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The Power of Cooking

CHOC’s Adolescent and Young Adult (AYA) Cancer program treats more than cancer—it provides a community of support for young people to thrive. To do this, our AYA Child Life Specialists work to create special experiences all year long ranging from movie nights, beach bonfires, holiday parties, cooking classes, and much more.

Yet, the onset of COVID-19 brought CHOC’s AYA activities to a halt.

As activities began to be postponed or canceled, our AYA Child Life Specialist mobilized to shift programming virtually.

Long-time corporate partner, Nuvision Federal Credit Union joined CHOC’s child life team to help support their virtual programming, establishing the Nuvision Cares Virtual Cooking Series for the AYA program at CHOC through the end of the year.

Each month the program will partner with a different chef to host a virtual class and showcase the power that cooking can have to bridge everyone together. At each session, patients will receive an ingredient box with everything they will need to follow along from the safety of their kitchen.

To kick-off the first session, patients were joined by Founder and Executive Chef of Slapfish Restaurant, Andrew Gruel. Chef Gruel led an interactive class answering cooking questions, doing the demo, and engaging with patients. And, while some patients may not have had existing culinary skills, Chef Gruel helped guide them step-by-step to help uncover kitchen skills they never knew they had in the first place. By the end of the class each patient had created a stellar garlic shrimp and sausage risotto.



Here’s what a few patients had to say:

“I had such a great time participating in the cooking class, thank you so much!! I loved being able to serve dinner to my big brother, he ate all of it!” – Sammi

“The smells from the cooking class were the bomb!” – Hannah

“The cooking class was a blast. I loved learning a new recipe. I have never made rice like that before; I will defiantly be making this delicious dish again!” – Jessica

“It was such a great experience getting to cook a new recipe with Chef Gruel and spend time with my CHOC AYA Family!” – Ofelia

“Cooking with Chef Andrew was a great experience. The recipe was easy to follow, and the food turned out delicious! He was really knowledgeable and willing to help anyone who was having difficulty following along. I would defiantly like to cook with him again!” – Ralph


We are extremely thankful to Chef Gruel for his time and ingredients donation. We also want to thank Nuvision Federal Credit Union for making this program possible.


Click here to learn more about Chef Andrew Gruel.

Click here to learn more about Nuvision Federal Credit Union.

Click here to learn more about CHOC’s AYA Program.