Sweet sustainability lesson for KCC culinary students using UH Hilo honey

The mouthwatering event was the culmination of a two-day collaboration in November, blending sustainability, education, and the importance of honey bees in the ecosystem.

Alan Wong, Lorna Tsutsumi, and Alan Tsuchiyama stand for a photo at a display table with signs University of Hawai'i Kapi'olani Community College Culinary Institute of the Pacific. The table has gift bags with the bee program logo.
From left, Chef Alan Wong, UH Hilo Professor of Entomology Lorna Tsutsumi, and Chef Alan Tsuchiyama at a recent culinary event featuring honey from UH Hilo apiaries. (Courtesy photo)

Using honey produced at the University of Hawai‘i at Hilo’s apiary, culinary students from Kapi‘olani Community College’s “American Regional and Sustainable” course produced a mouthwatering menu for supporters and donors to UH Hilo’s Adopt-A-Beehive Program with Alan Wong. It was the culmination of a two-day collaboration in November, blending sustainability, education, and the importance of honey bees in the ecosystem.

The specially crafted menu made by Kapi‘olani CC Chef Alan Tsuchiyama and culinary arts program students included:

  • Honey and smoked paprika southern fried Ludovico Farm chicken
  • Honey bbq smoked pork ribs
  • Honey glazed sweet potato, apple banana and candied nuts
  • Mari’s Garden greens with house smoked honey bacon bits, honey glazed macadamia nuts and honey mustard vinaigrette
  • Honey butter cornbread
  • Honey vanilla panna cotta topped with braised honey pineapple
Ribs in a to-go container.
Honey BBQ smoked pork ribs, ready to eat! (Courtesy photos)

 

Now in its 13th year, the Adopt-A-Beehive Program raises awareness about honey bees’ vital role in agriculture and the environment while financially supporting UH Hilo beekeeping students working toward their degrees.

Lorna holds a honey comb with bees.
Lorna Tsutsumi at UH Hilo’s apiary. (File photo)

“Chef Alan Wong and I are very grateful for the opportunity to work with Chef Tsuchiyama and his culinary students,” says Lorna Tsutsumi, UH Hilo professor of entomology and co-founder of the Adopt-A-Beehive Program. “He took the honey harvested by the beekeeping students at UH Hilo farm and, with the skills that he imparts to his students, turned it into a fantastic meal for our community program supporters. That’s what it’s all about, bringing light to the importance of honey bees for local and global sustainability.”

Tsutsumi and co-founder Wong shared their expertise with the culinary students through a unique presentation that highlighted the complexity and significance of honey bees in both the ecosystem and culinary arts.

“We learned about the vital role that honey bees play in our community,” says Kapi‘olani CC culinary student Lauren Horita. “Honey bees are the pollinators of crops, allowing us to have an abundance of produce to create dishes. I loved that we utilized the honey from UH Hilo in various dishes and learned a lot about the varieties of honey, the describer factors and grades of honey.”­­

The insightful lecture also gave the students a deeper understanding of the journey from hive to table and emphasized the responsibilities of a chef regarding agriculture, sustainability and scarcity of ingredients.

“This experience with Chef Wong and Professor Tsutsumi has opened my eyes to how crucial honey bees are in our lives and as culinary professionals,” says student Ruth Cundiff. “Without bees to pollinate, we will start to see a scarcity in ingredients that are used daily. As an aspiring chef who cares about sustaining the foods we enjoy for the next generation, I learned of the importance of being mindful of the impact we make now.”

Group photo.
Group photo of culinary students from Kapi‘olani Community College with Chef Alan Wong and Chef Alan Tsuchiyama at the November event. (Courtesy photo)

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