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Agriculture and Culinary Arts farm-to-table partnership pleases palates

A beautiful academic partnership is blooming across the Hawaiʻi Community College campus. The Agriculture program is providing produce for the campus’ Culinary Arts program and students on both sides are thrilled.

Hawaiʻi CC Agriculture student Ana Murillo said, “I feel that that this is very important to Hawaiʻi because 90 percent of our food is imported.”

The Ag students are growing lettuce, tomatoes and edible flowers among other requested crops for their Culinary counterparts.

“The best part is getting the knowledge to grow our own food and how to grow sustainably or organically,” noted Hawaiʻi CC Agriculture student Joshua Agno.

Once their crops are picked and washed, they are whisked to Hawaiʻi CC’s kitchens. “I really, really like [the partnership with the ag program] because it helps us get really good quality vegetables,” said Hawaiʻi CC Culinary student Darrell Egami, Jr.

Culinary students transform produce so fresh it could have been picked that morning into gourmet fare such as an amuse bouche of crostini with ceviche and a tomato soup shooter.

Hawaiʻi CC Culinary student Jericho Tobin gestured towards the delicious appetizer he had just assembled. “We got the tomato soup that’s from the ag department. They provide a lot of great products. Their greens are awesome. Their heirloom tomatoes are awesome.”

Students and the community can enjoy the culinary creations at campus dining establishments. Culinary Instructor Brian Hirata, who has worked at some of the state’s best restaurants, says the collaboration helps teach his students the value of locally grown produce and how to form business partnerships with local farmers.

“I think food security and food sustainability is really important,” said Hirata. “We feel it’s really necessary to teach our students, you know the next generation, about that. And the best way for us is [through] this collaboration.”