A Natural Born Foodie

His grandmother owned one of the first Japanese restaurants in Los Angeles, his father runs a taco truck in Hawaii and his step-grandfather is a sushi chef. It’s that tradition of food and an interest in science that inspired Keoni Aricayos, a junior in food science, to study at Iowa State University.

“I love food, but who doesn’t love food,” Aricayos says. “I was interested in agriculture and I wanted to try something new, so when I found the food science degree I decided to come to Iowa State.”

His friends and family thought he was crazy moving to a university located in the Midwest where winters are cold and snowy. Aricayos had never experienced winter and had only seen winter scenes on television, but he relished the experience.

“It blew my mind when the leaves started falling. I couldn’t wrap my head around how the trees became sticks,” Aricayos says. “Then I couldn’t believe the snow, and it was amazing to watch puddles of water became ice.”

He’s also had some new culinary experiences. He’d never tasted Scotcharoos or biscuits and gravy before moving to Iowa. He does miss the fresh fish dishes he grew up eating and cooking. In Hawaii, he remembers cooking as a community after catching fresh fish from the ocean.

A culinary tradition is strong on both sides of Aricayos’ family. His grandmother, Nene Fukuchi, once owned one of the largest Japanese restaurants in Los Angeles. His father saw a need in Hawaii and an opportunity to open a taco truck.

“Hawaii is notorious for serving bad Mexican food,” Aricayos says. “My dad was craving Mexican food, so he opened a Mexican food truck and he’s pretty successful.”

Food safety is Aricayos’ main area of interest. “Combining food and science together is my dream,” he says. “My nutrition and microbiology classes are my favorites because those topics can be applied to everyday life.”

Cooking food is an art Aricayos enjoys. He has a small container garden where he grows herbs, which he uses to create his own art.

“Each person creates food their own way. You have flavors, spices, colors and you can change it up anyway you want. It makes people happy,” he says.

Aricayos’ served as a College of Agriculture and Life Sciences Student Council representative for the food science club and is the chair of the club’s philanthropy committee. He’s also in charge of the club’s annual fudge fundraiser.

“He’s very passionate about food and his activities for the food science club,” says Terri Boylston, food science and human nutrition professor and adviser.

Aricayos will graduate in December 2016 and hopes to pursue a career that will allow him to travel. He plans to invite his parents to Iowa for graduation to get a taste of winter and enjoy some of Iowa’s culinary art.