Lei Day festivities start early -- at 6:30 a.m. tomorrow -- at Victoria Ward Centers. Pick up a lei at curbside along Auahi Street on your way to work. Pick up a Hawaiian plate lunch at Ward Farmer's Market. Pick up an award for your own lei creation; drop off entries at the Ward Warehouse stage by 6 p.m. Also, there's entertainment all day throughout the center's shops.

Pre-Taste tickets

Scrip packages for the Taste of Honolulu go on sale tomorrow, offering a 20 percent savings on eating and drinking at the three-day festival.

The 12th annual event, which involves restaurants from all over Oahu, takes place June 20 to 22 on the grounds of the Honolulu Civic Center.

A package including $50 in scrip and two admission tickets -- worth $56 -- sells for $45. Proceeds benefit Easter Seals Hawaii. The packages will be available through May. Call 536-1015.

Kusuma Cooray, center, supervises students in the preparation of her annual Indian dinner.


Journey to India

There are still seats at the table for chef Kusuma Cooray's annual "A Night in India" dinner Friday at Kapiolani Community College.

The menu, to be served at the school's Ka Ikena Dining Room: Pakoras with Tamarind Chutney, Kesar Chaval (saffron rice), Curried Eggplant, Poppadoms and Cardamom Ice Cream. Wine is included and traditional Indian dance will be performed.

Cost is $50, to support the Kapiolani Asia Pacific Emphasis international education program. Tomorrow night's Indian dinner has been canceled. Call 734-9570.

Fishy pursuits

Next Wednesday will be dedicated to the fishes. And the shrimp and the prawns and all the other creatures of the sea, or at least the ones that can be grown on land.

The Hawaii Aquaculture Conference at Windward Community College is an annual think fest for anyone who studies, grows, sells or cooks farm-raised seafood.

The day will include scholarly sessions on the status of the industry ("Shrimp Viruses" and "Feeds for Larval Rearing" are among topics), but there's also an evening reception, "A Taste of Hawaii Aquaculture," featuring farm-raised products prepared by local chefs.

The conference runs 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. Cost is $50, which includes continental breakfast, lunch from Sam Choy's (with Choy as guest speaker) and the reception. After Friday, registration is $55. Call 587-0030.

A royal repast

The menu at the Bishop Museum's Royal Hawaiian Ball really reaches back in time.

The awards dinner May 10 at the Hilton Hawaiian Village Coral Ballroom includes Kohala Prawns Maxim with Aspic of Oahu Quails and Royal Consomme of Kauai Pheasant. Grilled tenderloin fills out the menu, along with baby vegetables from Maui served with Waipio taro.

The 6 p.m. gala includes silent auction dancing. Entertainers include Cathy Foy, Nalani Olds, the Kamehameha Schools Elementary Jazz Band and the Royal Hawaiian Band, all performing music created by or for the Hawaiian monarchy.

Awards will be presented to James C. McIntosh, chairman of the Harold K.L. Castle Foundation, and Bob Krauss, columnist for the Honolulu Advertiser

Cost is $200, to benefit the museum's education programs. Call 848-4157.

That's Italian!

Kapiolani Community College is offering a two-part class on Italian cooking over a pair of Saturdays in May. Chef/instructor Alfredo Cabacungan will teach classic dishes in the first class, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. May 10, followed by chef/instructor Dan Weter, 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. May 17, with Italian baked specialties such as focaccia and tiramisu.

Both classes are hands-on, meaning participants will do the cooking. Their efforts will then be served as lunch.

Cost is $320. Call 734-9211.

Big Isle cook-off on TV

The Food Network will air its coverage of the Big Island Cook-Off, hosted by Masaharu Morimoto, former Iron Chef Japanese, this weekend.

Morimoto appeared in November as part of the Big Island Festival, overseeing "Iron Chef" style competitions pitting local chefs against Food & Wine magazine's Best New Chefs.

The show will air at 3 p.m. Saturday and 6 p.m. Sunday.

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