Culinary students win Aloun Farms Mahi’ai Culinary Competition


Brianna Melchor

Competition winners (left to right) Carmela Alejandro, Shania Nicolas, Daiden Oshiro, and Jhon Asuncion.

Waipahu Culinary students Daiden Oshiro, Jhon Asuncion, Carmela Alejandro, and Shania Nicolas competed in the 9th annual Aloun Farms Mahi’ai Culinary Competition on Sept. 9. Partners Oshiro and Asuncion were the first place winners of $2,500 in scholarship money. 

The competition allowed students from Waipahu, Kapolei, Nanakuli, Waianae, Farrington, Leilehua, and Moanalua high schools to compete for scholarship funds toward each school’s culinary program. Aloun Farms hosted this year’s competition at Kapolei High School. Chef Lee Alan Dung, Councilman Augie Tulba, and Chef Alan Wong judged the competition. 

The Waipahu culinary students practiced after school with guidance from their teachers in order to perfect their recipes and dishes. Team 1, Oshiro and Asuncion, came up with a Kauai shrimp ravioli with a base of ratatouille and beurre blanc sauce. Team 2, Alejandro and Nicolas, came up with a portobello mushroom and zucchini pasta with a poached egg and kabocha pumpkin sauce to top it off. 

Partners Nicolas and Alejandro were equally excited and nervous as it was their first competition.

Winners Oshiro and Asuncion also expressed how they felt before the competition. Asuncion wanted to take this competition as a way to learn and improve his cooking skills, while Oshiro took a different approach to the competition.   

“Looking at the competition and what the schools had to offer last year, they were on some high level stuff. So seeing that and trying to compete with it is kind of intimidating,” Oshiro says.

Now that he and his partner are first place winners, Oshiro says, “I now feel pretty confident in my cooking skills because when we were entering the competition and when we were preparing for it, there were always these doubts in the back of my head, like what if I’m not good enough? I proved myself wrong…and it feels nice to have that kind of proof that I can do what I want, if I put my mind, the hard work, and dedication into it.”

Oshiro then went on to say that this win is not the end for Waipahu Culinary, but that it’s just a milestone, and that they’re only going to accomplish and achieve bigger things.