Ramiro Arvizu and Jaime Martin del Campo are the chefs and owners of La Casita Mexicana, one of the best and most authentic Mexican restaurants in the city, if not the country. The two of them also appear regularly on the Spanish language television station Univision, giving cooking demonstrations and sharing their recipes. Recently, the station has been asking them what they'd be interested in for future segments, and the two got to thinking that it was a perfect opportunity to help get young children into the kitchen.

“Kids are in summer,” said del Campo, “and a lot of them don't get to go on vacation. Univision asked us for ideas, so we decided to give [the kids] classes for healthy cooking.” During this morning's live news broadcast, the chefs focused on incorporating ingredients that a lot of the children didn't much like, such as cactus, zucchini flower, and black beans, then using them to make nutritious tortillas.

The children arrived at 5 a.m., looking noticeably tired for their efforts. But once they began digging their hands into the masa, mixing it together with things like puréed cactus paddles, they quickly began to wake up.

The chefs make dessert live on Univision; Credit: N. Galuten

The chefs make dessert live on Univision; Credit: N. Galuten

Other segments showed how to make guacamole in a molcajete (a mortar and pestle made from volcanic rock), as well as a simple, unbaked cake using cookies called galletas marías, condensed milk, and lime. Up next, Arvizu and del Campo will be teaching the kids about fresh herbs.

“Teaching them to cook, it's putting them in touch, in a way, with nature,” said Arvizu. “Having a nutritious meal, and stimulating them to eat things that they wouldn't ordinarily. Showing them that you can make a tortilla into a meal itself.”

After the broadcast, the chefs had one more gift left, inviting the children and their families to sit down at La Casita Mexicana for a well-earned breakfast.

The broadcast of the next children's lesson has not yet been scheduled, but the chefs have regularly appearing segments on the Univision program Noticias 34: Primera Edición, which airs Monday through Friday from 5 a.m. to 7 a.m.

La Casita Mexicana: 4030 Gage Ave., Bell, (323) 773-1898.

Noah Galuten can also be followed on Twitter via @ManBitesWorld.

LA Weekly