Maui Culinary Academy teaches math through cooking

Maui College
Emily R. Sullivan, (808) 984-3549
Director of Marketing and Community Relations, Marketing
Chris Speere, (808) 344-1766
External Program Coordinator, Maui Culinary Academy
Posted: Jun 7, 2011

From left to right, Joy Cabatu, Joanne Kong and Nalani Caulford.
From left to right, Joy Cabatu, Joanne Kong and Nalani Caulford.
Marilyn Pascher from Haiku Elementary learns how to chop ratios.
Marilyn Pascher from Haiku Elementary learns how to chop ratios.

High school and grade school teachers from around the island of Maui recently experienced a three-day “hands-on” training program at University of Hawai‘i Maui College's Maui Culinary Academy (MCA) that was designed to explore Applied Math skills necessary for a career in the culinary arts. The teachers practiced and applied math principles related to fundamental cookery and food presentation within a professional kitchen setting.

“The students always ask us, ‘Why do I need to know this?’,” said Marilyn Pascher, a teacher at Haiku Elementary. “The more answers we have, the more they trust us.”

The idea of introducing Department of Education (DOE) teachers to hands-on activities that relate to math and real world culinary experiences was proposed by Glen Oura of the DOE. Chris Speere, external program coordinator at MCA developed the curriculum and the training program for the workshop.

Maui Culinary Academy Chef Instructor Dean Louie was responsible for leading the teachers through numerous culinary activities that enhanced their cookery skills and understanding of culinary math.

“Chef Dean helped us learn about ratios and portioning and professional cutting techniques. He explained that even the smallest task such as the sharpening of knives integrates math, through the use of proper angles,” said Lynette Zakazi from Lokelani School.

The teachers were “thrown into the fire” and started cooking from day one. Using the Taste of Maui, Favorite Recipes From the Maui Culinary Academy as their textbook the group prepared a variety of delicious dishes each day, which were critiqued by Chef Louie in “Iron Chef” fashion on taste, presentation, correct portioning and profitability.

"The teachers in the workshop were extremely pleased with the learning outcomes and practical skills they acquired to help teach their students the relevance of math in everyday life situations," said Oura, DOE project coordinator. "We hope to continue our partnership with MCA by offering this workshop during the winter holiday and again next summer.”

The project was made possible through a grant from the Maui Math Professional Development Project. For more information on the Maui Culinary Academy call (808) 344-1766 or email