PUHI — Hard work for Kauai Community College culinary arts students paid off in hardware Friday at the American Culinary Federation-sanctioned Student Culinary Expo held at the Kapiolani Community College on Oahu.
Four KCC culinary arts students — Vincent Simon, Darrik Baker, Jason Ebesu and Konane Henline — represented the Kauai program with chef Martina Hilldorfer and Steven Nakata.
“All four medaled,” Hilldorfer said. “Sim and Heline were silver medal winners for the Individual Hot Food category. Ebesu and Baker both earned gold medals. Baker was also named first place in the Judges’ Choice.”
Henline, who aspires to start a program teaching sustainability, earned her silver for sauteed snapper with a ginger butter sauce, coconut forbidden rice, and Asian vegetables.
“You start international and return to Kauai,” Henline said of her program. “The first thing you learn is how to grow things, and then learn to cook for the different cultures — starting international and coming home.”
The students said there was a lot of practice — 120 hours since October.
“We prepared the dishes over and over,” Baker said. “We practiced up to the point of going over to Oahu. We were pretty prepared going into the competition.”
Baker earned his votes for crusted rack of lamb, lamb reduction, tomato Provencal and spinach timbale and rissole potatoes.
Simon, who is hoping to work at a local resort after graduation, earned his silver medal for lamb chops with a red wine reduction, pommes berny and turned carrots and zucchini.
“I like cooking contemporary Asian,” Simon said. “I think that comes from growing up here and being influenced by the local dishes.”
Ebesu, who aspires to pursue charcuterie, or the science of sausages and cured meats, following graduation, earned his gold medal for chicken roulade with Marsala sauce and hamakua mushrooms, sweet potato gnocci, cauliflower and asparagus Polonaise.
Chef Steven Nakata said the students all competed in the Individual Hot Food category, one of many categories at the expo.