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Aloha from the Hamakua side of the Big Island of Hawai'i.

I have loved to cook from the age of 14, and through the years have participated in many cooking classes and demonstrations both as a student and a teacher.

Since 1980 I have owned and operated cooking schools or kitchen/gourmet shops, both in
South Carolina and Florida. Our last venture, the Akaka Falls Inn, was a bed-and-breakfast-cooking school combination, which was located in the quaint village of Honomu.

Our cooking school evolved due to our interest in, and involvement with, locally grown produce and products. My cooking style has been called "hapa" by Bob McGarvey, a writer for Islands Magazine out of Santa Barbara, California, who attended and participated in one of our four-day cooking programs in June of 1999. His article appeared in the Jan/Feb 2000 issue of Islands Magazine.

A chance business trip to the Orient in 1979 resulted in my participation in a week of intensive cooking classes at the Wei Chuan Cooking School in Taipei, Taiwan. This totally revolutionized my cooking style. At the time I was living in South Carolina where I had learned to cook "Southern Style."

Food seems to be very much ingrained in my genetic make-up. In my native Cuba it is customary to share whatever you might have with visitors in your home. No family gathering or celebration is complete without the sharing of food.

My Cuban grandmother was known for setting a generous table; and at every meal she managed to have everyone's favorite dishes. It was not unusual for 10 people to sit at a table that featured at least 10 different dishes, her way of being sure that everyone would have something that they particularly enjoyed!

On my American side, my mother's family is from Atlanta and all of us are well acquainted with the meaning of the term "Southern Hospitality."

I have been living in Hawai'i for the last 21 years, where I have found food to be also a very important part of any gathering, helping break down barriers that might arise from the diversity of the ethnic groups that have chosen to call these islands home. I like to compare being invited to a local potluck with experiencing the benefits of an international culinary education!

I hope you enjoy my approach to food, which is a blending of my own ethnic and cultural heritages mixed in with those of my adopted home.