By Mina Williams For The Herald
EDMONDS — Six-year-old Eleanor “Ella” Sultan of Everett loves the kitchen.
Whether it’s making scrambled eggs or spaghetti or helping her dad, David Sultan, make hummus, Ella has a passion for food.
“During meals she always asks, ‘How’s that steak?’ ‘How does it taste?’ She wants everyone to enjoy their food,” said Colleen Cleeve, her mother.
Ella was diagnosed in January 2009 with neuroblastoma, a malignant cancer that can develop in the nerve tissue of children and infants. Doctors at Seattle Children’s Hospital at first only gave her a 30 percent chance for survival.
During 15 months of intensive treatment that included surgery, rounds of chemotherapy and bone marrow replacement, Ella lost her appetite.
But she never lost her interest in cooking.
It was that culinary passion that her mother credits with keeping her spirits up during her hospital stays and treatment when she was unable to do what most kindergartners do.
“She spent a lot of time watching television,” Cleeve said. “Even above cartoons, except ‘Sponge Bob,’ she watched cooking shows. She found solace with watching (food shows) even when she couldn’t eat anything.”
Ella followed intently several on-air chefs. When her mother asked her why, Ella said the chefs she liked the most were those who had their families in the kitchen cooking together.
Ella’s on the road to recovery and doctors say that she has 60 percent to 70 percent chance of surviving. Those odds improve every day she doesn’t have a relapse.
Make-A-Wish Foundation approached the family about fulfilling a wish for Ella. It was no small wonder that the girl asked to meet a famous chef and watch a television show being taped.
Giving Ella part of her wish, PCC Natural Markets gave a cooking class with Iole Aguero, who was raised in southern Italy, focusing on one of Ella’s favorite foods — pasta. Ella and her friends were treated to a hands-on class in making pasta from scratch into a complete meal at the grocery group’s Edmonds store.
Ella has also taped a KING-TV cooking segment of “Gardening with Ciscoe” with Meeghan Black and PCC chef Lynne Vea, slated to air Saturday.
“Meeghan and Lynne made Ella so comfortable,” Cleeve said. “But every time they would walk away from the kitchen, Ella would somehow wander back in.”
Six-year-old Ella Sultan is scheduled to appear on the regular cooking segment with Meeghan Black and PCC Natural Markets chef Lynne Vea during the “Gardening with Ciscoe” show 10:30 to 11 a.m. Saturday on KING-TV, Channel 5.