Chef Kusuma Cooray Wins 2015 Ka Palapala Po`okela Award

Kapiʻolani Community College
Louise Yamamoto, (808) 734-9513
Director, College Relations, Office for College and Community Relations
Posted: May 5, 2015

Chef Kusuma Cooray
Chef Kusuma Cooray

During the 22nd Annual Ka Palapala Po'okela Awards, Chef-Professor Kusuma Cooray of Kapi'olani Community College was recognized with the Excellence in Cookbooks Award for her book, Ocean to Plate: Cooking Fish with Hawai'i’s Kusuma Cooray.

The 2015 Ka Palapala Po'okela Awards celebration, held at the East-West Center at UH Mānoa, was presented by Hawai'i Book Publishers Association to recognize Hawai'i’s finest books and their authors, illustrators, designers and publishers over the past year. When translated from the Hawaiian, the term “Ka Palapala Po'okela” can mean “excellent or exemplary manuscript.”

Each year, nominations are judged in twelve categories, and only two honors may be given in each category – an Honorable Mention and the Award of Excellence.

Kusuma Cooray was honored with the Award of Excellence in the Cookbook category.

Chef Cooray’s 200 entries entice the palette and each entry is considered a flavor-forward dish. Kusuma does not disappoint. Her Sri Lankan background contributes to delightful dishes that use exotic herbs and spices that blend with traditional and local ingredients. Although her recipes focus on fresh fish from Pacific waters, she provides guidelines for substitutions as well as relishes, chutneys and sauces that enhance the dishes. Her relaxed style is informational and engaging, raising interest in filleting skills, cooking techniques, everything from ocean to table. Her persona is as much an author as is a professor in the classroom .

A chef in his own right, John Richards, Kapi'olani CC’s new Dean for Culinary Arts said: “In a very short time, I have come to know Kusuma as a treasure that has value beyond the kitchen. She is eminently respected and embraces the standard of excellence reflected in the College’s motto, “Kūlia I ka Nu'u” (To strive for the Highest). It is my great honor to know and work with Kusuma.”