It’s been a few weeks since Hawai‘i Agricultural Foundation’s EAT THINK DRINK: School Lunch – Hawai‘i’s Farm to School Initiative, but we can’t stop thinking about it. That’s how you know you found a movement that deserves traction—it somehow finds its way back into your mind, circulating your thoughts days, weeks or even months down the road.

EAT THINK DRINK invited nine prominent chefs and speakers to take the stage at The Modern Honolulu on April 25 to start a conversation on the importance of healthy school lunches. More so, how do school lunch trays move from frozen, prepared food to fresh, locally sourced ingredients? There are countless studies and articles that outline the benefits of feeding children nutritious, plant-based lunches to promote healthy mind and brain activity, combat childhood obesity and teach kids about a healthy diet. Outside of these articles, it’s pretty simple: we need to raise the standards when it comes to what schools are feeding kids for lunch for the sake of their health. Swapping out those deep-fried, processed foods for organic, beneficial dishes shouldn’t be a luxury—it should be the norm.


Denise Yamaguchi, executive director for Hawai‘i Agricultural Foundation.

“The purpose of this event is to create a network of our younger generation consumers who care about the wellbeing of the community and want to spark positive, long-lasting change,” says executive director for Hawai‘i Agricultural Foundation Denise Hayashi Yamaguchi. “With each series, we hope to inspire more people to join our #ONOREVOLUITON and build a collective of consumers who are committed to building access to fresh, local foods and create more resilient communities throughout the islands.”

Chef Ann Cooper

The quarterly EAT THINK DRINK series, which launched in November 2016, featured keynote speaker Chef Ann Cooper at its spring 2017 school lunch-themed event. The Colorado-based chef spearheads the healthy school lunch movement with the Chef Ann Foundation, and was joined on stage with fellow advocates JuliAnna Arnett of the USDA Food and Nutrition Service, Chef Greg Christian of the Organic School Project and Dexter Kishida of the State of Hawai‘i Department of Education.

Left to right: Chef Ann Cooper, JuliAnna Arnett, Chef Greg Christian, Dexter Kishida, the event’s emcee

Guests were treated to four chefs’ samplings of what a healthy school lunch looks like to them, plated and served on retro school lunch-style trays. Chef Randy Bangloy of Eating House 1849 – Kapolei Commons served short rib luau with roasted Mao baby carrots, ‘ulu mac salad, Kahumana mix greens with tofu and a haupia float. Chef Ronnie Nasuti of Tiki’s Grill & Bar served up a teriyaki Maui Nui venison slider with a taro bun, Nalo herb baked mac and cheese, Deans Greens and li hing mui fruit. Chef Matt Young of Hula Grill Waikiki served roasted kobocha with farro, kale and long beans, coconut curry braised ‘ulu, chili lime rubbed papaya and kulolo. Lastly, Chef Keith Pajinag of The Modern Honolulu served a taro pizza with house ground sausage, cold somen salad with smoked mahi, junior romaine lettuce wedge with buttermilk dressing and ‘ulu bread pudding with Hilo orange glaze.

Chef Randy Bangloy of Eating House 1849 – Kapolei Commons’ short rib luau with roasted Mao baby carrots, ‘ulu mac salad, Kahumana mix greens with tofu and a haupia float

Chef Matt Young of Hula Grill Waikiki’s roasted kobocha with farro, kale and long beans, coconut curry braised ‘ulu, chili lime rubbed papaya and kulolo

Chef Keith Pajinag of The Modern Honolulu’s taro pizza with house ground sausage, cold somen salad with smoked mahi, junior romaine lettuce wedge with buttermilk dressing and ‘ulu bread pudding with Hilo orange glaze

Chef Ronnie Nasuti of Tiki’s Grill & Bar’s teriyaki Maui Nui venison slider with a taro bun, Nalo herb baked mac and cheese, Deans Greens and li hing mui fruit

It’s been less than a year since EAT THINK DRINK has been around, but it’s already showing how good things happen when communities gather to eat, think and drink. For more information on Hawaii Agricultural Foundation and EAT THINK DRINK, join the #ONOREVOLUTION at onorevolution.com. To see HILuxury’s live coverage of the event, head to our Twitter to see live tweets from the night of the event.

All photos courtesy Hawaii Agricultural Foundation.