The Traveling Plate: A Fulfilling Opportunity
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“Sometimes they like the hats. The really tall white ones!”
So says Easter Seals Hawai’i administrative assistant Panui Shepard, as she describes one of the perks of Chefs Club, among the non-profit’s many programs.
Up to eight special needs participants from Easter Seals Hawai‘i plan menus, budget, shop, prepare and serve lunch five days a week, with meals like chili, soups, hot dogs, sandwiches and salads. They even take care of clean-up.
“Every lunchtime they get together; they glove up and put on their white aprons,” explains Shepard. “They do an excellent job serving their own peers.”
A number of them recently got to expand their culinary skills beyond Easter Seals to help a professional chef in the kitchen at Sugar Beach Events. Executive Chef Lee Anderson welcomed the helpers as they prepped a Brûlée Tomato dish together. Anderson’s background includes not only culinary arts, but also special education.
“I was fully prepared to have everything done, but when they got here, I saw their enthusiasm and excitement for trying it,” she says. “You can see how magical the kids are, and what an experience they get out of it. They did fantastic!”
The appetizer will be among those featured during a dinner hosted by Anderson on Sunday, August 7. Maui Now’s Malika Dudley will emcee the special fundraiser.
The Traveling Plate will bring some of Maui’s biggest names in the food scene together as part of a statewide culinary tour, which celebrates the 70th anniversary of Easter Seals Hawai‘i’s legacy in the islands. The organization empowers people with disabilities or special needs to achieve their goals and live independent, fulfilling lives.
Maui kicks off the tour on August 7 at Sugar Beach Events, located at 75 North Kīhei Road. Along with Anderson, notable chefs will include Top Chef Sheldon Simeon of Tin Roof, Executive Chef Isaac Bancaco of Andaz Maui at Wailea Resort, Executive Chef Jojo Vasquez of The Plantation House Restaurant and Executive Chef Eric Morrissette of Fleetwood’s on Front Street.
“I’m really excited to be on the ground floor of it here. Having all the wonderful, creative chefs come here to my space, I’m really excited to share this with them,” says Anderson. “I think it’s a great opportunity to have a lot of creative juices flowing. I’m excited to work with Isaac and Sheldon and a lot of the really great chefs here.”
The grazing-style dinner will run from 5:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. Tickets cost $75 per person, or $100 for VIP access, which gets you early entrance into the event at 4:30 p.m. along with a signature craft cocktail. See the Easter Seals Hawai’i website to book tickets and get more details.
The tour continues through September, with special culinary benefits on Kaua‘i, Hawai‘i Island and O‘ahu, all featuring local celebrity chefs and locally-sourced ingredients.