Amina Ihmud loves cooking with her mom. Her favorite dish? Pasta.

But the second grader wasn’t always having fun in the kitchen. At age five, Ihmud started having back pain and bruising on her legs. She was very tired, too. Doctors soon diagnosed her with leukemia. She started treatment right away, but her recovery was ongoing and tough.

Change of course

Make-A-Wish stepped in to make Ihmud’s journey a little easier, fulfilling her wish to be a chef. Together with the kitchen appliance company Thermador, they hosted Amina and her family at the Thermador Pro Kitchen, at Thermador Event & Design Center in Irvine, California. Fully equipped, with top-of-the-line kitchen appliances, cooking utensils, products and food, the test kitchen was transformed into “Amina’s Café.”

“I felt so excited, surprised and happy—very happy,” says Ihmud, whose favorite chefs are Giada De Laurentiis and Rachael Ray.

“'I would tell other kids that it’s going to be okay,' says Ihmud. 'You’re going to get through this really fast, and you can still do a lot of really fun things.'”

The day started with VIP treatment, as Ihmud and her parents were picked up in a limo. She thought she would be spending the day cooking with her mom and dad, but when they arrived at the kitchen Ihmud was surprised to see a team of volunteers who would help her prepare food for another surprise: 20 family members who were there to share in her wish.

Cooking up a storm

Dressed in a white, personalized chef’s coat and hat, the young chef quickly became busy whipping up culinary creations. On the menu at Amina’s Café: shrimp and steak appetizers, bread, fruit and cupcakes.

BAKE BREAK : With a team of her own to help her cook, Amina got a day to be carefree by doing what she loves for the people she loves.

Ihmud, who enjoys watching cooking shoes like “Chopped” and “Master Chef Junior,” enjoyed her café experience and loved the high tech gear, especially the stove. During those exciting moments in the kitchen, she forgot she was sick.

“I would tell other kids that it’s going to be okay,” says Ihmud. “You’re going to get through this really fast, and you can still do a lot of really fun things.”

Wonderful wishes

Since its start in 1980, Make-A-Wish has granted over 350,000 wishes to children around the world with life threatening medical conditions. “A wish is really a part of our medicine,” says Dr. James B. Fahner, M.D., F.A.A.P. and chair of the medical advisory council for Make-A-Wish America. “It’s something, in many ways, that’s just as healing as anything you’d get in a clinic or a hospital.”

He says the wish experience provides kids “moments of innocence” and gives them hope. “This is something that’s going to be a positive experience and memory for the child and the family for a long time,” Fahner says.

Amina’s mother, Anabel Martinez agrees, saying her daughter’s wish was and will always be a highlight for the cute girl in glasses, as well as the rest of her family. “That one day that they don’t think about what they have is amazing to us parents—to see our child be normal that one day,” says Martinez.

Aspiring chef

Now in remission, Ihmid is grateful for her cooking wish and looks forward to one day being a professional chef who owns a café. She wants to inspire others too.

“Everybody remember to give back to other kids,” Amina says. “You have a lot to give back to other people.”