Celebrity Chefs work with keiki and dazzle with dinner

Chefs Jonathan Waxman, Tyler Florence, Mauna Lani Executive Chef Sandy Tuason, Ming Tsai and Sam Choy. (Photo courtesy of Mauna Lani Bay Hotel)

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Video by David Corrigan | Voice of Stephanie Salazar Big Island Video News

Karin Stanton | Hawaii 24/7

The second annual Celebrity Chef Tour benefiting the James Beard Foundation, brought chefs Jonathan Waxman, Ming Tsai, Tyler Florence, Sam Choy and celebrity cocktail mixologist Manny Hinojosa to the Big Island last week for a slate of gala events and a 3-hour visit to a school garden.

The tour benefits the James Beard Foundation and once again was hosted by the Mauna Lani Bay Hotel.

The chefs visited local keiki at the Waimea Middle School Malaai Garden on Thursday for a scheduled 45-minute stop. However, the chefs and students found they had so much to talk about, the visit lasted more than 3 hours.

“That was amazing, so cool. The kids were in awe of meeting the chefs. Waimea is a bit isolated, but it’s the foundation’s way – to give back and get kids involved. It’s always so special for the young ones,” said Jeff Black, president of the Celebrity Chef Tour.

“That’s what’s most important,” Choy said. “When this caliber of chef comes to our island, it gives fire to our young students. They can look and say, ‘I want to be like that one day.’

Choy said he was having a great week working alongside the visiting chefs.

“Food has a lot of history and heritage behind it here. Food has come a long way,” he said. “Something like this and the TV shows really showcase what we have and the real exciting thing is farmers getting involved and using their fruits and vegetables.”

Choy even had a tip for parents with fussy eaters.

“How do you get a child to eat more vegetables? You get them to grow and harvest them,” he said.

Waxman said he and the other chefs were looking forward to cooking for the sold out crowd Saturday night.

“We didn’t bring anything with us. We go to market every day we’re here. It’s what we do,” he said. “This year, we found the most fantastic fennel and the Swiss chard is perfect.”

Waxman said Saturday evening’s gala dinner would feature pig as the main dish.

“We’re doing different things. Ming Tsai is young and dynamic and doing every local vegetable and green. I’m going in and playing with it and having fun,” he said. “That’s what it’s all about.”

The Celebrity Chef Tour benefits the James Beard Foundation, whose mission is to “celebrate, preserve and nurture America’s diverse culinary heritage and future.”

To date, the Celebrity Chef Tour has raised more than $950,000.

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(Photo courtesy of Mauna Lani Bay Hotel)

(Photo courtesy of Mauna Lani Bay Hotel)

Manny Hinojosa (Photo courtesy of Mauna Lani Bay Hotel)

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