Bella and Emilia make cookies to buy keiki presents

  • Dennis Fujimoto / The Garden Island

    Bella Zietz and Emilia Knudsen sample a batch of cookies created using ulu flour in the certified kitchens at Passion Bakery in Kinipopo Shopping Village in Wailua.

  • Dennis Fujimoto / The Garden Island

    Michael Sterioff of Passion Bakery explains where Bella Zietz and Emilia Knudsen will work in the certified kitchen as Lourdes Torres of Sustainable Boost listens, left.

WAILUA — Emilia Knudsen, doing a guest artist appearance at the Kaua‘i Society of Artists gallery during the small works Big Show exhibit at Kukui Grove Center, was planning to use proceeds from that appearance to purchase presents for keiki attending the Keiki Christmas event Monday, Dec. 21, at the Kapa‘a Community Food Pantry located in The Kaua‘i Store.

This is where she met Bella Zietz, a young girl who has been baking since age 6, and Bella’s mother, the meeting starting a new initiative of selling cookies utilizing ulu, kalo or banana flour to raise funds for presents for children attending the Keiki Christmas.

“This is project-based learning,” said Kamala Knudsen, Emilia’s mom. “She goes to the Alaka‘i O Kaua‘i Charter School, and they approved this as a project-based learning experience. Emilia has to do all the math and calculations, do the marketing, and work with Bella to create the cookies.”

Michael Sterioff, owner of Passion Bakery at Kinipopo Shopping Village, is lending his time to help scale up the cookies to meet the potential demand as well as offering the certified kitchen that has been cranking out meals for Kaua‘i’s people impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“When the pandemic hit, our reefers were full,” Sterioff said. “And when we had to close down (due to the COVID-19), we decided to just keep cooking and giving it away rather than throw it out. We’ve been doing this ever since.”

Sustainable Boost with Lourdes Torres supplies the girls with the ulu, kalo and banana flours in support of Voyaging Foods in its 30-percent-by-30 food-security initiative.

“Bella decided to use her baking skills to create a cookie recipe by reducing the regular flour by 30% as Brynn Foster from Voyaging Foods is teaching us,” Torres said. “Bella replaced the imported wheat flour with locally-grown and made kalo, ulu and mai‘i flours. Her comment was ‘I will transform the cookie into a nutritionally-dense and nourishing food.’”

Torres said the ulu was donated by Larry and Maurina Borgatti, and Kelly Gooding, Laurie Ho and Amy Chun of the Kaua‘i County Farm Bureau.

“Sustainable Boost wanted to utilize the flour made from the raw fruit donated to create something to give back to the community,” Torres said. “Sustainable Boost is absorbing the electricity and labor costs associated with producing the flour. All of the cookie sales will go toward this fundraising effort.”

Kamala Knudsen said, through social media, cookies have already been sold. One man purchased enough cookies for himself and matched that with cookies being delivered to the Kapa‘a Community Food Pantry.

The cookies, or pre-orders for cookies, will be available for shoppers at the Pau Hana Market that meets on Mondays from 3 p.m. at Kukui Grove Center. Cookies will be available on consecutive Mondays, Dec. 7 and 14.

Cookies and pre-orders will also be available at Emilia’s booth at the Kilauea farmers’ market on the next two Saturdays, Dec. 12 and Dec. 19, from 9 to 11:30 a.m.


Dennis Fujimoto, staff writer and photographer, can be reached at 245-0453 or

  1. Katherine Muzik December 6, 2020 7:40 am Reply

    MAHALO to Bella, Emilia, Lourdes Torres and Sustainable Boost, Michael Sterioff and Passion Bakery, and Dennis Fujimoto for a wonderful, uplifting story celebrating local intelligence, inventiveness, generosity and nutrition.

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