Monday, August 23, 1999

Foodies flock
to art academy’s
culinary fund-raiser

Several top chefs cook
to help kids' programs

By Betty Shimabukuro


The art of a chef is a fine art indeed, so why not mix the two, throw in a whole lot of wine and make some money for a good cause while you're at it?

Last night, more than 600 people packed the courtyards of the Honolulu Academy of Arts' Showcase 1999 for an eating, drinking, art-viewing event to benefit the academy's programs for children.

The event grossed $34,000 -- the academy's share will be calculated once the chefs' costs are covered, said Vicki Reisner, coordinator of volunteer services and special projects. An art sale on Saturday raised an additional $30,000, of which the academy will net 40 percent, with more art pieces being sold last night. Typically, about $20,000 ends up in academy coffers.

The event sold out more than a week in advance, and for island foodies, the reason was clear: culinary star power. In person, dishing up plates of their signature dishes were Alan Wong, Roy Yamaguchi, Jean-Marie Josselin, Hiroshi Fukui, Philippe Padovani and more.

All for a $60 ticket, which in some cases is less than a single meal at most of those restaurants.

Event organizer Chuck Furuya said most of the chefs have returned year after year, to the point where he has offers from more than he can accommodate.

For their part, the chefs find the event brings good exposure -- to a prime demographic audience, as far as fine dining goes -- while allowing them to contribute to the community. "I think it's a good cause, bringing the arts to Oahu," Josselin said. "For us, it's only natural."

Faye Koyanagi, a repeat patron of the Showcase, said it is a unique opportunity to sample these chefs' offerings side by side. Plus, she said, "the atmosphere is just perfect."

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