curriculum gives students a taste of the industry. Students enrolled in the classes range from those who want to pursue a culinary career, to those who are doing it as a hobby—one of the students cooking last night hopes to go into marine biology.)

Expect more of the same soulful food from Noguchi and the other chefs, who will show off their respective cultures at the Calabash and Cooks fundraiser for Malama Learning Center. The non-profit, situated in Kapolei High School, is a community venue, a hands-on classroom for environmental topics, a partner in the Hawaii Green Collar Institute, and generally works to gather the schools, community and businesses of West Oahu around principles of caring and conservation. It's a lot for a little center housed in a portable (there are plans to construct a more permanent space), but Malama Learning Center describes itself as small and mighty, a unique place located in the Second City, bordering resorts and rural communities.

Calabash & Cooks Fundraiser to benefit Malama Learning Center
Saturday, November 2, at Kapolei High School Plaza
$35 pre-sale/$20 keiki/$75 VIP, which gains you early access to the event and a special dish by Wong. Tickets at malamalearningcenter.org

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