It wasn't the usual crowd at Hot's Kitchen last Saturday, as a group of about 20 kids and their mentors came to learn how to cook a simple meal from the restaurant's Executive Chef Sean Chaney.
"It was an awesome day," Chaney said afterward. "I didn't know what to expect."
The cooking lesson was an activity sponsored by Torrance-based charity Walk With Sally, which provides mentors and support to children ages 7 to 17 who either have a parent or sibling with cancer, or who have recently lost one to the disease.
The children learned kitchen basics, such as how to use knives, and how to make pasta with red sauce and shrimp and a salad.
Chaney said the kids were very enthusiastic, even if for many of them cooking meant making the microwave work. But he encouraged them to keep trying new things.
"You start by trying new things," Chaney told the kids. "Don't be afraid to make mistakes."
Patrick Sovalbarro, age 13, was particularly excited about the class.
"He kept coming up to me," Chaney said, explaining that Sovalbarro wanted to know more and more.
"You can smell it and you can fun and really enjoy it," Sovalbarro said.
Indeed, on Sunday, he and his sister Samantha, age 10, were cooking again, this time in their mother's kitchen. Georgina Meza has stage 4 breast cancer and was released from the hospital and is very weak.
"I wanted to help my mom so she could be less tired," Sovalbarro said about why he wanted to learn to cook.
Samantha is also looking forward to helping her mother.
"She gets tired," the young girl said about her mother. "So I'm going to cook for her."
She'd like to make chicken Alfredo next.
Chaney said that he grew up making French toast until he got really good at it, but also suggested baked chicken as a next project for the kids.