HRA: Chefs of Tomorrow

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The 2009 Hawaii Restaurant Association’s (HRA) Hall of Fame Induction and Chefs of Aloha Dine Around event, held in September, does more than just honor the inductees. It also raises funds for the HRA scholarship program. Below, meet the hardworking students who received the scholarships—you’re sure to see their names at restaurants in the future.

One is a student in charge of Maui Community College’s Maui Culinary Academy’s line of high-end gourmet food products. Another works at Leeward Community College’s Uluwehi Cafe to help pay for his college expenses. A third, a straight-A culinary arts student at Hawaii Community College, is a single mother who juggles school, work and family.

Representing aspiring future chefs and food service professionals, these students are among the seven scholarship recipients of the 2009 Hawaii Restaurant Association (HRA) Scholarship Program, which provides up to $1,000 to each student who has demonstrated dedication and passion for the restaurant and food service industry.

“Hawai‘i has become a culinary training ground for some of the world’s top chefs,” says HRA Chairman Chris Colgate. Hawaii Regional Cuisine’s international appeal has encouraged “HRA’s commitment, through its scholarship program, to help our younger generations pursue their culinary dreams,” says Colgate, Oahu Regional Manager for Hula Grill Waikiki and Duke’s Waikiki.

Eligible students must be enrolled and majoring in a culinary arts curriculum from each of the six University of Hawaii system’s culinary programs: the Culinary Institute of the Pacific at Kapiolani Community College; and the Culinary Arts Programs at Leeward, Hilo Campus, West Hawaii Kona Satellite Campus, Kauai and Maui Community Colleges. Requiring academic performance and financial need as criteria, the scholarships are administered by the UH Foundation.

The 2009 scholarship recipients are:

Bernard Butay, Hawaii Community College/Hilo.

Butay is a straight-A student described as dedicated, extremely motivated and dependable. A cook for a senior meal program, he has also been a line cook at the Hilo Hawaiian Hotel and the International House of Pancakes.

Jonathon Ching, Leeward Community College.

An honor student who works at the college’s Uluwehi Café and in its culinary program’s garden, Ching has volunteered at the Leeward Scholarship Brunch, Guest Chef Dinners and Leeward Culinary Arts Gala.

Megan Gibo, Hawaii Community College/Hilo.

Gibo, a single mother and straight-A student, is a senior meal program kitchen aide and a student tutor.  Described as “any chef’s dream employee,” Gibo balances school, work and family.

Hang Ping (Candy) Lau, Kapiolani Community College.

Lau has earned Certificates of Completion in culinary arts and pastry arts. A volunteer in KCC culinary department’s participation in restaurant industry events and as server at its KaIkena Restaurant, Lau aspires to be a chef or restaurant manager in a five-star hotel.

Keith Pumaras, Kauai Community College.

Pumaras fell in love with cooking working at his aunt’s ribs-and-chicken restaurant and has worked two jobs to enroll in the Culinary Arts Program. With goals to work in Hawaii restaurants and travel the world to learn about different cuisines, Pumaras aspires one day to build his own restaurant in Hawaii.

Ally Shimamoto, Hawaii Community College/West HI.

Shimamoto was born and raised on the Big Island, and returned to West Oahu’s culinary program after a year in KCC’s culinary program. She is also learning about preparing and selling food at Target.

Scott Spring, Maui Community College.

Springs aspires to have a lifelong restaurant career on his native Valley Isle. A married father and a double major in food service and baking, Spring works on the Maui Culinary Arts’ gourmet food line and in MCA’s Paina food service facility. He is a founding member of the MCA Gourmet Travel Club, which raises travel funds to learn about cuisines from other regions.