Every year, IHOP Restaurants host a national competition that invites kids treated at Children’s Miracle Network (CMN) Hospitals to submit their best pancake recipe for the chance to have their creation appear on the restaurant’s menu for a limited time. CHOC’s very own Rayaan Kalhoro has earned top honors as the 2021 IHOP Kid Chef Champion for his submission called, “Caramel Apple à la Mode Pancakes”—a stack of buttermilk pancakes with warm apple cinnamon topping, caramel sauce and crowned with premium vanilla ice cream.
“My mom makes really good apple pie and I wondered if there could be an apple pie pancake,” Rayaan says about the creative inspiration behind his pancake masterpiece. From that initial idea, Rayaan and his mom, Hina, worked together to design his winning recipe.
After reviewing 38 submissions from around the country, IHOP selected Rayaan for his pancake recipe’s originality, taste and his inspirational personal story.
Rayaan’s CHOC Story
At 16-months-old, Rayaan had a cold, developed a 101-degree fever and started getting lethargic. His family took him to his pediatrician, where Rayaan’s condition became more serious, and he eventually became unresponsive. The pediatrician called 911 right away, and at this point, the Kalhoro family chose to have Rayaan transported by ambulance to CHOC for immediate, specialized care to help treat his urgent condition. Upon their arrival in the CHOC Emergency Department, Hina remembers a full team of around 15 people already waiting for them and the swiftness of everyone’s response.
“I’ve never seen an emergency room that organized before,” she says.
At CHOC, Rayaan was diagnosed with Acute Disseminated Encephalomyelitis (ADEM), a rare autoimmune disorder. The severity of this illness caused it to be life-threatening and as a result, Rayaan was in a coma for three weeks.
“I can’t even capture the emotions that were there when he wasn’t waking up for three weeks. It’s a mother’s nightmare,” Hina recalls.
After endless efforts from CHOC staff, nurses and specialists, Rayaan woke up from his coma.
“All of the doctors were so nice, and they cared for him as if he was their own,” Hina reflects.
However, this experience affected him in every way, including his vision, motor skills, breathing and speech. Rayaan had to re-learn how to walk, talk and eat.
Rayaan had a feeding tube placed, as he was unable to eat orally. After two years of specialized feeding therapy at CHOC, fluffy and soft pancakes was one of the first solid foods that he started to eat again, which is why pancakes have such a special significance for Rayaan.
“He ate a lot of pancakes. The soft texture combined with butter and syrup was easy to chew and swallow,” Hina explains.
Today, Rayaan continues his road to recovery with his specialists at CHOC. He loves Roblox, swimming, riding his bike and, of course, his favorite breakfast item—pancakes!
Rayaan shares that he feels very proud of his winning pancake recipe and is excited to see it on the IHOP menu. He recommends eating his “Caramel Apple à la Mode Pancakes” quickly before the ice cream melts.
As part of the National Kid Chef campaign, Rayaan’s pancake will appear on IHOP menus, and will be available from Sept. 13 to Oct. 31, 2021. One dollar from every sale of the “Caramel Apple à la Mode Pancakes” will benefit local Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals like CHOC. To support the IHOP Kid Chef Champion Rayaan, and kids like him who are fighting to overcome illnesses, visit your local participating IHOP and try Rayaan’s pancake.
Join CHOC’s Miracle Family Program
Rayaan and his family received the opportunity to enter IHOP’s National Kid Chef competition through the Miracle Family program, where they volunteer as ambassadors for CHOC and the Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals. Miracle Families serve as CHOC champions by visiting corporate partners throughout Orange County and by sharing their stories with employees, customers, and the community. Current and former CHOC families interested in volunteering with the program can contact Rachel Gallegos, assistant director of corporate engagement, at Rachel.Gallegos@choc.org or (714) 509-4017, for more information.