BETTY SHIMABUKURO / BETTY@STARBULLETIN.COM
A array of pastries made by Leeward Community College students was served at Friday's opening party for the new Pearl restaurant. The restaurant's decor has a bright, contemporary feel.
LCC culinary program has a new Pearl
A celebration marked the grand opening of LCC's new Pearl restaurant
The untying of the maile lei Friday marked the end of a long, long, loooong wait for the culinary program at Leeward Community College.
The celebration marked the grand opening of LCC's new Pearl restaurant -- bigger, brighter and prettier than the old Pearl, with huge glass windows and a sweeping view of Pearl Harbor.
The Pearl is where LCC's culinary students will practice what they've learned in the shiny new teaching kitchens finished last February.
Before that? Generations of students learned the trade while packed into cramped, ill-equipped facilities. It took years of fundraising and legislative lobbying to make the $6 million renovation possible.
The effect on students and faculty is clear, Tommy Benavente, LCC's culinary coordinator, said. "It's like when you've had a long, refreshing shower, or you get a new haircut, or you get a new outfit. You feel like a million bucks, you feel you can do anything. That's how our students feel."
Benavente said the dream of these new facilities predates her joining the LCC faculty 20 years ago.
The program has about 100 students, growing slowly since the new kitchens opened, but recruiting efforts will be beefed up, she said, "now that we have something to brag about."
A new Culinary Special Events course has been added -- the last class in each students' degree path. It challenges the students to plan, execute and market a special dining event in the new Pearl.
The Pearl is open to the public for lunch, 11 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Wednesdays through Fridays. Eventually, those hours will increase and the Pearl will be available for private parties for up to 100, Benavente said. "We have to be sure we can walk before we can run."
Meanwhile, though, a grand-opening dinner, featuring chefs Martin Wyss and Hans Weiler, is planned for Oct. 28. Cost is $75; $95 with wine pairings.