The American Culinary Federation Kona Kohala Chefs Association of Kailua-Kona, Hawai‘i has donated $245,000 to establish the ACF Kona Kohala Chefs Association & Jean Hull, CCE, AAC Culinary Endowment. This fund will support the growing culinary program at the soon-to-open Hawai‘i Community College – Pālamanui campus.

This is the largest endowment of its kind to support either campus of Hawai‘i Community College in its 50+-year history.

“This generous endowment will ensure that we can acquire and maintain the state-of-the-art kitchen equipment necessary to provide a first class educational experience for our culinary students,” said Martin “Marty” Fletcher, director of the Hawai‘i CC – Pālamanui campus.  Fletcher continued, “In addition, this endowment will also help finance culinary competitions, visiting guest chefs, special events and more, making dreams come true for many of our students and faculty.”

The American Culinary Federation (ACF) Kona Kohala Chefs Association members are industry leaders committed to enriching the culinary sector through professional development and educational opportunities. The Kona Kohala Chefs Association has more than 50 chapter members, plus college and high school student culinarians.

Fundraising for the culinary program gained momentum when former Hawai‘i CC – Pālamanui Campus culinary program associate professor Jean Hull, CCE, AAC, who is a board member of ACF Kona Kohala Chefs Association, and Jim Lightner, director of hospitality at Hawai‘i CC – West Hawai‘i campus, joined forces and organized the ‘Equip the Kitchens Campaign at Pālamanui’. This campaign raised $100,000, of the $245,000.

“We are immensely grateful to the West Hawai‘i culinary industry, chefs, residents and ACF Kona Kohala Chefs Association members. Thanks to their support and generosity we were able to make this major philanthropic investment,” said Jean Hull, CCE, AAC. “This gift represents the cumulative impact of 26 years of community support and proceeds from fundraising holiday events dating back to when we hosted our celebration at the Hulihe‘e Palace to the recent event at the Courtyard King Kamehameha Beach Hotel.”

“Having the best equipment, facilities and instructors for culinary students is paramount to producing outstanding chefs and our culinary leaders of tomorrow,” said Chef Clayton Arakawa, CEC, CCA president of the ACF Kona Kohala Chefs Association and executive chef of the Mauna Lani Bay Hotel & Bungalows.  “I can say that just about every hotel and restaurant on the Big Island of Hawai‘i has at least one or more culinary graduates from Hawai‘i Community College.  Our visitors and residents are enjoying the kind of culinary experiences that set this island and state apart both nationally and internationally,” he continued. “We are thrilled that our gift will support the needs of the culinary program at the Pālamanui campus in perpetuity.”

“I am so pleased the Kona Kohala Chefs Association opened this very large endowment to support the culinary program at our Pālamanui campus,” said Hawai‘i Community College Chancellor Noreen Yamane.  “In the 25 years since the first students graduated from the West Hawai‘i campus with an A.S. degree, our graduates have gone on to become corporate executive chefs, high school teachers promoting culinary arts, executive chefs at local and national restaurant chains, and winners of gold, silver and bronze medals at many culinary competitions,” she continued.  “We are very proud of our program and send our sincere mahalo to the entire board and its members for their support.”

Donna Vuchinich, UH Foundation president and CEO concluded, “We are most grateful to the ACF Kona Kohala Chefs Association for their vision and generosity.” Vuchinich continued, “Through active partnerships like this the University of Hawai‘i can provide the innovative programming and state-of-the-art learning environments necessary to prepare the culinary leaders of tomorrow. These students will play a key role in ensuring that Hawai‘i has the culinary and hospitality professionals it needs to be a visitor destination of choice in the years ahead.”