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Lē’ahi Concept Kitchen Celebrates Grand Opening

Lē’ahi Concept Kitchen is the visionary model and ultimate mission statement of the Culinary Institute of the Pacific, the new both physical and scholastic arm of the Culinary Arts Program at Kapiolani Community College. The program is recognized for its placement in regional and national culinary competitions, its focus on promoting and using locally sourced ingredients in their contemporary cuisine, their fair market costs, their multi-industry alliances, and the alumni who have become outstanding and successful chefs.

“Learning and Earning” is the motto for this restaurant’s concept of having KCC’s culinary arts students extend their education through real work experience here in the dynamics of a fully operational food & beverage service environment. 

Replacing the opulent space that was formerly the highly acclaimed Nobu, located in the Waikiki Parc HotelLē’ahi Concept Kitchen is spearheaded by KCC alumni Chef Eddie Mafnas, while being overseen by Kapiolani Community College Culinary Arts Operations Manager John Mizokawa. 

On behalf of the Tasty Island, Yours Truly was invited to attend the official Lē’ahi Concept Kitchen VIP grand opening yesterday evening, Friday, May 26, 2017. Following is photo coverage, captions and commentary of the event. Enjoy. ;-)

Leahi Concept Kitchen is located in the Waikiki Park Hotel, located adjacent to the Halekulani and Sheraton Waikiki, right behind the Royal Hawaiian Shopping Center

Leahi Concept Kitchen dining room, formerly Nobu (that restaurant has since moved to the Waiea Luxury Residences in Kaka’ako, across Ward Theater)

Live pianist hammering out some instrumental Elton John

Following are sample plates that were served at the grand opening event: 

Big Island Macadamia Nuts & Garlic Brussel Sprouts with Maui Onion Lemon Vinaigrette, Soy Reduction and Smoked Bacon

Big Island Macadamia Nuts & Garlic Brussel Sprout

Waipoli Mixed Greens with Maui Surfing Goat Chevre, Waiawa Roasted Beets, Ho Farms Tomato, Cucumber, Heart of Palm and Ewa Onion Vinaigrette

Waipoli Mixed Greens

Spicy Ahi Wonton Tacos with Fresh Island Ahi, White Cabbage Slaw and Chili Aioli

Spicy Ahi Wonton Tacos

Spicy Ahi Wonton Tacos

wa Sweet Corn Tamale Cakes with Ho Farms Tomato Salsa, Spiced Sour Cream and Avocado Puree

Ewa Sweet Corn Tamale Cakes

Ewa Sweet Corn Tamale Cakes

Mini Beef Tenderloin & Hamakua Mushroom with Port Wine and Big Island Butter Crust, Ulu and Garlic Mashed Potato over a Hawaiian Ranchers Demi

Mini Beef Tenderloin & Hamakua Mushroom

Mini Beef Tenderloin & Hamakua Mushroom

Kauai Black Pepper Shrimp with Black Pepper Sauce, Big Island Honey and Local Apple Cooking Bananas

Leahi Concept Kitchen Executive Chef Eddie Mafnas presents their Kauai Black Pepper Shrimp

Kauai Black Pepper Shrimp (Chef’s cooking demo’ version)

Fresh Island Catch, Panko-crusted with Ewa Corn Succutash, Okinawan Sweet Potato and Miso Sake Butter Sauce

Fresh Island Catch, Panko-crusted with Ewa Corn Succutash

Strictly for this grand opening party, complimentary drinks were served, including Miller Lite, Heineken, Veramonte La Gloria Sauvignon Blanc 2011, Pleasures O.C.V. Chardonnay 2012 and C&B Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon 2012 (<–my choice!). Note, Leahi currently does not serve alcohol beverages to regular guests. It’s BYOB. 

Kona Coffee Panna Cotta

Haupia Filled Malasada with Guava Consume, Seasonal Tropical Fruit, Yuzu Bavaroise and Strawberry Sour Ice Cream

Kapiolani Community College Culinary Innovation Center Butter Mochi Crisps

Sean Morris, President of Advertising Associates International with Kelly Simek, morning weather anchor @ KHON2 News

Turtle Bay Resort Executive Chef James Aptakin (formerly Executive Chef @ Hilton Waikiki Beach) with John Richards, Kapiolani Community College Dean of Hospitality, Business and Legal Academic Programs

Chef James Aptakin with Julie Arigo, General Manager of the Waikiki Parc Hotel

Chef James Aptakin with Tasty Island Honolulu Food Blogger Pomai Souza and Kapiolani Community College Culinary Arts Pastry Instructor David Brown

Kapiolani Community College Culinary Arts Operations Manager John Mizokawa with Leahi Concept Kitchen Executive Chef Eddie Mafnas and one of his many cherished crew members

And? OMG, every dish — and I mean EVERY DISH — was absolutely FANTASTIC! The most  notable standouts for me being the Mac Nut Brussel Sprouts and Ewa Sweet Corn Tamale Cakes. AWESOMENESS! In fact, so awesome, Turtle Bay Executive Chef James Aptakin was trying to convince the staff to give him the recipes! For reals! But they didn’t budge. lol 

Everyone working here are very obviously truly passionate about what they do and the food they present. It really, really shows. Me now as a seasoned food blogger, I notice those things. Trust me. And it’s comforting to know the folks behind each and every dish here are highly educated by one of the most respected programs in the business over at Kapiolani Community College’s Culinary Arts program. Not just if you support higher education in this field, but also if you simply want an incredible dining experience, I, highly highly recommend you check out the new Le’ahi Concept Kitchen in Waikiki, supporting the KCC Culinary Arts. Excellent!

Lē’ahi Concept Kitchen
in the Waikiki Parc Hotel
2233 Helumoa Road (right across the Halekulani and Sheraton Waikiki, near Lewers Street)
Waikiki Parc Hotel
Honolulu, Hawaii  96815

Tel. (808) 762-2220


Related links:
Lē’ahi Concept Kitchen – Yelp user reviews

2 thoughts on “Lē’ahi Concept Kitchen Celebrates Grand Opening

  • May 29, 2017 at 3:51 pm

    Love the concept. I am a couple blocks away.  Might meander down there.

  • May 31, 2017 at 4:00 pm


    June 3, 2017
    12pm-3pm @
    Island Olive Oil (Ward Center)
    Come and support the KCC Culinary Team as they prepare to head for the national championships!

    Free samples and meet the team members!
    • Crispy pork belly with jalapeño lime sweet and sour, pomegranate caviar and Thai basil.
    • Honey-Ginger glazed koroneiki extra virgin olive oil cake with candied grapefruit and lemon thyme
    • Pistachio ice cream with pistachio blood orange olive oil tuile….and more!

    Sales from Island Olive Oil to to support the team. 

    For more information, please visit IslandOliveOil.com


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