PUHI — Kahu Wayne Vidinha of Ke Akua Mana Church got help from above Wednesday as a light mist coated guests and dignitaries to the blessing of the new $1.5-million Cultural Culinary Facility at the Kauai Community College.
“This has been a dream of Chef Mark Oyama for a long time,” said Hawaii Senate President Ron Kouchi. “Chef Mark has been working hard for years to see such a facility come to life.”
Oyama said KCC offers imu service for the students, but on a raw basis, the students have to dig the pit and gather the rocks in rain and inclement weather.
“This Cultural Culinary Facility, oftentimes referred to as ‘The Imu,’ started with a conversation with Pila Kikuchi,” Oyama said. “This is cultural cooking where we celebrate those people who came before us. We learn from kupuna.”
The facility features a sunken imu lined with special bricks, a wooden framework built to fit the pit, and a custom-fitted lid which comes apart to reveal its innards.
Off to one side, a Portuguese oven greets people to the semi-open air design of the building whose architecture that speaks of Polynesia.
INK Architects with Reid Arakawa and Scott Harada did the architectual design. Shioi Construction was the general contractor.
“We’re even thinking of getting some equipment to do lechon,” Oyama said. “We could fit it with the imu.”