Crooks to Cooks Program

WAIAWA (KHNL) - They are doing time for their crimes, but now Hawaii inmates may have found the right "recipe" for success on the outside.

At the Waiawa Correctional Facility, inmates are required to undergo treatment programs, take classes or have a job.

But some are spending their time in the kitchen learning a new skill. So when they get out, they won't return to a life of crime.

The kitchen in Waiawa is extremely busy.

"Everyone decided to make their best dish." says Darrin Yahiku, an inmate chef.

Entrees and desserts are being prepared by these eager culinary students who have spent the past three months learning about food preparation.

"The curriculum is similar to fundamental cooking in college." says instructor, Mahana Beamer.

These new chefs are working hard to prepare their graduation ceremony meal.

So what's on the menu?

Items you would not expect to find in a prison cafeteria.

Marinated ahi and tempura with chocolate truffles and cheesecake for dessert, all made from scratch.

"I taught them to cook without a recipe." adds Beamer.

This kitchen has not only given the inmates important skills they can use on the outside. Completing the course has also given these inmates a sense of accomplishment.

"Vocational programs are important for inmates so we can know something, complete something. It builds self esteem, we got skills now" says Yahiku.

"This is a big accomplishment for me, cause I love cooking and especially for showing my family that I accomplished something in jail." says fellow inmate, Paul Dahlen.

Cooking isn't the only trade inmates can pickup while at Waiawa, the correctional facility also has a masonry program for those who want to learn.