Now, they’re cooking

  • photo submitted by Wendy Castillo

    Jody Valente, owner of Kalapaki Joe’s, teaches kids from St. Theresa School about the basics of cooking during their first cooking class, where they made turkey nachos.

KEKAHA — Thanksgiving Scratch Turkey Nachos were on the menu at St. Theresa School on Wednesday, and it was students from the eighth grade crafting them.

Xavier Machado and Tresten Shigematsu separated the tortilla pieces and prepped them for deep-frying. Kamalu Alquiza Kenney took on the citrus squeezing for guacamole, and Matthew Taeza, Kaedin Grace, Brendan Ines Brun, Braeanna Moises, and Mick Thompson chopped tomatoes, onions, jalapenos, avocados, green onion, and cilantro.

“Skylan Char tasted a jalapeno, then, a few tears later, vowed to never taste one again,” said Wendy Castillo, principal of St. Theresa School.

The kids were learning the art of turkey nachos through the school’s debut cooking class from Jody Valente, owner of Kalapaki Joe’s in Lihue and Poipu — an alumni of St. Theresa School.

Valente says he remembers washing dishes in the seventh and eighth grades when he was a student, before opening his restaurants.

“I was a humbug, I was always washing dishes,” he said.

Valente ran into Castillo during a shopping trip in October and the two cooked up the basics idea up right there in the store.

“Jody visited the school and a cooking class for the eighth graders was planned,” she said.

Wednesday, Valente had the class grating cheese and separating turkey, making guacamole and chipotle sauce, and deep-frying chips.

Students said they were inspired by the process — and by the food.

“The flat top cooking was the best part,” said Shigematsu.

“I liked assembling the nachos, putting the whole dish together,” said Machado.

Calvin Bailey said he liked the class so much, he’s now considering entering the culinary arts, which is along the lines of Valente’s goal for the class.

In addition to inspiring keiki to cook, he said he’s hoping healthy kitchen practices were a major take-away for the class.

“Sanitizing equipment and keeping food at the correct temperatures is of utmost importance,” Valente said. “This class was eager to learn and they will be able to use those skills at home.”

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