Something for everyone to enjoy at KCC breakfast

PUHI — A paper tower 64 inches high in brisk chilly winds?

Aaron Haberman did it. And as the minutes ticked down, Luke Shimabukuro scratched his head trying to figure out how to surpass the feat and fight the clock using just a single sheet of paper and up to 3 feet of tape.

In the end, the record stood.

“His first one was only about 4 feet high,” said event host Marlene Duarte of the Kaua‘i Economic Development Board. “But an engineer came and built one taller than 50 inches, so Aaron came and built the 64-incher. And it stood on its own for the required five seconds.”

Fortunately for the non-paper-tower enthusiasts, that was just one of many events at the technology fair inside Kaua‘i Community College’s technology building.

Brisk winds scrapped the planned launch of Chiefess Kamakahelei Middle School rocketry club rockets, but that didn’t stop the students from checking out other technological offerings.

“This is late in the year for us,” said Forrest Blassingame, visiting from Denver. “We usually leave too soon to enjoy this.”

Blassingame, who caddied for LPGA professional golfer Kathy Whitworth during the days of the Kemper Open, said he and his wife ended up buying a timeshare and have been coming to Kaua‘i ever since.

“We were married here in 1994 and we come back around Jan. 29 every year to celebrate our anniversary,” Blassingame said.

The tech fair coincided with the 21st annual American Culinary Federation Breakfast, an event that has grown so huge it sprawled across the campus under several tents. Peggy Cha greeted the stream of diners at the gate.

“There was a line at 7 a.m. when we opened,” KCC Chancellor Cha said, bundled up against the biting wind while greeting the stream of hungry patrons pouring through the gate, “and it’s been pretty steady ever since.”

An occasional passing shower sent diners scrambling for the shelter of the closest tent.

“Don’t get too close to the grills,” Mark Sassone, executive chef at the Hilton Kaua‘i Beach Resort, said as diners huddled under the small tent where a non-stop stream of pancakes went from the griddle to a plate to a stomach.

Robert Arii of the Hilton culinary crew said they went through about 80 pounds of dry pancake mix. Toward the 11 a.m. closing time, on attendant at the gate estimated that 1,750 meals has been served.

This time of year is one of the busiest for the KCC culinary students, who split their time with the executive chef Guy Higa at the breakfast and helping Higa’s staff at the Kaua‘i Marriott Beach Club and Resort prepare for the Kaua‘i Chinese Cultural Society’s Chinese New Year celebration on March 3.

For instructor Billy Gibson, the highlight of the day was about $15,000 in scholarships going to more than 20 students who worked alongside chefs from popular Kaua‘i restaurants.

Gibson said the Rotary Club of Kapa‘a, represented by Dan Spriggs, contributed $8,000, the Rotary Club of Po‘ipu Beach gave $5,000, the ACF provided $1,500 and the Hilton Kaua‘i contributed $1,000.

Non-culinary KCC staffers helped in other areas, like Joseph Vegas, who produced some wooden bracelets from monkeypod trees that were cut back from the campus parking lot several months ago. KCC art instructor Kyungsoo Lee had four of her students’ work for sale.

“This is the first time the students have done this,” Lee said. “Usually we have a reception after each semester, but this is the first time they’ve exhibited at the breakfast.”

Wayne Miyata’s students offered a wide variety of ceramics, highlighted by former culinary arts chef Clarence Nishi.

Over at the used book sale, KCC Nursing Club students gave free body fat analyses and blood pressure screenings.

Somehow it all fit together.

“I had my fill with the pancakes, but now I gotta walk around before getting into the omelets,” one patron said. “I don’t want to be uncomfortable.”

• Dennis Fujimoto can be reached at 245-3681 (ext. 253) or dfujimoto@kauaipubco.com.

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