Thursday, October 26, 2006

Awesome Lunchtime Tour

Today driving to work I struck up a conversation via ham radio with one of my new friends Alex (KH7F). We were talking about hunting and fishing and just enjoying our conversation. Alex and his wife run the Panya Bakery, whose kitchen (one of them at least) is on Cooke and Queen streets, near KITV. Alex has offered to show me around in the past, and today I took him up on his offer. I rode my bike down to his shop and introduced myself.

Alex is a genuinely friendly person. He immediately greeted me and took be behind the scenes. I met his wife and soon found myself next to walk-in ovens and freezers and in the midst of a commercial baking kitchen. We quickly passed through and he showed me the chocolate room. (Don't you wish you had a chocolate room?!)

This very cold room is specifically for the purpose of preparing chocolate shapes for the various cakes and pastries. This work is all about temperature! He has to heat the chocolate to just the right temperature, then work it very quickly as it cools to form the various grates, spirals, springs and forms of chocolate. He works on a solid marble surface and has to endure a very cold air conditioner as he works. He was never formally trained as a "chocolate sculptor" and had to pick up the duties when the chocolate chef they had left for the Big Island and no others could be found.

But then his face lit up as he led me to his radio room. He pointed out the bundles of cables that led from the roof to his sealed radio room. As he opened the door, he unveiled banks and banks of buttons, dials and lights. It was awe inspiring! From this room he is able to speak to people all around the world. He showed me his meticulous logs of contacts from Belgium, South Africa, Brazil, Japan...everywhere!

He got his start in morse code at 19 in the Taiwanese army, and came to Hawaii in 1985 to help the family business. He has been here ever since and now seems to be doing very well with the bakery and enjoying his radio and fishing hobbies. We spent a lot of time in his room, as he explained about how the components of the station are wired together. He also fixes radios on the side and we talked about that some too.

It was tremendous fun to see his "radio shack". As I consider my humble beginnings (a walkie talkie, a scanner and a really big impressive clock) I wonder if I have just peeked into my future. Who knows what I'll be doing 25 years from now, but I sure hope it has as many knobs, buttons and lights!

Peace, Love and Button Lust,



Sandy Fewell said...

How neat that you are meeting such interesting people via your ham radio. I'm positive Dad would love to meet your newest friend and see the "chocolate" room! Yummy!

Barbara Olmos said...

Panya??? I love Panya!!! Never knew there was such a thing as a Chocolate Chef...I think I missed my life calling.

Gung Ho said...

It looks like he could launch the United States counterstrike from his office if N. Korea ever launched its missiles.

Dick Fewell said...

sign me up for the chocolate tasting tour!!