August 16 2021 (7-Eleven Hawai'i) by Annika Streng
7-Eleven Hawai'i partnered with the students and faculty of the Culinary Arts Programs at Kapiʻolani Community College and Leeward Community College to present the 3rd Annual On The Line recipe competition, challenging culinary students to create a healthy bento or entrée that meets specific nutrition and logistic criteria:
- Recipe curated for the 7-Eleven Hawai'i customer
- No more than 700 calories per bento
- Must contain (2) locally sourced ingredients
- The product must be chilled and reheated to specific controlled temperatures
The final judging event was held virtually in December of 2020. The competition was so close that 7-Eleven Hawai'i selected co-winning dishes: Jeongyeon Shim's Spicy Rice Cake Stir-Fry and Eri Abe's Wafu 'Ulu Stew. Both contestants were awarded $1000 and the chance to have their recipe released in stores.
Students begin preparing for the competition with a product development presentation from 7-Eleven Hawaii's Senior Category Manager of Fresh Foods, Debbie Lee Soon. She provides students an in-depth look at how the company takes products from inception to production. In past competitions, she accompanied the class on an exclusive tour of Warabeya USA, the company's food commissary partner. This practice was modified for the students in 2020 due to COVID-19.
For Lee Soon, partnering with the students and faculty is a win-win for the UH Community Colleges and 7-Eleven Hawai'i, “this is the 3rd year that we have partnered with Kapiolani Community College and our 2nd year with Leeward Community College. Year after year, we have seen a lot of enthusiasm, pride, and creativity from participating students."
Tteokbokki: Spicy Rice Cake Stir Fry
The first dish hit stores on June 15th and was inspired by Jeongyeon Shim's love of his culture, stating, "Tteokbokki is the quintessential comfort food in South Korea." Shim's Tteokbokki is tteok (rice cake), flat eomuk (fish cake), and a boiled egg. This version was specially crafted for 7-Eleven using the classic spicy gochujang and vegetables such as carrots, cabbage, and local Maui onions. This entrée was available in 7-Eleven stores throughout July.
'Ulu Beef Stew Bento
Eri Abe's co-winning dish launched in stores on August 3rd and is a comfort food created from a fusion of two cultures, "I believe that one of the best ways to learn and experience another culture is through its food. I would like to share my Japanese culture with the people of Hawaii with my Wafu 'Ulu Stew (Japanese style Ulu Stew). This is a traditional flavorful Japanese stew containing sliced meat and vegetables in a Japanese style dashi (umami) and sweet soy sauce base. I wanted to put a local spin to this traditional dish and incorporate local ingredients such as 'ulu and green long beans. "
The featured local ingredient in Abe's bento is 'ulu, which is breadfruit in ʻōlelo Hawaiʻi. Breadfruit is a starchy, nutritious fruit with a bread-like texture when cooked. It can be savory and sweet, depending on the ripeness of the fruit. It is an important Polynesian staple crop, with one tree producing hundreds of pounds of food annually.
The Hawai'i 'Ulu Cooperative
To source 'ulu 7-Eleven Hawai'i and Warabeya USA partnered with the Hawai'i 'Ulu Cooperative, a network of small-scale, diversified farms on Hawai'i Island that grow breadfruit. The co-op is committed to the revival of 'ulu to strengthen Hawai'i's food security and to the value of aloha' āina (love for the land) by using environmentally responsible growing and production methods. 'Ulu is one of the world's few staple crops that grows on perennial trees, so it doesn't need to be replanted every year. In fact, a single 'ulu tree can live for 50 to 100 years or more and produce hundreds, even over a thousand, pounds of fruit annually.
'Ulu season begins in July, so the 7-Eleven team decided to work with The Hawai'i 'Ulu Cooperative, and competition winner Eri Abe on setting the launch of this bento in August. You can find the 'Ulu Beef Stew bento at all 65 7-Eleven Hawai'i locations starting on August 3rd.