Archive for the ‘Hawaii food industry’ Category

Seeds of Hope

September 3rd, 2014
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PROGRAM ALERT: The new September episode of Career Changers TV premieres Thurs., 7:30 PM on OC16 (channel 12/high def 1012). For daily viewing times, please visit www.CareerChangers.TV. You can also watch segments from past and current shows on the CCTV YouTube Channel, which now has over half a million views!

August was crazy busy for me so I didn't have time to weigh in on the elections (no surprise Neil got trounced -- I've written in this blog that right after he got elected, he and his "team" promptly alienated supporters by ignoring them), Kawainui Marsh plans (I live next to the marsh and can tell you the same objections being raised now were raised over 10 years ago by residents -- and ignored by the bureaucrats who get paid to do these pie-in-the-sky fantasy park plans), or UH athletics/football problems (again, same old obstacles ignored by the State Legislature and public at large).

And yet, my latest show is about people who are doing positive things without government help or involvement! What started as a short feel-good piece on Seed Restaurant in Kaimuki, near Big City Diner, grew into something much bigger once I started talking to the couple behind the venture. I was a bit leery when I first read that it was affiliated with a religious ministry because I consider myself an agnostic and have issues with organized religions in general. However, Jordan and Sonya Seng, the couple behind Seed and Bluewater Mission in Palama Settlement are... well, different than what you might expect. They met at Stanford University. His background was in academia -- he wound up at Harvard, writing papers on nuclear proliferation/WMDs and warned about meddling in the Middle East back in 2001 before we invaded Iraq (his analysis was quite prescient). She studied music, sang professionally  (Jordan taught himself to play instruments so he could back her up) and acted in commercials, TV shows, musical theater productions. Jordan's stories about growing up on the run with his fugitive father is pretty incredible too.

None of that stuff is in the two-parter we're running this month. I'm saving their personal back story for a future show because I want people to hear why they started Seed Restaurant and understand that this is how change happens. They had no experience whatsoever in the restaurant biz. But they were trying to help the homeless, survivors of domestic abuse, sex trafficking and prostitution, ex cons... people who have largely been left to fend for themselves without the tools or resources to rebuild their lives. And here they are half a year later, with a thriving restaurant that sticks to their core principles of "justice." They are accomplishing more with far less money than city, state and federal agencies have spent on countless studies and pilot programs. Yes, it's on a small scale -- but that's how you tackle big problems: one person, one step at a time. I love what they're doing. Check out my show, and I think you'll be impressed too. Maybe even moved, like I was.

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Speaking of tackling, I have to get in some last licks about the UH home opener against Washington. Months ago when it was announced season tickets were at an all-time low, I used that opportunity to upgrade our seats at a decent price. We've been there at Aloha Stadium, rain or shine, win or lose, and stuck with them through the tough times, which made the winning seasons even more special. When Ben Jay commented that football might be dropped, I knew he was talking about a hypothetical scenario set in the future -- not something imminent. But I hoped it would light a fire and make people realize you can't take things for granted. Sure enough, there was a much bigger crowd for the first game than was projected. And the stadium management blew it.

My wife and I got there around 2 PM for the 4:30 PM kick-off and we could already see the parking lots were nearly full. Traffic was backing up around the stadium. Hundreds of people waited hours to get into the lot, then waited in lines for tickets, or gave up and went home. Not a great way to entice fans to come out to future games. Inside the stadium, it was obvious the management expected the dire predictions of a small crowd. There were fewer concession stands open than we've ever seen at a UH football game, including during the Von Appen Era.

This is what negativity and pessimism does. It creates a self-fulfilling prophecy. The team is expected to be bad, so people won't come, so we'll plan on them not coming, and then when they come, we won't be ready to handle the crowd, so they'll have a bad experience... and then the future crowds will meet their initial low projections. Sheesh.

My one gripe about the UH effort on the field was a moment of indecision by the coaching staff during the first half of a tight game: fourth and one inside the Red Zone. The Bows had Washington on their heels. Joey Iosefa was plowing over people. We had already scored twice on the Huskies defense. Now, if this was Navy or Georgia Tech, which runs triple option, they don't hesitate. They line up with the QB under center. Sometimes they snap it quick. Other times they try to draw the defense offsides to get a "free" first down. If the defense doesn't bite on the hard count, they'll call a time-out or take a delay of game penalty, then kick the field goal.

So why didn't we at least try to draw Washington offside BEFORE calling the time out, instead of running a trick play AFTER the Huskies had a chance to regroup? That's also what I don't like about the shotgun in short yardage situations. It literally limits your options on running plays and takes away the QB sneak. Heck, even back when I played high school football, the quarterback and center always had an "automatic" tap on the butt play to snap the ball if there wasn't a defensive lineman covering the center. With a running QB like Woolsey, that should be part of the short yardage package.

Anyhow, I still liked that they went for it on fourth down instead of just settling for the field goal. Like the folks who started Seed Restaurant, sometimes you have to take chances and have faith in people to make things work.

Cemetery Pupu Theater and More!

June 18th, 2014
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cemetery theater pix

Got plans for the weekend? If not, check out the Cemetery Pupu Theater on Fri., June 20 or Sat., June 21 (also next Friday and Saturday evenings as well). This new production focuses on real life people who practiced medicine in Hawaii during the 1800s and a composite character representing Native Hawaiian small pox victims. You can learn more about this unique Hawaiian Mission Houses program by watching the segment we produced for Career Changers TV (click here).

On Sat., June 21  from 1 to 5 PM, the Waimea Valley Summer Concert series kicks off with a great line-up: Jerry Santos, Brother Noland and Led Kaapana. Here's the commercial we did for them that provides additional details. Worth the drive up to the North Shore!

Speaking of Waimea Valley, they have a couple of other announcements. First, the Proud Peacock restaurant has quietly reopened for dinner on Thursdays through Saturdays 5 to 10 PM, and Sunday brunch between 10 AM and 2 PM. Excerpts from their press release below:

Originally opened in 1976, The Proud Peacock was a popular watering hole amongst the locals. There will be live music every evening and at Sunday’s Brunch. The newly expanded bar boasts a cozy tavern feel, serving up specialty cocktails, draft and bottled beer and a variety of wines to choose from... Newly appointed Chef Andy Dalan has an extensive background in the culinary arts. Winner of the 2011 Ilima Award for “Best New Restaurant” and the 2012 Rice Fest Competition. A graduate of the Kapiolani Community College Culinary Arts program, Chef Andy comes to us with a vast diversity of experience from Marriott, Waikele Clubhouse, and Kapolei Golf Course to Roy’s add a few stints at places such as Formaggio Grill, Café Julia, and Hy’s steakhouse, to the mix and you’ve the makings of a fabulous Chef... Chef Andy has built a menu that includes Prime Rib, fresh fish, and local produce complete with some tantalizing desserts, everyone is sure to enjoy! Reservations are not required. (Parties of 8 or more please inquire at 638-5864). Keep up to date by following us on Facebook or visiting www.waimeavalley.net.

They are also looking for volunteers to help with the Kauhale Restoration Project, which Waimea Valley Executive Director Richard Pezzulo talked about in this segment we did on our February show.

... With the plans completed, and the foundation set for the first two of eight hale that will comprise our Kauhale site, we are looking for volunteer groups that would be interested in participating in our organized workdays to complete this project. We have had participation from WCCC, the Pu’a Foundation and Hina Mauka in the gathering and preparation of the materials used under the tutelage of Uncle Frances Sinenci, our goal is to complete this project by September. If you are interested in participating in this effort please contact our Volunteer Coordinator, Athena Sparks at 808-638-5855 to learn more.

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For daily viewing times of this month's show, please visit www.CareerChangers.TV -- and don't forget, you can watch segments from past episodes as well on the CCTV YouTube Channel!

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Waimea Valley Closed for Repairs

January 7th, 2014
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One of our show sponsors, Waimea Valley, temporarily closed down the park as of Jan. 6 and plans on reopening Sat., Feb. 1. They will be doing rock slope scaling near the front entrance as a safety precaution while checking for stability of other rock formations and slopes that may require scaling measures. In addition, Executive Director Richard Pezzulo showed me some other things they're working on for the new year, which we'll be on the February episode of Career Changers TV.

First, the Proud Peacock restaurant should be open in February now that they have hired a new manager to run the once-popular eatery. He says it will be somewhere between casual and fine dining, with an emphasis on fresh local produce and meats. They're still working on completing the renovations, so we weren't able to get any photos or video of what the completed restaurant will look like yet.

Another new thing they're going to unveil is a hula competition in their recently renovated amphitheater. The twist is men and women will be competing against each other, which is how they used to do it there at Waimea Valley years ago. Besides that, Richard says they're looking into starting a North Shore film festival. Plus, they'll be continuing the summer concert series, which turned out to be a big hit with locals and visitors last year. Instead of taking the "Generations" theme approach though, they will use specific musical instruments as the theme for the three concerts. I'm guessing slack key guitar, ukelele... not sure what the third will be. Hawaiian steel guitar, perhaps?

During the temporary closing, their Haliewa Farmers' Market will continue on Thursdays from 3 to 7 PM in the front part of the park instead of the Pikake Pavilion. One of Richard's major goals for 2014 is to get locals to book the pavilion and other facilities at Waimea Valley for special events such as weddings, baby luaus, graduation parties and even business meetings or retreats. So far, he says it's been a bit of a tough sell because many people haven't considered the valley as an option before, and a lot of big family gatherings are planned long in advance. But if you or someone you know has a large party coming up, give them a call -- they're now offering all-inclusive packages to fit different budget ranges without nickle and dime add-on charges for every little thing. Here's their website link.

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Don't forget to check out the new January episode of Career Changers TV! Really good stories on the Hawaii Youth Symphony, Ashley Merryman's "Top Dog - The Science of Winning and Losing" book, plus  a piece on Roberta Oaks and her cool, retro-ish fashion boutique in Chinatown. For daily viewing times and links to the CCTV YouTube Channel, please visit www.CareerChangers.TV.

Save this date: Sunday, Nov. 24

November 6th, 2013
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The Pacific Gateway Center is having their 4oth Birthday Celebration on Sun., Nov. 24 from 5 to 9 PM at Keehi Lagoon Memorial Hall. There will be Asian Pacific cuisine, entertainment and a who's who list of movers and shakers that have helped PGC in their mission to assist thousands of immigrants, refugees and low income residents find work or start new businesses over the years. As part of the 808HALT coalition on human trafficking, I've had the privilege of working closely with the PGC staff and can tell you they truly make Hawaii a better place for all of us.

The cost is $45 per person, but if you can't attend, please visit their website (click here) or call them at 851-7010 to make a donation. In light of recent cutbacks due to sequestration and the government shutdown, like many non-profits, PGC has had to tighten their belts and make changes in their operations. Part of that was moving their offices from the N. King street location to their Kalihi kitchen incubator site. They turned over their Lemongrass Cafe restaurant to Andrew Le, who is transforming the space into his first brick and mortar version of The Pig & The Lady, which has been a hugely popular food stand at the KCC, Blaisdell and Kailua farmer's markets.

Not coincidentally, my new November episode of Career Changers TV features a segment about Andrew and how he went from an interest in art to formal culinary training -- after working for free at restaurants just to get some hands-on experience before he committed to making a career out of his passion for food. For him, it really is art on a plate. You can watch the small screen YouTube version by clicking here.

In the same show, we also have a great piece on maestro Matt Catingub and the Hawaii Pops (here's that link). We included some brief musical interludes from their "Songs of Bond... James Bond" concert, but I wish we had more time to include performances by Cathy Foy-Mahi, Kristina Souza, Nathan Awaeau, and Sheena Easton. They actually had to add extra seats for late-comers who bought tickets at the door. I suggest you check out their site, www.HawaiiPops.com and order tickets for the remaining concerts before those sell out too!

BTW, due to some technical problems, the Career Changers TV site still hasn't been updated for the November show. In the meantime, you can see segments from the current episode on the CCTV YouTube Channel (daily OC16 times listed on the website are still the same).

Menehunes Hoax, Miscellaneous News

August 26th, 2013
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Thanks to the internet and YouTube, this blog and video segments from my Career Changers TV show has led to contacts from all over the globe. TV producers from the Discovery Channel, Travel Channel, and Food Network have either emailed me or been in touch with people who appeared on CCTV to do their own pieces for national audiences. Sometimes they use my stuff as research or backstory, which is cool. But last week I got a good laugh when I opened this email:

Hello, Rich - I am a researcher with a television production company located in Hampton, Virginia called m2 Pictures. We produce a documentary-style series for the Destination American Channel called “Monsters and Mysteries in America.” Within each episode of this series, we explore accounts of monstrous and mysterious happenings throughout the United States.

In our research, we recently came across reported encounters with the Menehune, and were interested in featuring those stories in one of our upcoming episodes. In each episode we invite locals, experts, and those who have personal encounters to participate in on-camera interviews to help us tell the most complete and accurate story of each paranormal phenomenon. I recently came across an article you wrote for the Star Advertiser discussing the potential discovery of a Menehune Village by photographer Ann Thompson. I was wondering if you might be interested in speaking with me about your knowledge of the Menehune?

She was referring to my Star-Advertiser blog that was posted on April 1 (this one). Somehow, the date didn't tip her off that it was a prank (and a plug for my unproduced family/adventure script based on the Menehune myths and legends). After I replied to her, she wrote back that she felt a "bit foolish," but took it all in good spirits. What's more, she was going to follow up on some of my other suggested contacts who may wind up on that TV show to talk about their paranormal encounters.

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Speaking of local connections that have appeared on nationally-broadcast shows, I ran into Camille Komine of Camille's on Wheels food truck fame, at the annual Kailua Racquet Club Doubles Tournament last month. If you follow her on Twitter, you might have noticed she hasn't been Tweeting much about where she'll be next. That's because the club hired her to do their food service for  KRC members and tournament sponsors' dinners, which was a big hit. She's also been doing more private catering. In fact, she said Heidi Klum requested her to do all the cooking for Heidi's entourage when she was here in April (and got attention for saving her son from drowning). That was no April Fool's joke.

Camille has been featured on a couple of Food Network and Cooking Channel shows. The one she really enjoys talking about is Guy Fieri's Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives, otherwise known as Triple D. According to her, Guy's research staff does a very thorough job of vetting possible candidates for the program, and she was certain that the piece we did on her for Career Changers TV helped convince them she would be good on camera. Here's that video link from our growing YouTube archives.

I asked if the Kailua Racquet Club experience has given her the itch to open her own full-fledged restaurant. She smiled and said there are no immediate plans, but I got the feeling that if the right location comes along at the right time, we may see her trade in her wheels for something with four walls and a door.

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Also, keep your eyes open for a favorite of local foodies making their own move from farmers markets and pop-up kitchens to a new home once occupied by Pacific Gateway Center's Lemongrass Cafe on North King Street near Chinatown. Due to budget cutbacks, PGC is moving their offices to their Kalihi kitchen incubator location, and renting out the N. King Street space to bring in more revenue. An announcement should be coming in the next week or two about the new restaurant that I think is going to excite many folks.

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You can still catch the August episode of Career Changers TV daily on OC16 until Sat., Sept. 7. Click here for viewing times and links to the CCTV YouTube Channel. Got more great stories for September, including some scoops you won't see anywhere else. BTW, I'm lining up sponsors for the big Halloween show and Christmas episode, so send me an email if you're interested in advertising!