If you’ve ever dreamed of making your own kim chee or creating your own line of jam, University of Hawaii Maui College is offering a new program at their Maui Food Innovation Center (MFIC) designed to make you an expert. It’s called Master Food Preservers. It starts Aug. 25. and runs through Sept. 23.
“The class is a certificate program out of UC Davis,” says Chris Speere, the MFIC site coordinator. “It’s similar to our Master Gardener Program. Participants go through a curriculum. Over 64 hours, they learn how to do jellies and jams, dehydration of fruits, high and low acid pickling and canning, and new fabrication in sausage-making. These are really great skills to learn–and learn correctly–because you want to do it the right way. It’s really exciting because I think our food community wants to take on some of the traditions of the past and learn how to capture bumper crops. If we have an abundance of guava, we make guava jelly. If there’s a big mango season, we make chutney. What we’re hoping to do with these classes is build a cadre of community members that really understand these skills. One of the obligations when you graduate from the program is that you go out into the community and share your knowledge with 20 hours of volunteer services.”
The class will be taught by tropical fruit expert Ken Love. The class will also teach knife skills, basic food science, meat curing and proper sanitation.
“Ken Love has really great credentials,” says Speere. “He’s the director for the Tropical Fruit Growers of Hawaii. He travels the world identifying and searching out exotic fruits. He’s known as one of the leading fruit foragers of the world. He knows how to can or jelly or preserve all of our exotic plants.”
Speere says the food manufacturing sector is huge, but in Hawaii, we’re a long way from developing that.
“What we want to do with the Food Innovation Center is provide the facility, the educational programs and services like coaches and mentors for small businesses,” he says. “We’re also going to do some pop-up events to find experts to have them provide training and new skills. We’re starting from ground zero in Hawaii when it comes to the food manufacturing industry. We want to reverse our reliance on imported foods by being able to create more locally originating foods in the marketplace.”
What’s more, Speere says that the food manufacturing space across the country is dominated by women.
“What’s really interesting is the specialty food space in our nation is being dominated by women, and we see that here on Maui,” he says. “Women are the ones that are stepping forward and creating very neat specialty foods. We have things like macadamia nut hummus, cookies, donuts, kim chee, nut milks and nori crackers–all made by women. Out of the two training programs that we’ve held this year, 90 percent were women. Overall research in the US is showing that women-owned businesses are on the rise. There are 11.3 million women-owned businesses in the nation that employ nine million people and create $1.6 billion in our economy in food manufacturing.”
Those who complete the course will earn a Hawaii Food Handlers Certification. There are eight days of classes, and it takes place on Thursdays and Fridays from 8am to 4pm. And if you’re not into food manufacturing, the Maui Food Innovation Center will also launch a few other non-certification culinary classes next month.
“I just started to roll out short-term specialized training classes,” says Speere. “I have a series starting in September. One will be on bento and how to make them. I have a master chef from Japan that lives here in Hawaii that will teach a course on sashimi. These will be three-hour courses with demonstration and tasting. I will have a class on uncovering the mystery of sous vide cookery–why chefs use it and how you can apply it to your home cooking. I think people will really respond to that class. I also have a class coming up on bratwurst and beer, around Octoberfest. It will show safe preparation, and then obviously the joy of matching a nice beer to it.”
This past year, the MFIC also had an business accelerator program with two graduating classes. They will resume next year with a focus on agribusiness and chefs.
To sign up for classes or find more information go to Edventuremaui.com or call 808-984-3690. If you have questions about the curriculum you can email Chris Speere at [email protected] For more info on the Maui Food Innovation Center, visit Maui.hawaii.edu/foodinnovation.
For those interested a $100 tuition reimbursement is available for the MFP class on Maui upon registration and payment. The scholarship is based on financial need. Scholarship inquiries can be directed to my email at [email protected]