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Culinary students taught Sushi 101 by D.K. Kodama
April 18, 2013 - Carla Tracy
Dave “D.K.” Kodama, the Oahu-based chef/owner of DK Restaurant Group, presented a culinary workshop Thursday for eager students in Maui Culinary Academy at UH Maui College’s campus in Kahului.
Kodama’s hands-on demonstration was a Center-of-the-Plate-Workshop under the sponsorship of the nonprofit Hawaii Culinary Education Foundation. The Master Class talk taught students the art of sushi making, trends in the restaurant business and Kodama’s culinary philosophy. The workshop concluded with a sushi tasting.
“As a chef, you get cut. You get burned. You’re not going to be Emeril Lagasse at the start,” Kodama told the students. “You have to pay your dues. Emeril did. I did. We all do.”
Kodama has come a long way from his early start as a fledgling sushi chef. He now owns and operates nine restaurants on three islands including four Sansei Seafood Restaurant & Sushi Bars (two on Maui); d.k. Steakhouse, VINO Italian Tapas & Wine Bar and Hiroshi Eurasion Tapas on Oahu; as well as Fish & Pasta in Kaanapali.
His restaurants have garnered rave reviews from Wine Spectator and Zagat Hawaii guide, inclusion in Bon Appetit’s “Favorite Asian Restaurants,” and Travel+Leisure’s “America’s Best Sushi Bars.”
A local boy from Aiea on Oahu, he enrolled in college to become a civil engineer like his father. But the culinary and traveling bugs bit him, and he spent three years in Seattle and a decade in Aspen, Colo., working his way through restaurants.
Kodama was instrumental in speaking to the Hawaii state legislature about funding for the state-of-the-art Paina Building, where Maui Culinary Academy is now housed. He also helped to design the Raw Fish Camp restaurant that features sushi there.
His other claims to fame include a cookbook, “D.K.’s Sushi Chronicles from Hawai'i: Recipes from Sansei Seafood Restaurant & Sushi Bar,” released nationally in January 2004 (Ten Speed Press, Berkeley); and a paperback edition released in 2009.
Kodama and his wife Lori live in Honolulu with their three children – Brie Ann, Chev, Cashel Bleu — all named after cheeses.
“I also call my dog Truffle, you know, cause he’s a funghi,” he told the students.
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Chef Dave "D.K." Kodama of Sansei Seafood & Sushi Bar fame (with knife) conducts a sushi workshop at Maui Culinary Academy with students Jaecie Williams (from left) Vanessa Castillo and Justin Firmignac watching.