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Adventures in Bentomaking 101

Today I taught the first of two beginner bento classes for the Temari Center, a center for Asian & Pacific arts here in Honolulu. As is to be expected with me, Mrs. Procrastination, I was cramming prep work for the class last night while doing the cooking as well. I dragged the family to Costco with my list in hand and when it came time to buy the chicken, I thought, “Hey, I should buy the non-boneless-skinless chicken to help stay on budget!” In my head all I could think of was that this pesky pack of chicken had skin on it. Only when I got home did I realize that I had to then de-bone each thigh before cutting them into bite-size pieces. Mistake #1.

Then, while putting the marinade for the chicken together, I went to the fridge for the eggs and aww crap, I’d used up all my eggs in my Lost bento on Friday. Mr. Pikko had to go out and buy eggs at 9:45 at night. Much <3 to him for doing so. I typed up the syllabus and then went to bed around midnight, figuring that it wouldn’t be good to show up for class with baggy eyes.

I woke up at 5 am to start cooking. I fried the mochiko chicken, cooked 5 cups of rice, steamed the broccoli and asparagus, and made the keiki bento ahead of time so that people could see what we’d be doing first.

I tried to go for a light and healthy lunch, though I guess a bologna sandwich isn’t exactly the healthiest thing around. Less than one slice was used for all three sandwiches, so it’s really not too bad. I used my new sandwich cutters from From Japan with Love.

The class had 11 students, but with me being a noob, I miscounted the class list and only brought enough gift bags for 10 people. Luckily I had enough food though!

We started off making the sandwiches first, which were made with white bread (you could see brown wheat mixed in), bologna, and cheese. Each cutter has two pieces, so you cut the shapes out with the bottom piece, then press the top part with the design and peel the bread off. With two slices of bread, one bologna, and one cheese, we were able to make four sandwiches each.

Lions! Roaar! Next, I taught them how to do the carrot bundle, something I’ve really enjoyed seeing on blogs lately. I used a spaghetti noodle as a tie, but cooked them a little too long and they were breaking. After that we worked on the checkered apple, which went pretty well for the people with sharp pointy knives but was a bit more difficult for those with thick tips.

All done and labeling lunches before putting them in the fridge!

One of my students with her newly made keiki lunch.

Me and Baby Girl with the lunch I gave to her after instruction on the first lunch was over.

Here are some students doing the adult lunch. Check out her AWESOME Domokun shirt! I bet she’d love to do a lunch with inari domos like in my 300th bento.

Adding the broccoli.

Here I am with our finished lunch, one that I didn’t have time to make this morning but it worked out just fine at the class. Someone had the great idea of taking a group photo of everyone holding their bentos, but I brain farted and forgot.

Here is the lunch closer up.

Overall, I was pleased with how things went. There were definitely some things to change, like the place that I sat at to teach, which was something the director Ann pointed out to me while we discussed things afterward. I needed to do a bit more prepping with the musubi. I might even need to make them ahead of time as it wasn’t very practical to have everyone make them there since you need wet and salty hands. Plus, I only had one mold and I think a couple people were making these for the first time.

I definitely need to refine my list of things to bring as I forgot to bring chopsticks for myself to use, paper towels, and bowls for the rice.

Usually I’m the type that has mad butterflies when speaking in front of people, but with this subject being something I’m so passionate about, I had none, which was a big relief. Everyone was very nice and hopefully I’ll get some good feedback to improve for the next session coming up on May 2.

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  • arkimoto

    Congrats on teaching your first class! Maybe when you visit Hilo, you can run classes here, too.

  • Glad your class went well. It looks like fun!

  • Liessa

    It looks like you and the students had a lot of fun, so congrats!
    I like the idea of doing a “kiddie” and an adult lunch, just to show how versatile bentomaking can be.

    Wanna come over to Europe and do a class here? I’d be the first one to sign up! ๐Ÿ˜€

  • Aimee S.

    I wish I could take your Bento class! Ok, I live in NC…I’ll expect you next week. ; )

  • Oh I’m glad you shared this. It is so fun to read and live vicariously through the class with your students. Great job Pikko! I bet your students had a blast.

  • Ellen

    When I first saw you mention your class I wondered why on earth you thought you needed one because your bentos are always so beautiful and artistic. How cool to find out that you actually are using your awesome talents to teach others to make beautiful lunches. I really wish I lived in Honolulu so I could take your class too. Great job!

  • Ooh, I love those bunny and flower sandwiches, I haven’t seen that type of cutter before, very cute. And I love the adult bento you designed for this, it looks great.

  • Congrats on your class going so well and I love both of the bentos that you put together.

  • Gratz on your first class! Come teach one in Alaska!

    Bone-in chicken is significantly cheaper than boneless skinnelss chicken, especially if you buy it at Sam’s or Costco. I buy a lot of chicken thighs there.

    If you don’t need big pretty pieces of chicken, the trick is to cook it before you debone it. I bake it in large batches and freeze it in casserole-sized portions.

    I have to go to Sam’s today, so I’ll get some and blog it ๐Ÿ™‚

  • I actually had to cut it up before cooking because I had to marinate the chicken. Does it come out to being worth the price or does the added weight of the bone and skin offset the price savings?

  • Misty

    This was great! I love the idea of a bento class. I’m glad to see it all went well!

  • Kim

    I wish I lived in Hawaii so I could attend one of your classes. Congrats on your first day of class! Of all the bento blogs I read, you definitely make the best looking ones!

  • Wow! I wish I stay in Honolulu so that I can go to the class! Great job! Congratulations!

  • ahhhh! looks like so much fun! man, that mochiko chicken looks really delicous.

  • val

    Well, I signed up for your May 2 class and am looking forward to it. I figured the second class would be better, becuz you would work out the bugs from your first one. I hope I remember to bring a pointy knife. Looking forward to class.

  • Shawn

    You need to get your book published so i can get you into the store to do a demo. I’m pretty certain i’d be able to get the store to pay for the materials.

  • Shawn

    Any word on when 500 Bento Box Lunches is coming out?

  • I just got word from the publisher that it’s going to print in mid-April, so it’ll be soon! She said US publication in early May.

  • kashmirkat

    Awesome ๐Ÿ™‚ I may just steal some ideas for our workshop at the anime convention again this year ๐Ÿ™‚ We did it last year with 40 people and it was crazy! lol – We wanted them to make their own onigiri and our second batch of rice didn’t want to cook right after the first – gonna see if my sis will let me borrow hers and have 2 this year and I may mold the eggs myself ahead of time as mine froze in the hotel fridge! ๐Ÿ˜ฎ The first one was definitely a learning experience! (And I’m not an expert like you!)