Introducing the Kanaka Culinary Arts Diploma


Read this article in ʻŌlelo Hawaiʻi

By Dr. Kū Kahakalau

A gateway for young Hawaiians to enter Hawaiʻi’s food industry tuition-free

EA Ecoversity prepares for the Summer 2024 launch of Kanaka Culinary Arts, an ʻŌiwi-based, tuition-free, two-year training program preparing young Hawaiians, ages 15-30, for a career in culinary arts, focusing on cooking traditional and modern Hawaiian foods.

As a culture-based, post-secondary career training program, Kanaka Culinary Arts centers on learning how to prepare healthy Hawaiian cuisine, employing Hawaiian food preparation techniques and presentation styles, using kalo, ʻuala, ʻulu, seafood and other locally sourced ingredients. In addition, learners acquire strong foundations in Hawaiian language, protocol, and cultural traditions and practices relating to food.

EA Ecoversity’s Kanaka Culinary Arts program combines asynchronous, culture-based online learning and hands-on intern- and extern-ships, as learners gain the culinary skills necessary to enter or advance in Hawaiʻi’s food industry. This innovative combination of theory and practice allows learners to acquire culture-based culinary concepts, as well as hands-on career experiences, as they learn basic cooking techniques, practice their cooking skills and work in a real-world environment with Hawaiian culinary experts, which is a huge plus for their career.

Upon successful completion of the Kanaka Culinary Arts program, which requires about 15 hours per week for four semesters, learners will receive a Kanaka Culinary Arts Diploma from EA Ecoversity, also validated by Hawaiian industry experts and the Kamehameha Schools (KS).

Thanks to EA Ecoversity’s for-profit sponsor Kū-A-Kanaka LLC, as well as support from KS Kaiāulu, Spectrum and the Mellon Foundation, there is no tuition. In addition, travel to and accommodations on Hawaiʻi Island once per semester to participate in three-day internships will be paid for.

As a blended, or hybrid culinary training program, Kanaka Culinary Arts aims to get learners immersed in Hawaiʻi’s culinary industry as quickly as possible, which includes pairing students with a chef mentor, providing hands-on industry experiences, and assisting with job placement.

“As Hawaiʻi’s first independent, culture-based, post-secondary micro-credentialing program, EA Ecoversity is grateful for the support of Hawaiian industry experts, who validate our micro-credentials, serve as guest chefs, mentors and internship providers, and help our learners reach their highest potential,” said Pōlani Kahakalau-Kalima, EA Ecoversity executive director.

Research shows that employment of chefs and others working in Hawaiʻi’s food industry continues to grow faster than the average for all occupations. In addition, there is a great shortage of eating places on every island serving Hawaiian food. This makes it a great time to register for the EA Ecoversity Kanaka Culinary Arts program, scheduled to launch in the summer of 2024, and prepare for an exciting career in Hawaiʻi’s food industry, either as a self-employed entrepreneur or working in a commercial kitchen.

Space is limited!

Self-motivated young Hawaiians, ages 15-30, serious about joining our first cohort to prepare for a career in Hawaiʻi’s food industry are asked to click the link below and fill out our interest form by March 15, 2024. Hawaiian industry experts interested in supporting our ʻōpio, please contact Kū Kahakalau at to schedule a ZOOM call.