Thinking outside the box: Friends find unique way to keep together amid stay-at-home order

  • A creation from Marcial Correa and Jessica Torma’s Chopped challenge among friends. (Courtesy Photo/Special to West Hawaii Today)

  • A creation from Marcial Correa and Jessica Torma’s Chopped challenge among friends. (Courtesy Photo/Special to West Hawaii Today)

  • The box of produce provided to “contestants” of the Chopped friends challenge. (Courtesy Photo/Special to West Hawaii Today)

Friends who are used to socializing with each other are coming up with unique ways to stay in touch while adhering to the stay at home order.

Kona resident Marcial Correa and his girlfriend, Jessica Torma, came up with a fun and challenging way to meet up with friends via Zoom, an online video-calling platform that can accommodate up to 100 people.

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The couple decided to host a “Chopped” night, based on the popular Food Network show where contestants create a meal based on ingredients provided to them.

“We had talked to our friends about doing a chopped thing before the stay at home order, but with everything being the way it is, we were like ‘everyone has a kitchen, and lots of people are using the Zoom conference call to stay in touch,’” said Correa.

Correa and Torma have been purchasing weekly produce boxes from Honaunau Market and asked them if they would be willing to provide small veggie boxes.

“We explained the idea and they loved it,” said Correa. “I had 12 families that wanted to participate, Honaunau Market organized the box and we threw in some random things like PEZ candy and a bag of chips.”

They also ordered 12 half-pound ahi fillets and soyrizo, a soy version of chorizo for the vegans in their group.

“Stephanie at Honaunau Market asked what type of protein we were using, and she said ‘perfect, I’m going to throw in a lot of veggies that don’t go with any of that,’” said Correa.

“Jess and I went around in my truck and delivered these boxes to all the friends who were going to do it. The whole box only cost the family $30,” he said.

The boxes were covered so no one could see what was inside until 5 p.m. when they organized the Zoom conference call.

Correa said they had to use at least some of each ingredient, with the exception of only one item, chosen by the “contestants.” After opening their boxes to reveal ingredients, the families had one hour to create a dish.

“Everyone came up with a killer dish and the coolest thing about it was there wasn’t a whole lot of talking during the 40 minutes except the families trying to figure out,” he said.

At the end of the hour, each group had one minute to present their dish, where the group graded their creation on creativity, appearance and virtual taste.

“Even though we couldn’t taste everybody’s dish, it was more of a ‘if you think it tastes good’ grade,” said Correa.

As fun as it was to cook, what really excited Correa was how the experience brought people together.

“One of the managers that works with my girlfriend doesn’t really cook, but she said it was so cool how her mom got into it with them and it brought them together, something they never done,” he said. “Just hearing this stuff I was like my heart is going to bust out of my shirt. It was so cool hearing these stories.”

Correa said everyone had so much fun, they are planning on having another one, perhaps with a ballpark food theme.

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Correa recommends other chefs and wanna-be chefs could get together like they did.

“At the end of the day it was awesome how many people this brought together,” he said.