A team of high school students from Lahaina–dubbed team Salt and Pepper–has won the the American Heart Association’s Iron Chef competition. The competition was a part of AHA’s Kids/Teens Cook With Heart program. The students–seniors Joseph Campos, Herzain Cardenas, Renden Dadez, Denilson Riveria and junior Alan Barrios–took the honor during the March 17 competition at Lahainaluna High School.
The American Heart Association developed the Kids/Teens Cook With Heart program to teach elementary, middle and high school students how to prepare healthful meals as a way to embrace a healthier lifestyle and to curtail the onset of obesity; studies show that youth who are involved in preparing their own meals are more likely to eat nutritious foods, and more fruits and vegetables. Moreover, the program was designed to get keiki excited about trying new foods and encourage them to share their passion with their families, thus expanding the program’s reach.
The program boasts a special curriculum designed to meet the needs of Lahaina-area families, align with the Hawaii public schools’ syllabus, and embrace the native and traditional foods in Hawaii. The AHA, together with West Maui’s Chef Paris Nabavi, who volunteers his time to the program, recruits and trains other West Maui chefs who bring their knowledge, passion and local flavors to the classroom; the other chefs volunteering include their time include: Craig Erickson, Chef Elizabeth (Betty) McDonald, Jojo Vasquez, Kaipo Nagata, Lyndon Honda, Riko Bartolome, Rob Mason, and Ryan Luckey.
The program, which is offered in Lahaina-area elementary, middle and high schools through a grant to the AHA by the Saunders Family, is designed to teach students the basic skills required to prepare their own meals at home, as well as the information they need to make healthier choices.
The high school program culminated with teams of students demonstrating their new skills in the March 17 “Iron Chef” competition at Lahainaluna High School gymnasium.
The student teams were paired with professional chefs serving as advisers and provided with a variety of food items from which they were challenged to create the most tasty, healthy meals. Their creations were judged by a panel of local celebrities including professional chefs, representatives of the media, school leaders and others. The winning team earned the title “Iron Chefs” and earned awards that will be used to share their cooking knowledge with their families.
Photo courtesy Charlene Kauhane