KCC Suits Up

Culinary team competes.

Photo: Meng-Ling Erik Kuo/Courtesy of KCC

Armed with two semesters’ worth of competition-cooking classes, pounds of kampachi and duck breast, and the confidence boost that comes with beating 36 teams in a regional competition, the student team from Kapiolani Community College is attempting to do what no other Hawaii team has done: win the national title of the American Culinary Federation’s Student Team Competition.

This month in Orlando, four of the best student teams from around the country will go head to head by preparing, plating and serving 96 plates in four hours. KCC’s four-course menu features locally grown food and produce, all prepared with a distinctively Island flair, from mirin-poached butterfish to a raspberry and chocolate pastry cream terrine with lilikoi and berry sauces.

It will cost KCC around $35,000 to send the team, its coaches and about two dozen pieces of luggage and cargo items to Florida for the competition, according to chef instructor and coach Frank Leake.

The funding, Leake says, has been the team’s biggest challenge.

“In this type of economy, it’s even more difficult,” he says.

Regardless of whether they win, these culinary art students will have gained something more: the kind of competitive, fast-paced training that makes them more marketable in the industry.

 The team is accepting donations: call 734-9570 or visit www.uhf.hawaii.edu/KapiolaniCC-ACFGoldTeam

UPDATE (07/27/09):  Instructor Frank Leake reports that the Kapiolani Community College’s Junior American Culinary Federation (ACF) competition team went on to win the national championship, becoming the first team from Hawaii to do so.