In December, 10 University of Hawaiʻi Community College culinary arts students competed in 7-Eleven Hawaiʻi’s annual contest to produce a better-for-you bento or entrée that could potentially be sold at all 7-Eleven Hawaiʻi locations.
“[Vegan Rigatoni Bolognese had] a really good flavor profile and we think customers who don’t eat vegan would eat this,” 7-Eleven Senior Category Manager Debbie Lee Soon said, after announcing the winner. Molina’s dish went on sale at 7-Eleven’s statewide on March 29. The three-week sales window could be lengthened if it does well.
Molina, who was recently featured in the Honolulu Star-Advertiser’s “Dining Out” section, told the interviewer, “This is a tremendous opportunity for me to get my name out there in this industry. 7-Eleven Hawaiʻi is a household name statewide and I have family all over Hawaiʻi and am so proud to have my relatives and friends hear about this. I am the first in my family to go to college.”
This was the fourth time UH Community College culinary arts students competed for the opportunity to have their dishes sold at 7-Eleven Hawaiʻi locations.
- 2020: Kapiʻolani CC students Eri Abe (Wafu ʻUlu Stew) and Jeongyeon Shim (Tteobokki, spicy rice cake stir-fry) were co-first-place winners.
- 2019: Shrimp and Vegetable Sinigang Noodle Soup by Kapiʻolani CC’s Kainoa Reloza took the prize.
- 2018: Kapiʻolani CC student Primo Mateo’s Chicken Pastele Stew and Gandule Rice bento was the inaugural champion.
—By Kelli Abe Trifonovitch