Pancakes, pickles a good mix for St. John’s

‘ELE‘ELE — Tradition steeped in the mix of the pancake batter and miso soup gave diners their money’s worth yesterday at the Episcopal Church on West Kaua‘i’s pancake breakfast.

“We wanted a fundraiser, but we also wanted the community involved,” said Greg Williams who was replacing an empty Kaua‘i Coffee carafe in ‘Ele‘ele School. “That was 24 years ago, and today we’re still serving breakfast in October.”

Pastor Mary Lindquist said the pancake breakfast is a nice way to have fun and fellowship among families and the community, and was pleased that the new feature of children’s games allowed more people to bring their children and eat in at the school cafeteria.

In the back kitchen where the pancakes were being snatched up as fast as the cooks could scrape them off the vintage griddle, Arnold Leong said two of the original chefs — Kaoru Fujita and Mike Kikugawa — were at the helm of spatulas like they did when the event first started.

“They’re using a griddle they found in the back of somebody’s garage,” Leong said.

Through the chain of breakfasts, that vintage griddle has undergone some modifications to where it can use propane gas cylinders, but its original base still

remains and its burners are still intact.

Williams said when they started the breakfast, they were inspired by the late Jimmy Tehada who was a member of the Koloa Lions Club.

“They had a pancake breakfast and we talked to Jimmy and kind of copied what they were doing,” Williams said. “But we were the first to offer miso soup because some of our women cooked it up and brought it to the breakfast.”

But the women brought more than the miso soup as outside the main serving line, tables lined with homemade pickles, tsukemono in Japanese, beckoned diners with their aroma.

“Other people now serve miso soup,”  Williams said, “but I think we’re the only ones who have the ladies who still bring the pickles.”

Lindquist said this year’s event sold some 650 tickets, about the same number as last year.

He said the event would not be so successful without the help of donors such as Ventures who donated a lot of the paper goods and Hawai‘i Flour Mill who donated a case of pancake mix and Kaua‘i Coffee who provided the morning coffee.

Paulette Lum, one of the volunteers in the to-go line, said the breakfast is an annual fundraiser for the church. They have a rummage and craft sale some time late in the summer, but it’s “when we feel like it.”

“The pancake breakfast always happens in October,” Lum said.

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

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