Chef Donato with Andy Banquil

Fall Family Cooking Night – IPAPA’s In the Bag with Chef Donato

How amazing would it be to have an acclaimed chef, a master of Italian cuisine in Hawaiʻi no less, select your ingredients for an authentic Italian dinner and then join you virtually in your own kitchen to teach you how to cook it? Just ask any of the 26 Island Pacific Academy families who took part in IPAPA’s In the Bag with Chef Donato on Sunday, October 10, 2021.

With the plans for IPA’s annual Fall Family Movie Night, and its famous and beloved Haunted House, quashed for a second year by COVID, IPAPA (IPA’s Parent-Teacher Association) had to redirect all their creativity into a new family-friendly event.

“We were all a little disappointed that we couldn’t put on our amazing Fall Family Movie Night and the Haunted house, which is so much fun for the kids. But we really enjoyed trying to think outside the box and come up with a whole new idea,” shared Jennifer Banquil, IPAPA vice president and IPA parent ‘23, ‘25.

The idea for In the Bag with Chef Donato was sparked by Desiree Loperfido, IPAPA president and IPA parent ‘22. She and her husband, Chef Donato Loperfido, own Flavors of Italy, which imports fine Italian wines and food products.

“Desiree and Chef Donato import a lot of ingredients from Italy, so she came up with the idea of hosting a virtual event using ingredients she could readily supply, and then having families come together and have some fun!” explained Banquil.

IPA families pre-ordered bags filled with all the ingredients they would need for the virtual cooking class, and picked them up from campus the Friday before. On Sunday evening, they all joined together on Zoom to learn how to prepare bucatini allʻAmatriciana, an Italian pasta dish with pancetta and pecorino cheese. The families followed step-by-step as Chef Donato and host Andy Banquil, IPA parent ʻ23, ʻ25, demonstrated how to prepare the classic dish. Our IPA students even got involved, cooking alongside their parents.

With the success of the event, IPAPA hopes to plan another one later in the year.

“It would be great to have a different theme for the next event. Maybe different food from a different culture. I think having a variety will bring in new families and keep it exciting,” shared Banquil.

Like with Fall Family Movie Night, it took many helping hands to make the event a success. The IPAPA board (Loperfido, Banquil, Mikaela Callahan, and Travis Richardson) led the planning, organization, and execution of the event, with help from Marised Gillette, IPA parent ʻ16 and ʻ28, and Andy Banquil. And of course, Chef Donato, IPA parent ʻ22, volunteered his talents and expertise for the event.

“This event really took a village to pull off!” said Banquil. “We had Mikaela monitoring our Zoom chat from home and sending us the questions. And we had Alessia ʻ22 and Isabella ʻ22 (Loperfido), Sebastian ʻ23 (Banquil), and Robyn Cabuslay ʻ14 helping us figure out how to use dual cameras for the live event. Thankfully, we had those current IPA students and alumnus who came to our rescue! And many thanks to the families and faculty who participated. We could not have pulled this off without all of you. IPAPA appreciates your support!”

IPAPAʻs In the Bag with Chef Donato turned out to be a Fall Family Night true to IPA tradition! Bravo!

Boy with pasta dish

In the Bag with Chef Donato graphic