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Adrian's Italian Culinary Adventure!

  • Chef Adrian and Chef James Aptakin about to get cooking! Photos courtesy of Mahina Studios.

  • Wish kid Adrian prepping the Italian salad like a pro.

  • Dough-n't you want some?

  • Sous Chef Edmond Kwok, Executive Chef James Aptakin and Chef Adrian are joined by Dirk Koeppenkastrop, owner of IL Gelato Hawaii!

  • Adrian drops the pasta into boiling water until it is "al dente."

  • A fantastic meal prepared by a fantastic chef!

  • Adrian with his fellow chefs!

“ It was pure JOY. ”


- Tina Mahina, Photographer

Sixteen-year-old wish kid Adrian has battled acute lymphoblastic leukemia for years and has finally achieved remission; now nothing can hold him back from his dreams of being a chef!

Adrian loves food and wants to cook professionally when he grows up, so it was no surprise when he wished to have an authentic Italian culinary experience! The best part of it all? Adrian and his family had no idea what was in store for them on their once-in-a-lifetime culinary adventure in paradise!  

A Sweet Surprise

Executive Chef James Aptakin surprised wish kid Adrian and his family with an Italian cooking experience at MAC 24/7 in the Hilton Waikiki Beach Hotel. After receiving a warm welcome, Adrian transformed into a Master Chef as he put on his new apron, a personalized toque blanche and a coat embroidered with "Chef Adrian." As soon as he changed into his new chef gear, Adrian was ready to get cooking!

Food for the Soul

Chef James and Sous Chef Edmond Kwok began the cooking class by teaching Chef Adrian how to prepare several pasta dishes, followed by a lesson in spaghetti gelato from Dirk Koeppenkastrop of IL Gelato Hawaii. Adrian's passion for food made him a natural in the kitchen. He mixed, whipped, simmered and sauteed for hours with his new friends.

Adrian's family watched with excitement as he navigated the kitchen like a seasoned professional. Seeing his wish fulfilled before their eyes filled their hearts with joy.

Bon Appetit!

After a long day of hard work in the kitchen, all the chefs and Adrian's family sat down for a delicious Italian feast. On the menu? House-made Focaccia bread, a variety of hand-made fresh pasta dishes, spaghetti gelato from the famed IL Gelato and much more.

Once the dishes were plated, the whole party gathered in a private dining room—complete with acoustic Italian music by Kiana Luna—to enjoy the authentic meal that Chef Adrian had made!

An Everlasting Light

"When Adrian's mom walked into the private dining room after the cooking experience, she got very emotional. Adrian tried to calm her down so she wouldn't cry, but the more she looked around, the more emotion welled up inside of her. When she sat at her place setting, she said, 'Remember, Adrian, when we tried to have a date in the hospital with real candles? And they told us we couldn't? Look, we have candles now.' Then she started to cry. I'm sure it was pure joy."

- Tina Mahina, photographer and wish granter

For Adrian and his family, this wish was more than a fun experience, it was a time to heal together and appreciate simple moments that were once impossible due to his condition. 

To finish off the amazing day, Adrian was given gifts to celebrate his graduation as a master Italian chef, including a framed graduation certificate, a handmade Koa wood cutting board and a recipe book with all the recipes from his chef experience. 

“It was such a wonderful experience,” said his mom, Jannette. “Thank you so much.” 

Grazie, Adrian—we can’t wait to see what you cook up next! 

Special Thanks: Hilton Waikiki Beach Hotel, Chef James Aptakin, Sous Chef Edmond Kwok, MAC 24/7, Chef Dirk Koeppenkastrop of IL Gelato Hawaii, Menehune Mac, Found Wood and Malihini Hawaii Uniforms, Tina Mahina Photographer and Kiana Luna.

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Make-A-Wish® Hawaii
P.O. Box 1877
Honolulu, HI 96805
(808) 537-3118 x100