Miliani Teen Wins Food & Wine Festival Keiki Cooking Contest
Crispy wonton, fresh out of the fryer — it’s delicious, but definitely not the first thing that comes to mind when you think “healthy.”
But Mililani High School’s Hunter Gentry took his wonton recipe straight to the top of the 2014 Hawaii Food & Wine Festival’s Keiki in the Kitchen contest.
Sponsored by Kellogg’s and Foodland, the contest challenged chefs ages 8-17 to develop a healthy dish featuring no more than 10 preparatory steps or 10 ingredients, one of which must be sourced locally. Gentry took first place in the age 13-17 division.
Gentry confessed he’s more of a baker normally, but he does pride himself on his poke wonton and his crab and cream cheese variations.
For the contest, he made shrimp and vegetable wontons, with a healthy twist of skipping the deep fry.
“You take a wonton wrapper, brush it with olive oil, put it in a muffin pan and bake it,” he explained. “It turns into a cup.” The filling was made of shrimp, Big Island tomatoes, Maui onions, Japanese cucumbers, corn and papaya seed dressing.
Judges included chef Nobu Matsuhisa, Jason Fox and Iron Chef Hiroyuki Sakai, but Gentry managed to keep his cool —most of the time.
“I wasn’t so much nervous when I was starting the prep — cooking everything and getting it ready for the judges,” he said. “But once I started to give it to them, it was very nervous for me.”
Gentry is only a freshman, so he’ll go from his first-place win back to the start of his culinary pathway core at Mililani High. He’s a pretty busy guy, serving on his class Homecoming committee, the color guard, plus he wants to join the paddling team, among many other activities. In his spare time, he volunteers with Camille’s on Wheels food truck in Kailua, and he also hopes to attend Culinary Institute of America in New York one day.
“I just like to do anything,” he laughed.