Staradvetiser - Joleen Oshiro
While funds for building Waipahu High School’s upcoming facility were released long before the pandemic, future budgets will likely be slashed. How will a program like culinary manage to round out its new kitchen with professional equipment?
Enter Kelvin Ro, owner of Diamond Head Market & Grill and a 1980 Waipahu graduate.
Ro, one of the school’s many supporters, has fundraising chops. He hopes to raise money for equipment such as ice machines, a flash freezer, freeze drying equipment and a smoker, items from culinary teacher Elaine Matsuo’s wish list.
What does she want most?
“I want all of it,” she said firmly. “I want the kids to learn how to use everything.”
Ro’s ties to the culinary program go back to 1995, when he was dispatched by an old high school math teacher to help Matsuo, then a fledgling culinary teacher, invigorate Waipahu’s program. His plan: Marauder Cafe.
“The room next door to my classroom — the current cafe — was a science classroom,” Matsuo said. “Kelvin told me to go get permission to take the room. He said, ‘We’re gonna open a restaurant.’”
Matsuo recalled that the science class was relegated to the school library every time the restaurant opened. Eventually, the room was reassigned to culinary.
Ro helped run the cafe for two years before he handed it back to Matsuo. In the years since, he helped raise funds to build the Culinary Institute of the Pacific at Diamond Head.
Now he wants to do the same for his alma mater.