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Island youth to be featured in SWFL Chef Invitational

By Staff | Dec 27, 2017

Ronan Maughan, Preston Hanni, Kennedy Hanni, Colton Sullivan, Molly Dunn and Kyler Kouril. Not pictured Kayce Nette. MEGHAN MCCOY

Seven Sanibel youngsters have been given a rare opportunity, one that when asked, a smile instantly spread across their faces as they shared their excitement.

“I’m really excited because it’s really fun to cook for my family and to cook in front of people will be fun,” Molly Dunn, 10, said, adding that she hopes to learn to make more advanced dishes.

Resident Chef Jarred Harris chose seven youth who are attending Monday afternoon Young Chef’s Cooking Classes at the Community House to work alongside professional Southwest Florida chefs for the first ever SWFL Chef Invitational.

“I think it’s a cool opportunity. I’m excited. I think it will be fun,” Colton Sullivan, 10, said during the Dec. 4 class.

These 10-year-old chefs all share a similar passion of learning such skills as how to chop vegetables and create a meal from one simple recipe.

“I love to cook. (However) I don’t get a lot of chances at home because of homework,” Sullivan said.

The students have spent time traveling the world to such places as Italy, Autumn in the USA, India and Japan during their Monday class. The rest of the semester will take them to Spain, France, Germany, Mexico and Thailand as they create the culinary experience in the state-of-the-art kitchen within the Community House.

“I like to chop carrots. They are easy,” Sullivan said of one of the tasks he enjoys during the classes.

Dunn said that Chef Harris did a really good job teaching them how to chop vegetables and fruit.

For Kyler Kouril, 10, cooking helps him feel relaxed because he is taking items and turning them into something new, something he can taste and enjoy.

“I’m very excited because it will be a fun experience to cook with someone who knows a lot,” he said of the SWFL Chef Invitational.

The young chefs will be paired with such highly-acclaimed chefs as Werner Dietrich of Olde Hickory Golf and Country Club; Wilhelm Gahabka of Bay Colony Golf Club; Steve Joynt of Spring Run Golf Club; Craig Panneton of Pink Shell Beach Resort & Marina; Melissa Talmage of Sweet Melissa’s Cafe and John Wolff of Casa Ybel Resort.

Kouril said to work alongside one of these cooks will help him with a career he wants to pursue – cooking. He said he hopes to learn more dishes.

The youngsters will spend time with the professional chefs before the event to learn the dish, as well as exciting the recipe and preparing it for others. The video of the duo cooking will be shown the night of the event for the audience to see.

Ronan Maughan, 10, said the excitement is brewing because it is the biggest event of the year and he has the opportunity to help a professional chef, while being up on stage.

“I hope to learn to be a better cook,” he said.

Although he mostly grills and bakes with his parents, Maughan said he enjoys the Monday classes because he’s learning tips and tricks of how to cut vegetables.

Preston and his twin sister Kennedy Hanni, both 10 years old, were also invited to partake in the event.

“I am really excited. It’s a really big opportunity. It’s rare you get to work with professional chefs,” Preston said, adding that he hopes to gain knowledge on how to cook, different styles of cooking.

His sister also shared the same excitement.

“I’m excited because we are raising money for the Community House,” Kennedy said, adding that it will also give her the “opportunity to work with a highly skilled chef.”

Both of the Hanni’s spend time cooking at home, Preston enjoying baking, while Kennedy dives into preparing such meals as spaghetti and sauteed vegetables with her mother.

Kennedy said she enjoys cooking because it helps others, as well as provides for others.

“It’s a nice hobby and occupies my time,” she said. “It’s fun and everyone should try it.”

Kayce Nette will also be among the young chefs to be paired with a professional chef.

Join these youth at 6 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 27, at the Community House, 2173 Periwinkle Way, as they take the stage with one of the professional chefs. Admission is $150 per person. For more details call (239) 472-2155, or visit sanibelcommunityhouse.net.

The event will feature small plate tastings for the audience to taste. Hors d’oeuvres, champagne and wine will be served before the event.