LIHU’E — They worked in silence.
About two dozen volunteers at The Salvation Army Lihue Corps on Hardy Street worked diligently to prepare the 55 turkeys for their annual community luncheon, which is today, Wednesday, Nov. 23, beginning at 10 a.m. at the Kaua’i War Memorial Convention Hall.
No one will be turned away.
According to Capt. Mitham Clement of The Salvation Army, the turkeys were contributed by leaders of community businesses and organizations and individuals, and prepared by chefs in the culinary department at the Kaua’i Marriott Resort & Beach Club earlier in the week.
Although Clement was not present on Tuesday afternoon, that did not stop the volunteers from trying to finish their work, pausing only briefly to mention that a similar scenario was taking place at the Hanapepe Corps in preparation for their luncheon today.
Work on the luncheon begins before sunrise at the Lihue Corps, as a tentative schedule called for the warming of food to start as early as 4:30 a.m., with the Kauai Economic Opportunity, Inc. crews packing lunches and meals for the homebound around 8 a.m.
The annual community luncheon begins at 10 a.m. for Lihu’e at the convention hall, and at the same time for West-siders at the Hanapepe Corps of The Salvation Army, located next to the Hanapepe Recreation Center.
According to Clement, The Salvation Army volunteers are preparing for over 1,000 lunches to be served in Lihu’e, with about 250 expected to be served in Hanapepe.
Due to the pre-luncheon activity, a sign clearly noted that the Kokua Kitchen was not in operation yesterday, and won’t be open tomorrow, Thursday, Nov. 24, Thanksgiving Day, but diners are welcome to join today’s luncheon.
“We have to make a special dessert for them,” Chef Martina Hilldorfer, the bakeshop instructor for the Kaua’i Community College Culinary Arts Program, said, while pulling out a tray of pumpkin pies from the battery of ovens in their dining facility on the Puhi campus.
“Three hundred pounds of flour, 100 pounds of sugar, 150 pounds of canned pumpkin. Those are hefty numbers,” Hilldorfer said while tallying the amounts used by her students to create the 560 pies that are available starting 8 a.m. today, Wednesday, Nov. 23, as a benefit for the KCC Culinary Arts Club.
Tickets were on sale earlier, and pickup times will be from 8 a.m. until 2 p.m. at the KCC dining room. Hilldorfer said they should have a few available for people who don’t have tickets, but people need to call the dining room before coming to avoid disappointment.
Students who worked on the project included those who made up most of the crew that, less than a week ago, were preparing a variety of Thanksgiving desserts on the AG 194 live telecast moderated by Dr. Jack Fujii, dean of agriculture at the University of Hawai’i at Hilo on the Big Island.
“We started at 8 a.m. Tuesday, and by 3 p.m., all that was left was to pull finished pies from the ovens and replace them with pies waiting to be cooked,” Crescencio “Bob” Lagazo, one of the students, said, while the majority of the students adjourned from the kitchen, leaving Hilldorfer to finish the task.
“These pies are all from scratch,” Hilldorfer explained of the basic apple- and pump-kin-pie offerings that she says college students and instructors have been doing forever. “But, everything goes to the culinary arts club, and the students are good.”
At Kauai Bakery & Cinnamon in Kukui Grove Center, pickups for pies were well underway Tuesday, but as one hole opened up, another boxed pie took its place.
Lei Nakayama said they had gotten extra space from the mall, and most of the items that are normally stored in the petite bakery were moved to the extra space.
That extra space was still not enough, as two large tables set up outside the bakery overflowed with boxes containing desserts made for Thanksgiving.
In addition to the individual and wholesale orders, Nakayama said they were hosting fund-raisers for both members of the Mokihana Aquatics Swim Club as well as the Waimea High School varsity bowling team.
Peter Rayno, making his way home from work at Chiefess Kamakahelei Middle School, had one of those tickets, and stopped to pick up a pie. “I just bought the ticket to help them out. I have another one on order for Thanksgiving,” he said.
Not all of the customers were walking out with pies, although they all shared the same smile with their arms bearing other items such as birthday cakes, and even sacks of malasadas.
Nakayama said they’ll probably pull some overnight shifts to accommodate all the orders they have to fill before 10 a.m. tomorrow, Thursday, Nov. 24, Thanksgiving Day.
Juggling between three bakers, Roland “Roly” Tacsiat, Domy Laguit, and Jackie Rualizo, and an oven that cranks out just 50 pies at a time, Nakayama said one baker will start at 9, while another can sleep. When one comes in, the other one can go home to try and sleep.
Her husband Dean Nakayama got some help from Ivan Hirahara, who flew in from O’ahu to help with the deliveries that were nonstop on Tuesday.
Despite the hectic schedule, limited space prohibited the Nakayamas from hiring extra help, and, faced with these shortcomings, still had a wide variety of desserts to select from, including custard, pumpkin/custard and apple pies, pumpkin crunch cake, and liliko’i-chiffon pies.
Although Lei Nakayama was unsure as to how many pies had been baked by Tuesday afternoon, Dean Nakayama stopped to calculate, estimating that they had gone through at least a thousand pies by 3 p.m., with that number expected to grow as the ovens worked nonstop through Thursday morning.
Lei Nakayama said that customers have until 10 a.m. Thanksgiving Day to pick up their orders, and following that, one of the workers said, “We’re going to party on the leftover pies.”
- Dennis Fujimoto, staff writer and photographer, may be reached at 245-3681 (ext. 253) or firstname.lastname@example.org