What the Heck?
COURTESY OF EASTER SEALS
Carol Davis, right, led the Atlas Insurance team in their version of the haka, part of last weekend's Easter Seals Gingerbread Competition.
Insurers Seal the deal with holiday haka
The team from Atlas Insurance wore matching costumes, including fish hats they'd made themselves. To stoke their competitive fires, they wrote their own version of the haka, which they performed every half-hour or so.
All to build a gingerbread house.
Last Sunday, Easter Seals held its annual Gingerbread Corporate Competition. Nearly 20 teams paid $450 to enter. Easter Seals got the money. The teams got 10 sheets of gingerbread, 10 pastry bags of white icing, assorted candies -- and two hours to build something out of gingerbread, creativity encouraged.
Architecture firm Clifford Projects brought detailed plans and hobby-sized power tools, to construct a gingerbread version of the old Kakaako Power Station. They matched the station's antique windows by melting Jolly Ranchers.
Southern Wine and Spirits built a gingerbread Super ferry pulled by whales. Bank of Hawaii constructed a mansion, complete with a model Porsche in the driveway. "We not only built a dream house, we can finance it," laughed Lisa Marie Moreno, a downtown loan officer.
There were awards for the best gingerbread creations. But the top honor was for Team Spirit -- the only award for which there was an actual prize, dinner for 10 at L&L Drive In.
"We were determined to win," said Atlas Insurance's Carol Davis. "We practiced all week."
As their Team Spirit award was announced, the dozen Atlas Insurance folks ran to the front of the room, donning their fish hats, and performing, one last time, their "Mele Kalikimaka" haka.
PHOTO BY JOHN HECKATHORN
Dean John Hart, senior Savanna Sibley and President Chatt Wright had fun last weekend at the HPU Swedish Student Association Christmas Party.
Merry Christmas. Ja!
Of all the ethnic groups in Hawaii, hardly anyone gives much thought to the Scandinavians.
Last weekend the Hawaii Pacific University Swedish Student Association threw its annual Christmas Party. It wasn't punch and cookies. It was a full-on, dress-up, drinks and dinner affair, at the Royal Hawaiian's Monarch Room.
Seldom has that room been filled with so many tall blondes.
Scandinavian countries give students vouchers to go to college, anywhere in the world. HPU recruits there. It has 100 Swedes, more than 200 Scandinavians and more than 500 European students.
At my table was Susan Reideman from Holland. She pointed out students from Austria, Germany, Italy, Denmark and Serbia. "Not too many Dutch," she said. "I haven't spoken my own language for 15 months."
There was Swedish food -- including things you seldom see in Hawaii. Of all the fish we eat, raw and seasoned, local folks tend to look askance at marinated herring in sour cream. And, of course, Hawaii eats rice -- the notion of eating fish for dessert, in a sweet pudding, seems heretical.
There was even Swedish drink -- a potent mix of red wine, port, vodka, spices and raisins, called glögg. For some it was the taste of home, for others, well, as one bon vivant put it, "I'm good on wine and vodka, but I've given up spices and raisins."
There were Swedish "Santa Lucia" ceremonies and good old American pictures with Santa. In her Santa's helper costume, HPU senior Savanna Sibley was supposed to snap Polaroids of people with Santa. "I'm not sure what happened," she said, "but most people wanted pictures with me instead."
That's her in the photo, between HPU Dean John Hart, adviser to the Swedish Student Association, and President Chatt Wright, who's taken the small school global.
Lost in Translation
Traveling in China, John Alves, president of PacificBasin Communications, wanted to pick up some kind of office gift for his employees.
His guide in the garden city of Suzhou told him the local candy would fill the bill perfectly.
Alves carted several boxes all the way home and was about to put them out for his office mates.
Then he read the only English paragraph on the package: "Suzhou brickle candy, with hundred years history, do have special fill a prescription and diaphanous particular technics. Also well-chosen materials make it with ambrosial taste."
"For some reason, that made me uneasy," says Alves. He thought he had better taste the candy first before feeding it to anyone else. "It was horrible," he said. He's hoping it's the thought that counts.
Uyehara Surfaces at Beachhouse
"Look at all this," says chef Rodney Uyehara. He points to the bone-in rib-eye steaks sizzling on the 8-foot-long Wolf grill, the free-standing Combi Oven he flew to the mainland to learn how to use, the gleaming stainless steel work counters. "This is one real kitchen!"
Uyehara's fans from The Bistro at Century Center, will be pleased to learn that he's smiling in the display kitchen of Beachhouse, at the newly rebranded Westin Moana Surfrider. In case you're wondering, it's one of those pricey, nouveau steak and seafood restaurants.
It took a while to settle on the concept and hire Uyehara. First, there was long negotiation with New York restaurant genius Jean-George Vongerichten. Jean-George was going to bring to the hotel one of his "simple food" restaurants, like Mercer Street that's getting mixed reviews in SoHo.
That didn't work out, but Jean-George buffs can look forward to a restaurant at Kauai's Princeville Resort, part of its $60 million renovation and rebranding as a St. Regis.
Bring the Love, Forget the Guitar
David "Ziggy" Marley was in town last weekend for a concert at Kualoa Ranch, a wrap-up to his "Love is My Religion" tour. "We try to end in Hawaii, so we can chill," says the reggae star, one of Bob Marley's 13 children.
But he wasn't chilling last Saturday, because midday his entourage remembered he was supposed to do an in-store appearance at Sam Goody's Ala Moana. "They threw me in a van, saying go, go, we're late," says Marley.
Ziggy brought the love. Unfortunately, he forgot his guitar. "It always works out, man. There was a guy with a guitar in line. I borrowed it, and now he has a nice story to tell his family."