Students taste reality

PUHI — To lemon, or not to lemon, was just one of the questions facing Kaua’i Community College students on Wednesday.

The second-year, culinary-arts students at KCC were in charge of the front of the house for the opening day of the college’s popular fine-dining program, and as such had to address this and other potential questions that diners would ask.

“Today’s lunch is sold out,” KCC instructor Billy Gibson said while reviewing the list of diners that would fill the dining room starting at 11:30 a.m. “The first day is almost always sold out, but the second day is soft.”

Gibson noted that almost half of the diners taking advantage of the seasonal offering are from the Mainland, pointing out one reservation that was done using e-mail after the diner discovered the program through the KCC Web site.

Others are returning visitors who almost inevitably find their way back to the campus dining facility, Gibson said.

He pointed out that the kitchen portion of the program was being handled by 15 first-year students who would, for the first time, be “cooking to demand.”

Two of the entrees featured on Wednesday’s menu were also being shared with patrons of the adjacent college cafeteria, and as such, added an extra measure of work to the already-bustling kitchen.

“They (first-year students) spent the last semester cooking for the cafeteria, but this is the first time they will be cooking for both the cafeteria as well as for ordering customers,” he explained. “There’s a lot of pressure now.”

Those students worked silently and almost feverishly to meet the deadline for the final plating of the day’s offerings.

“There’s only one more minute left to deadline, and it looks like they’re not going to make it,” joked one second-year student.

“Our first day was late, too,” said Kolomana Basconcillo.

Chef Martina Hilldorf, one of the culinary-arts instructors, exerted her own efforts to help the students meet the rapidly-approaching cutoff time.

She assertively called on individual students to step forth to explain their “creation” while covering for other students who were engrossed at their respective work stations.

Gibson said that, this semester, there is a new twist to the fine-dining program, that being the addition of a non-alcoholic bar.

Richard Cariaga and Bob Lagazo, second-year students, had earlier prepared a batch of non-alcoholic pina coladas for the rest of the front-end staff to sample.

Gibson pointed out that all of the second-year students currently are employed in the culinary industry, while, of the first-year students, three currently have jobs within the culinary industry.

“This is good, but it also has it drawbacks,” Gibson said of the working students.

“It’s good that they have jobs, but some of them are so tired because they have the dinner shifts and don’t get out (of work) until after 10 or 11 p.m.”

The KCC fine-dining program operates on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays, with seating reservations being taken from 11:30 a.m. until noon.

Each day’s menu may be found on the KCC Web site at Call 245-8365 for reservations.


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