On December 3, 2011, Big Island culinary students at West Hawaii Community College put on their holiday hats and whipped together gingerbread creations for the “Dining with the Chefs,” at the Fairmont Orchid, in Waikoloa. The future chefs constructed gingerbread centerpieces fashioned to resemble a variety of Hawaii landmarks. The unique, holiday centerpieces were auctioned for as much as $100 a piece to benefit culinary scholarships and kitchen equipment for the West Hawaii campus at Palamanui.
The enterprising HawCC students constructed landmarks like Hulihe’e Palace and Moku’aikaua Church, using dough and a variety of food products – ice cream cones, noodles, pretzels and candy. Debuting last year as gingerbread “hale,” the gingerbread creations were designed under the supervision of pastry instructor-chef, Fernand Guiot. Guiot is a 15-year owner of Kailua-Kona’s former French Bakery. During the event, students were on hand to “talk story” about their creations and assisted chefs and confectioners at culinary stations.
Not only were attendees wowed by the creative talents of the budding culinary students, but also were treated to tantalizing cuisine, elegant desserts and mouthwatering confections prepared by chefs from West Hawaii’s top resorts and restaurants. The various culinary stations offered a variety of dishes, which included Fresh Island Catch with Spicy Sashimi Togarashi, Molokai Sweet Potato Puree, Asian Sprout Salad drizzled with Lemongrass Haupia Sauce, Island Tomato Consume, Sweet Corn Bisque and Chocolate Mint Brownies.
The Christmas fundraiser annually unites twenty-some resorts and restaurants from Waimea to Kealakekua to participate in the event. They each offered exceptional cuisine and volunteered their private services for biding at the exciting live auction. One of the standout auction items this year included a one night stay for two at the Sheraton Keauhou Bay Resort & Spa; complimentary dinner for six in the presidential suite, and breakfast – a $3,200 value.
New this year, the fundraiser offered a variety of locally sourced gift baskets, food products and family activities available via silent auction. “We have stepped up our fundraising efforts to help outfit the culinary classrooms at Kona’s future community college,” says Stephen Marquard, event director. “The Palamanui campus will have two, 1,200-square-foot kitchens and an 800-square-foot bakery.”