Elaine Matsuo, director of the Culinary Arts Academy at Waipahu High, can discuss at length the core training her students receive in math, history, artistry and real-world skills in kitchen equipment use and maintenance, budgeting and job interviewing.
If you visit the academy's lunchtime Marauder Cafe, however, most people will just tell you the program is delicious.
The Cafe, which is open to the public Tuesdays and Thursdays for lunch, serves a restaurant-quality feast with mini-biscuits, appetizer, soup, entree and dessert — all for $15. The menu and recipes are selected through a collaboration between academy students and instructors, and the ingredients are sourced locally whenever possible (they're the beneficiaries of produce donations from nearby Aloun Farms). Proceeds are funelled back into the program and pay for the students' lunches.
The meal service on a recent Thursday, delivered by waves of attentive students in white cooking cloaks, was an explosion of flavor and elicited groans of approval:
Starter: Lettuce-wrapped spring roll with garden fresh herbs and pickled vegetables
Soup: Curried zucchini
Entree: Sambal chicken skewers or Kona coffee-rubbed beef with chimmichurri, served with black bean and corn quinoa salad
Dessert: Lilikoi chiffon tart or white chocolate and raspberry mousse crunch bar
Underlying the professional and colorful cuisine is a rigorous program of three courses, organized under the Public & Human Services Core Pathway under the Department's Career and Technical Education program:
- Culinary I: Students run through a series of occupations related to the food industry, as well as develop a career portfolio to highlight skills learned for job interviews. Includes history of culinary arts, food safety and sanitation, labor laws, culinary math, fundamentals of cooking and baking, and recipe usage.
Culinary II: Advanced course that builds on curriculum from Culinary I with an emphasis on management and extra curricular activities (more on those, below).
- Baking & Pastry Arts: Builds on fundamentals of baking learned in Culinary I, with students learning how to create specialized baked goods and desserts.
The extracurricular activities set the Academy apart by exposing the students to myriad opportunities in the food industry, providing real-world experiences that apply to the culinary field and life. Thanks to the academy's partners (including First Hawaiian Bank, Aloun Farms, JW Marriott's Ihilani Resort & Spa, Hiroshi, Leeward Community College and others), students participate in dining events, holiday food displays, festivals
Want to sample the deliciousness yourself? You can make a reservation at Marauder Cafe by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org, or call 808-528-9458. Service on Tuesdays and Thursdays begins promptly at 11:30 a.m. and ends at 1 p.m. Off-campus visitors must arrange for a parking pass with the school's office.