Earlier this year, the Department of Health kindly connected us with the folks at the Kapi’olani Community College’s Culinary Arts School. We met with Dr. Lauren Tamamoto and Program Coordinator Daniel Leung in the summer to brainstorm some partnership ideas. After our discussion, we collectively decided that our first venture together would be a Bento Competition for the culinary students.

The students were tasked to create a bento – and not just any bento! Their recipes needed to meet the following criteria:

  1. Use a 7-Eleven Hawai’i bento container
  2. Must not exceed 700 calories
  3. Contain at least three components
  4. Contain a minimum of two local ingredients
  5. Fall under the maximum cost allowed
  6. Prepared using the Warabeya cooking process
  7. Adhere to USDA/FDA guidelines
  8. Be transportable
  9. Stay in the Hatco for four hours without being compromised

Students were excited, but they knew that it would not be easy.

To assist the students in their 2 month journey, our Fresh Food Team shared 7-Eleven Hawai’i’s company profile. They also brought with them a variety of bento for the students to sample. Warabeya then gave the students a tour of their commissary. During that time, they were exposed to the cooking process from start to finish. Many of students thought that the tour was very valuable in helping them structure their recipe. A week before the competition, the Fresh Food team visited the students and sampled each of their creations, providing comments on how they could improve their entrees.

On November 28th, eight finalists presented their dishes in front of an audience of over 70 people. Their nerves came into play, but they were very confident of their dishes. Representatives from 7-Eleven Hawai’i and Warabeya tasted and judged each dish. All entries were delicious, making it difficult to decide. There were three winning dishes. In 3rd place ($500 reward), Ace Cabango with his Teriyaki Salmon Bento. In 2nd place ($750 reward), Mychelle Coon with her Vegetarian Chili. In 1st place ($1,000 reward), Primo Mateo with his Pastele Stew and Gandule Rice. We are excited to announce that these creations will be featured in our stores in 2019. Stay tuned!

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