While Americana at Brand shoppers hustled and bustled across the way, 14-year-old Matthew Winward received his wish on Thursday: a trip to sushi school.
Winward's wish is the second of 10 public wish celebrations during Make-A-Wish Foundation's sixth annual Season of Wishes, and the first of the series at the Americana.
The organization grants wishes to children with life-threatening illnesses. Winward, who has Crohn's disease, experiences severe abdominal pain and other complications due to his illness.
"One day I was flaming, and I had a craving for sushi," said the San Clemente resident. "Buying sushi at the store gets expensive, so I started making my own.
"Turns out I'm pretty good at it, and everyone who tries it says it's the best they've ever had."
The sushi lessons, to be held at California Sushi Academy in downtown Los Angeles, were supplemented by a sushi-making demonstration by Katsuya at the Americana.
"When you approach a company during this busy time of year, you're not sure what to expect," said Make-A-Wish spokesman Steven Vanderpool. "It's amazing they come out and do all this."
Winward, whose favorite sushi dish to make is a spicy tuna roll, donned an apron and hat during his first official sushi lesson.
"I want to get better at what I love to do," he said at the end of the ceremony.