PSD NEWS RELEASE – WCCC and Kapiolani Community College holds Culinary Arts Program Graduation Luncheon at women’s prison.

Posted on Dec 7, 2022 in Latest Department News, Newsroom

HONOLULU — The culinary class made up of three female inmates at the Women’s Community Correctional Center (WCCC) graduated today from the Kapiolani Community College (KCC) Culinary Arts Program. To celebrate they put on a special luncheon at the Kailua facility, featuring some of the savory and sweet, 5-star quality cuisine they have learned to create.  The class is taught by Chef Lee Shinsato of Kapiolani Community College.

“It took them a while to figure out that they are actually University of Hawaii college students and one of the most important things they ended up learning is to really believe in themselves,” said KCC Chef Lee Shinsato. “I always say this. We mold and turn out better human beings that happen to have awesome cooking skills. I believe anybody can cook, anybody can learn something but when you get the connection between the head and the heart, that’s a really big deal.”

The women worked their way through beginner, intermediate and advance level classes to make it to graduation day. They received a culinary program completion certificate from the Kapiolani Community College and also earned 14 credits that will appear in their University of Hawaii transcripts.

“The culinary field is looking to hire, and this program is giving these women valuable and relevant job skills that can help them find instant employment when they leave,” said WCCC Warden Sean Ornellas.  “We thank Chef Shinsato and the Kapiolani Community College for introducing this program to WCCC, giving the women a positive career path to pursue and teaching them teamwork, professionalism, and self-esteem.”

The students not only learned the basics of culinary arts but also the skills that accompany a rigorous college course, such as: time management, study habits, completing assignments, and the importance of showing up.

““When we say that education is transformative, this program is exactly that. It changes students’ lives,” said Kapiʻolani Community College Chancellor Louise Pagotto. “The transformative power of education is visible in the faces of these students as they prepare and serve the food.”

Anyone who does not complete the final, advanced stage of certification before they leave the facility can choose to continue their culinary training at KCC.

Graduation Luncheon Menu:

Zucchini Roll-up Salad & Potato Leek Soup

Mini Okonomiyaki

Mini BLT Naan Bread

Mini Pork Laualu

Koala Moa w/ Argentinian Chimichurri Sauce

Banh Mi Pot Stickers & Somen

Ube Cheesecake Swirls

Coffee Infused Brownies

Pictured: The three graduates (left to right – Brysha Brown, Crystal Lawelawe and Kiana Kalima) behind one of their à la minute food stations.

Second picture includes the graduates with their culinary assistants (previous program graduates) and their chef instructors Warren Uchida (far left) and Lee Shinsato (far right).

Soundbites from Chef Lee Shinsato, video and more pictures can be found here:

Toni Schwartz
Public Information Officer
Hawaii Department of Public Safety
Office: 808-587-1358
Cell: 808-683-5507
[email protected]