Thursday | October 19, 2017
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Let’s Talk Food: 16th annual Hilo Culinary Classic

Hollyn Johnson, the photographer for the Hawaii Tribune-Herald, did a wonderful job taking photos at the 16th annual Hilo Culinary Classic on Friday, April 4, which were featured in the Tuesday, April 8, Grinds section. Her photos made all entries look so tantalizing!

I can see the caliber of their work getting better each year and it showed as the most gold medals were given out this year than in previous years.

Winning first place in the Student and Overall Divisions was Sarah Ruesing from Hawaii Community College’s Hilo Campus.

The photo of Sarah with her winning cake could not possibly do justice for all the intricate and detailed work. After all, in three days, she might have slept no more than 3 hours!

Sarah was born and raised in Kaumana, went to E.B. DeSilva Elementary, Christian Liberty School and graduated from Hilo High School. While at Hilo High School, she developed a love for ceramics and spent many hours in Sandy Shigeta’s ceramics class. She credits her winning cake to what she learned in that ceramics class. You had to see it in her work — the tiniest forks, spoons, perfectly formed and only an inch in size.

Sarah left Hilo to find her dream on Oahu. She was not into baking much, but when she was pregnant with her son, she watched “Cake Boss” and decided to bake a Christmas cake, frosting it with fondant. For a first try, it was pretty good and that sparked her desire to go into decorating cakes.

Sarah returned to Hilo, entered the Hawaii Community College Culinary Program and the rest is history as the fruits of her hard work and perseverance paid off when she won first-place honors.

Sarah and some of her senior classmates are available for employment from May 17, so call the college office if you are interested in hiring them.


Easter Sunday is this weekend and preparations should start today. If your menu includes frozen turkey or ham, purchase them today and start thawing in the refrigerator.

A whole boneless leg of lamb will be about 8 to 9 pounds and will feed at least 24-30 people.

Grilled Butterflied Leg of Lamb with Herbs

Remove from netting:

One 8-9 pound boneless leg of lamb

Discard the netting, trim all the fat and place the meat between plastic wrap. With a heavy metal mallet, pound the lamb to a uniform thickness, about 1 inch thick.

Mix together and add to lamb, turn to coat:

• 3/4 cup dry red wine (Harold Ohata always says use the wine you would also drink)

• 1/2 cup fresh lemon juice

• 1/2 cup minced basil leaves

• 2 tablespoons sugar

• 1 tablespoon fresh or 2 teaspoons dried rosemary

• 1 tablespoon fresh or 2 teaspoons dried oregano

Cover and seal, marinating overnight in refrigerator.

Cut into 1/2 inch slices, then crosswise into half rounds one large onion. Thinly slice two large garlic cloves. Lift the meat from the marinate, reserving the liquid. Lay meat flat, boned side up. Cut slits about 1/2 inch deep and as wide as the onion slices all over the meat. Place garlic and onion slices in the slits. Lay all over the top of the lamb a 1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese.

Carefully roll the lamb, lengthwise, tie with kitchen twine tightly to be sure the cheese does not fall out. Place in baking pan and roast at 350 degrees for 1-1/2 hours (depending on thickness of the roll) until the internal temperature reaches 155 degrees for rare.

Allow to rest after removing from oven. Slice after 10 minutes.


Foodie bites:

The leg of the lamb is chewy with tough tendons. Pounding it breaks down the tendons and helps tenderize the meat. Roasting lamb to rare-medium-rare is recommended. Overcooking to well-done is not recommended.

The Hawaii Community College Bamboo Hale will feature the foods of the Philippines this week. Call 934-2591 for reservations from 11a.m.-1:30 p.m.

Mark your calendars with the following dates:

• April 25: Deadline for the Triple C Recipe Contest set for Sunday, May 4. Find contest details at

• Friday, May 2: 5:30–9 p.m. Pa‘ina Open House at historic Pahala Plantation House with the Ka‘u Chamber of Commerce and Ka‘u Calendar. Call 928-9811 for more information.

• Saturday, May 3: Taste Success, the fourth annual Farmers’ Table at Kalaekilohana Inn and Retreat, featuring locally sourced fine dining, premium live entertainment. Tickets are $75 at

• Sunday, May 4 : Rotary Club of South Hilo’s Hilo Huli at Coconut Island, 11:30 a.m.–2 p.m. Call (808) 635-3649, Jack Stevenson, for more information.

• Sunday May 4: Triple C Recipe Contest with competition in cookies, candies and cakes at noon, all made with provided Ka‘u coffee. Entry form information available at

• Sunday, May 4: 2014-15 Ka‘u Coffee and junior Miss Ka‘u Peaberry Pageant. A mahalo party for the reigning queens is at 6 p.m. followed by the pageant at 6:30 p.m. Admission is $10.

The tax accountants and preparers must be celebrating today as it is Tax Day, April 15!

Please feel free to email me at if you have a question. Bon appetit until next week.


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