Laguna Beach has its own Jamie Oliver.
Azmin Ghahreman, a chef and the owner of Sapphire Laguna, started a local food revolution long before "The Naked Chef" hit primetime. Three years ago, Ghahreman began visiting schools to educate children about healthy foods and cooking.
A parent of three, Ghahreman said he was inspired to give all children the tools they need to make wiser food choices to ensure better health and a brighter future.
"Child obesity has become a huge problem," he said. "We've all got to do our share in life to touch the community, and my [contribution] is to help our children. They are our future."
Ghahreman added that education is "the most important thing. Once they have this, they will know how to make better choices."
The chef recently visited Top of the World Elementary to teach an eight-week cooking class for students in third through fifth grades. He exposed them to an array of cultural cuisines, obscure vegetables and gave nutrition tips.
"We explored foods from China, Japan, the Middle East, Spain, France — all over," he said. "I also told them how important it is to eat breakfast and healthy snacks each day."
The children had a chance to make crepes, pasta dishes and chocolate. They also learned about earth friendliness, kitchen cleanliness and table etiquette.
"Many rules of life can be taught in the kitchen," Ghahreman said. "The kids really loved it and took a lot from it."
His hope, he said, is that kids will begin to demand more nutritious food from their parents, and might even adopt cooking as a family bonding activity as he has with his own children.
"We want to give them the best — clothes, cars, Ivy League schools. We must invest in their health, because it's the foundation for the rest of these things and their future," he said.
The Iran-born chef has traveled around the world, cooking for Four Seasons in many countries. His restaurant, Sapphire Laguna, is located at 1200 S. Coast Hwy., Laguna Beach.
For more information, visit www.sapphirelaguna.com.