Island chefs don't just want to contribute cans of Vienna Sausage or SPAM to the Hawaii Foodbank's 23rd Annual Food Drive. They want to donate their own food, time and resources, according to D.K. Kodama of d.k Steak House and Sansei Seafood. So Kodama and fellow culinary luminaries have cooked up a way to help the nonprofit during “Great Chefs Fight Hunger.”

Modeled off the annual Taste of the NFL (National Football League), this benefit event raises awareness and monies for the hungry. It’s a goal that many Island chefs strongly support.

“Helping to provide hunger relief is one of my favorite causes,” says Kodama, who initiated this idea after participating in the Taste of the NFL. “All the participating chefs are doing this for the same reason; we all want to do our part to help the Foodbank.”

Scheduled for Saturday, March 31,  “Great Chefs Fight Hunger” will be again held at the Hawaii Foodbank warehouse, starting at 6 p.m. General admission is $125 or a premium package of 10 for $1,000, which includes free valet parking.

“Right now we have nine days of food supply compared to our average 15 to 17 days,” says Lori Kaya, the Foodbank’s grants and communications manager. “Food donations are trending downwards so we’re seeing a lot fewer donations, which means we have to buy food.”

Last week, House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-WI) unveiled his budget proposal for 2013. Like the House budget proposal for 2012, the plan would convert the Supplement Food Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly known as Food Stamps) into a “block grant” program. The likely result of this harmful proposal, which was estimated last year to cut funding by nearly 20 percent, or $127 billion over a decade, is that millions of people would lose their SNAP benefits, or see them significantly reduced.

Chef Chai Chaowasaree“We are deeply disappointed that the House Budget Committee has again proposed to cut and restructure SNAP in its spending proposal for 2013. With 1 in 6 Americans currently struggling to put food on the table, and millions of families unemployed or scraping by on reduced wages, SNAP and other federal nutrition programs provide a critical lifeline,” says Feeding America president and CEO Vicki Escarra in a released statement. “Rather than attempting to gut these programs, Congress should be focused on how to strengthen and protect them during this time of tremendous need. We must protect vulnerable families against hunger.”

According to findings reported in” Hunger in America 2010,” 183,500 different people in Hawaii, more than 14 percent of our population, receives emergency food assistance through the Hawaii Foodbank network. This represents an increase of 39 percent over the findings reported four years ago in “Hunger in America 2006,” which was based on data collected in 2005.

“It’s hard to say no when it comes to helping the hungry,” says Chai’s Island Bistro and Singha Thai Cuisine’s chef/owner Chai Chaowasaree (pictured right), who has participated in this event since its inception in 2005. “It’s a great cause and D.K.’s a good friend; so, I couldn’t say no.”

Other restaurants who said yes include 12th Avenue Grill, 3660 on the Rise, Beachhouse at the Moana, Henry Loui’s, Hilton Hawaiian Village, Himalayan Kitchen and Hokulani Bake Shop. The A-list of restaurant continues with Ola at Turtle Bay, P.F. Chang’s, The Pacific Club, Poke Stop, Roy’s, Ruth’s Chris, SALT Kitchen & Tasting Bar, Sam Choy’s Breakfast Lunch & Crab, Sansei Seafood Restaurant & Sushi Bar, Top of Waikiki, TOWN, Tropilicious Ice Cream & Sorbets, Waialua Soda Works, Y. Hata and Young’s Market.

In addition to the lineup of food stations, the evening will also feature assorted wines, beers and martinis, as well as live entertainment by Jazzy Jay, Kaukahi and Jon Osorio.

“This will really be a good chance to see how the Foodbank operates,” Chaowasaree says. “It’s just like walking into a Costco warehouse. They’ve got everything from canned goods to produce. But they can always use more and that’s why, as chefs, we’re all doing this.”

For tickets, call 836-3600, ext. 244 or online at

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From openings and closings to chefs and trends, Inside Scoop will keep readers updated on the latest in the restaurant/food industry. Simplicio has covered the local dining scene for more than 15 years, providing residents a taste of the islands. Follow him on Twitter@simplicio

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