Community college chefs head to Florida for national culinary championship

Culinary students from Kapiolani Community College are preparing for a big competition next week.

Members of the school’s culinary competition team — Jeremy David, Richard G. Lee, Kimberly Lim, Qihao (Sam) Tan, Sean Uyehara, and Christian Rae Wong — will head to Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort in Orlando for Cook. Craft. Create. American Culinary Federation (ACF) National Convention and Show.

“We bring everything from scratch, all our equipment, all our food, and then they’ve got to build something out of that within a certain time,” explained lead chef instructor Jason Peel, who will accompany them to Florida, “just trying to make it work in that time and push ourselves to the limit and get as much possible things on there as possible.”

On the first day of competition, the team will create a cold food buffet platter utilizing a market basket filled with rabbit, peas, corn, red lentils and Habanero chilies. Teams must demonstrate high-art form attributes of presentation.

On day two, the team will have 90 minutes to prepare a four-course meal, including a seafood starter, salad, main course, and dessert. Their menu will consist of lobster chawan mushi with black garlic and truffle; compressed melon and tomato salad with avocado, yogurt, sesame and yuzu; Thai-inspired chicken with green curry and coconut; and mango mousse, lilikoi curd, vanilla panna cotta and raspberry-lychee sorbet.

Tan says he’s excited but nervous for the challenge.

“We practice a lot, spend a lot of our free time here. That makes for a more stressful time, but we’re also enjoying this,” he said. “The competition is a very good opportunity to develop ourselves, to find out what we can do best.”

The competition takes place Tuesday and Wednesday, July 11 and 12, with the winners announced on Thursday, July 13.

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