Successful chef shares tips with students

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 the University of Hawaii 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.

“D.K. was instrumental in speaking to the Hawaii state Legislature about funding our Paina Building,” said Chris Speere, external coordinator for Maui Culinary Academy, which is housed there. “He also helped to design our Raw Fish Camp restaurant downstairs. He’s a chef who really gives back to the community.”