Merriman’s Murphy plays guest chef for KCC culinary arts students

PUHI — Chef Neil Murphy encourages students to leave the islands after graduation from the culinary arts department at  Kaua‘i Community College, and then return home with what they have learned.

“You won’t make any money (by leaving the Islands), but you’ll learn a lot,” Murphy said. “Then, you come back here and bring back what you’ve learned.”

Murphy, with help from Chef Mark Arriola and his culinary crew at Merriman’s Kaua‘i, was on hand to demonstrate breaking down a whole lamb for first-year and second-year students in the KCC culinary arts program. The presentation was taped for future reference by the KCC media crew.

The presentation, hosted by the Hawai‘i Culinary Education Foundation, was done in the college’s fine dining facility, which after Tuesday transforms into a setting for elegant lunch dining.

Duane Miyasato, a KCC culinary arts instructor, said the culinary arts department has 17 available dates for fine dining before the semester ends, but of those, 14 dates are already sold out.

Murphy leads the culinary line at Merriman’s in Honolulu, after more than 20 years of experience in revered kitchens of New York City.

During his time at the River Cafe, Aureole, La Cote Basque, Symphony Cafe and Park Avenue Cafe, Murphy earned critical acclaim from the New York Times , which described his cooking as “fresh and flavorful,” “impressive” and “lovely.”

He has also been featured on “At the Chef’s Table,” a nationally syndicated television show produced by public television.

Murphy literally started his career underwater, on a U.S. Navy submarine where his sense of taste was put to work.

He refined his culinary skills by enrolling in the Culinary Institute of America, expanding his expertise, refining his techniques and gaining exposure to many different types of cuisine.

Prior to joining Merriman’s, Murphy was chef de cuisine at Park Avenue Cafe in New York City for eight years.

In addition to the breaking down demonstration, Murphy led a cooking demonstration using the broken down lamb with students being allowed tasting honors.

The guest chef appearance was made possible through the Hawai‘i Culinary Education Foundation, a non-profit corporation championing culinary education in Hawai‘i.

The foundation’s mission is to provide Hawai‘i’s culinary students access to the best knowledge and exposure to cutting-edge techniques through a variety of programs with local, national and internationally known chefs and food experts.

Visit for more information.

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


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