David, yes your post makes a lot of sense. I agree with your opinions of fine dining being such a leap for these kids. Many of the foods you mention will be so foreign to them that they probably wouldn't even enjoy the flavor - yet it would be wonderful if you could expose them to some of them. Who's to say that you couldn't take some of their native dishes and turn those into something spectacular. Take a look at Bobby Flay, he is famous for his southwestern cuisine served at his fine dining establishments. Theres no reason why the kids couldn't work on some native style dishes to serve at the competition -- it will just take some creativity.
Take a look at this menu from one of Bobby Flay's restuarants. It might give you some ideas -- start with things they are familiar with as the base and then introduce them to the things that take that dish to the next level.