‘Keiki In The Kitchen’ Recipe Contest

Potential future James Beard Award-winning chefs PHOTO COURTESY HAWAII FOOD & WINE FESTIVAL

Potential future James Beard Award-winning chefs


A 6-year-old boy named Roy used to drive hours with his family to the fish market in Japan to buy live tako (octopus). He would help rub salt into its flesh then barbecue teriyaki steaks and chicken for dinner using a small hibachi.

A 10-year-old named Alan would experiment with S&S Frozen Saimin, eating it with and without different ingredients such as black pepper, green onions, sesame oil and kamaboko.

Who knew these boys would grow up to be James Beard Award-winning chefs?

Yes, these are true childhood memories shared by Roy Yamaguchi and Alan Wong, renowned restaurateurs and co-founders of Hawaii Food & Wine Festival.

Their own fond recollections of food inspired the Kellogg’s and Foodland Healthy Lunchtime Challenge for the fourth annual festival. The “HMAA Keiki in the Kitchen: Food, Fitness & Fun” contest is calling on young chefs statewide to submit their best recipes. The deadline is Aug. 10.

The hope is to get creative juices flowing with healthy dishes made by children ages 8-17. Recipes must feature at least one fresh, locally grown ingredient, and be nutritious, affordable and have a meaningful story behind it.

The top three contestants will present their dishes for tasting and scoring by celebrity chef judges Nobu Matsuhisa, Iron Chef Hiroyuki Sakai, and Jason Fox Sept. 6 at Honolulu Zoo.

First-place winners will get a “Keiki Night Out” party for 10 by Chef Roy Yamaguchi or Alan Wong and a two-night stay in an oceanfront room at Outrigger Reef on the Beach in Waikiki.

Who wouldn’t want to win that? But both chefs agree anyone who enters comes out a winner. In Wong’s words, “The No. 1 benefit is awareness. And the No. 2 benefit is that they will become parents one day and teach their kids about local ingredients, supporting local farmers and making sure Hawaii is more sustainable for their kids.”

Yamaguchi adds, “The real benefit is about teaching keiki to love and take care of the aina, and then to also teach them how to make a couple of dishes so they can cook for themselves. It’s also important for keiki to learn that local agricultural products are fresher than Mainland products and have more nutritional value.”

Take it from two forces behind Hawaii Regional Cuisine. Who knows what Hawaii’s next generation of top chefs could create using their imaginations and home-grown ingredients?

For more details on the contest and rules, visit hawaiifoodandwinefestival.com/KeikiInTheKitchen; hawaiifoodandwinefestival.com/EnterChallenge.

Entries and photos also may be emailed to KeikiInTheKitchen@hawaiifoodandwinefestival.com or dropped off at any Foodland store. They also can be mailed to Hawaii Food & Wine Festival, Healthy Lunchtime Challenge, 3538 Waialae Ave., #203, Honolulu, HI 96816.