Culinary Schools in Hawaii
Hawaii's cuisine is distinctive and multi-layered, the product of the blending of disparate cultural influences over hundreds of years of migration and settlement. Rachel Laudan, author of "The Food of Paradise," describes Hawaiian cuisine as the result of four waves of influence: Pacific Islanders who arrived by sea in the third century A.D., bringing with them edible plants such as taro, breadfruit, sweet potatoes, yams, coconut, and sugarcane; the European explorers who reached the islands in the 1700s, bringing cattle and establishing pineapple and sugarcane plantations; and the migration of Chinese, Japanese, Portuguese, Koreans, Filipinos, and Southeast Asians who came primarily to work on the plantations.
The fourth wave is Hawaii's own distinctive cuisine, an "East-West-Pacific food," which Hawaiians refer to as local food. Local food traces its origins to the 1920s and '30s and is centered around the plate lunch: an entree of meat or seafood, two scoops of white rice, and macaroni salad. Other hallmarks of local food include spam, teriyaki, poke, loco moco (hamburger patties served with gravy and two eggs), saiman (a noodle soup dish with meat or dumplings), and lau lau (steamed fish and pork wrapped in taro leaves and a ti leaf).
The Advantages of Culinary Arts Schools in Hawaii
Hawaii's geographic isolation and diverse cultural influences give it one of the richest culinary heritages in the United States. Attending a culinary school in Hawaii could allow students to learn about a completely unique and fascinating cuisine, as well as study the ethnic and mainland American cuisines that also make their presence felt on the islands. Culinary students in Hawaii may build a vast repertoire of skills that serve them in whatever culinary careers they choose to pursue, whether they choose to work as chefs, start their own cafes or bakeries, educate others about nutrition as nutritionists or dietitians, or simply enrich their own lives with their expanded knowledge of Hawaiian cooking and nutrition.
Hawaii Culinary Employment Outlook
On a national scale, the Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that job opportunities for chefs will remain more or less fixed at their current level through 2020 (bls.gov/ooh). As is the case now, chef positions will continue to be available, but the most lucrative and prestigious positions at high-end restaurants, casinos, and hotels will likely stay competitive. However, certain niches within the culinary industry are set to experience growth. An emphasis on local foods is all the rage in the culinary world, and the National Restaurant Association rated "locally sourced meat and seafood" and "locally grown produce" as the top two menu trends in its "What's Hot in 2013" forecast report. Other top trends on its list included "environmental sustainability as a culinary theme," children's nutrition, new cuts of meat, and hyper-local sourcing. Aspiring chefs or other culinary job seekers who want to increase their chances of success in today's job market would do well to prepare themselves for this shift towards local sourcing and sustainability.
Culinary Wages in Hawaii
The following are average salary estimates for culinary jobs in Hawaii and in the U.S. as a whole, based on the Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Employment Statistics report from May 2012. Salaries for culinary positions in Hawaii are generally higher than nationwide averages:
While a career as a chef may not be easy, rewarding career opportunities could be available for those who seek them. For those who think a chef's lifestyle isn't for them, culinary schools in Hawaii may prepare them for an exciting array of other opportunities in the culinary world.
Bureau of Labor Statistics, "Chefs and Head Cooks," March 29, 2012, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/food-preparation-and-serving/chefs-and-head-cooks.htm
Bureau of Labor Statistics, "Hawaii - May 2012 OES State Occupational Employment and Wage Estimates," March 29, 2013, http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes_hi.htm#35-0000
Bureau of Labor Statistics, "May 2012 National Occupational Employment and Wage Estimates," March 29, 2013, http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes_nat.htm#35-0000
Google Books, "The Food of Paradise: Exploring Hawaii's Culinary Heritage," Rachel Laudan, University of Hawaii Press, 1996, http://books.google.com/books?id=ZnsTxepydfQC&printsec=frontcover#v=onepage&q&f=false