Cooking Without The ‘Bam’

Jo McGarry
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Wednesday - April 27, 2005
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I can honestly say I’ve had it with Emeril on TV.

I’m sure he’s a lovely man and that if I met him in person we’d get along famously, but I just can’t stand to hear him “bamming” anymore. And the audience “participation” is driving me mad. A Jerry Springer group in nicer clothes who go crazy at the mere mention of the word garlic and who hyperventilate at the sight of Emeril’s essence is almost too much to take. I can’t watch anymore.

And while we’re on the subject, I can’t watch the ubiquitous Rachel Ray anymore either. I swear if I see her stuff another bite of a sandwich into her mouth and then try to speak with food spilling out (Mmmmmmm ifff iff thooo good) I’m taking a cleaver to the TV.

Chef Wayne Hirabayashi

But the program that has truly run its course is The Iron Chef. A couple of years ago this was a hoot. The odd judging panel, made up of Japanese actresses with bad perms, and the even odder food critics were as strange a break from the unusual kitchen stadium capers as the interpreters and chefs themselves.

Today, there’s even an Iron Chef America, which takes itself way too seriously.

I mean, do you really care that there are seven different ways to serve the inside of a jellyfish? Are you up late at night craving ways to make sea cucumber and tripe seem more presentable to your family?

Somehow I don’t think so.

But anyway you look at it, we are a nation with an unquenchable thirst for culinary knowledge. So for those in pursuit of that knowledge with a little local expertise, I offer some cooking classes available right here. They range from short and simple to expensive and involved, but all of them are fun and very worthwhile.

Classes at Kapiolani Community College cover a range of subjects from the basics of cooking with chef Grant Sato to classes in Thai cuisine and the preparation of healthy, low-fat meals. The college also offers baking classes, where you can improve technique and learn the tricks of the trade, and there’s even a farmers’market class where day students go shopping with an instructor, choose local ingredients and then head over to the classroom to cook and eat lunch.

At Café Sistina, popular Italian chef and artist Sergio Mitrotti is poised to begin a series of Saturday morning classes where guests can learn the basics of creating creating the perfect Italian meal.

And at 3660 On the Rise, Russell Siu presents an ongoing series of cooking classes that show students how to make classic dishes — with an all-important sampling at the end. These classes are now so popular they almost always sell out.

And for those who love to go behind the scenes while learning secrets of favorite restaurants, the Kahala Culinary Academy is the place to go. Executive Chef Wayne Hirabayashi and his wellqualified team of sous chefs get up early Saturday mornings to present a series of classes that allow participants into the kitchens at Kahala Mandarin Oriental, while covering a host of truly interesting topics.

I went to a couple of these a few years ago when the hotel was first introducing the concept and found them to be immensely enjoyable — we sat outside in the dining room, grouped around the open kitchen for part of the class, ventured into the kitchen with Wayne to experience various ways of food preparation and cooking methods — including use of the tandoori oven and the kiawe grill — and ended the morning by having lunch.

The new term starts in May and features Mastering the Perfect Brunch, Hoku’s Secrets ( where you can learn how to make lobster corn chowder, diver scallops and osso bucco) and a Healthy Choice class where breakfast is the feature. Classes start at about $65 and are held every Saturday from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.

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