Star-Bulletin Features

Wednesday, October 10, 2001

Culinary students Nolan Brown, left, and Aaron Kwok
are ready to serve at Ho'okipa on the Royal Hawaiian Hotel lawn.

Delay paid off for
KCC’s Ho‘okipa

By Betty Shimabukuro

The teachers' strike back in April was a setback that turned into a boon for Kapiolani Community College's Ho'okipa celebration.

The annual fund-raiser for the school's Food Service and Hospitality program had to be moved from spring to fall because of the strike, but the extra months gained by the postponement translated into $60,000 more in ticket sales, coordinator Kelvin Ro says.

"We were so bummed because of the strike, but it was a blessing in disguise."

The Ho'okipa went on Friday night, and despite competition (and traffic congestion) posed by the Waikiki Ho'olaule'a the same night, 600 people showed up to partake of food prepared by KCC culinary students and their chef/instructors.

The event raised more than $170,000, with the school expecting to net about $125,000. "Who would think a public school could raise that kind of money?" Ro said.

It was a distinctively creative event in the way it raised money. Consider the awarding of the centerpieces after dinner, for example. Instead of the traditional lucky number games, etc., mini auctions were held at each table. The catch was that each centerpiece came with a secret prize -- grand prize being dinner for 30 at KCC's Ka 'Ikena dining room. There were also restaurant gift certificates, bottles of wine and one neighbor island trip.

"Some people bid $2 and some people bid $1,000," Ro said. The little enterprise raised $2,400, "so that paid for the centerpieces and the leis."

The key with an event like this, Ro said, is you can't rely solely on ticket sales. Ho'okipa tickets went for $100 to $200 and tables for up to $10,000, but heavy-duty donations kept expenses down and profits up. The Royal Hawaiian Hotel, for example, donated a ballroom and its open lawn for the event. Much of the food and all the liquor was donated by vendors, and entertainers Robert Cazimero, his halau, Danny Kaleikini and Jimmy Kaina all gave their time.

Through an event of this scale, the Food Service and Hospitality program -- with its 1,000 students -- proves itself a player in the tourism industry, Ro said. And truthfully, this is an industry that could use some good news right now.

"The biggest impact we had was getting the awareness out. ... awareness that our program is important to the state," he said.

The Ho'okipa program included the awarding of the first Mixed Plate Scholarship, donated by KITV news anchor Pamela Young and named for her television specials.

Young is donating $750 a year to fund a semester's study for a KCC culinary student. The first winner, selected based on a recipe contest and cookoff, was Julian Draves. Draves' winning dish was Stuffed Collard Greens in a Jalapeño Vinaigrette.

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