Young Chefs to Square Off in Culinary Competition

Pantry items

Fans of reality TV cooking competitions like Master Chef and The Taste won’t want to miss Tenleytown’s very own Third Annual Chopped Championship. This Saturday, three teams of four competitors each will face off in a fierce competition as Whole Foods Market transforms its produce section into an arena for a culinary showdown. This battle will have all the drama of its more famous television counterpart and just as much talent. But spectators might notice one key difference – all the chefs are under the age of 15. Don’t let their ages fool you, though. These kids know how to cook. 

Participants in the Chopped Championship are members of the Alice Deal Middle School cooking club, which meets monthly in the school’s cafeteria. Members not only learn culinary techniques, but are also introduced to a variety of fresh vegetables and recipes for healthier eating. Allison Godfrey, the Healthy Eating Specialist for Whole Foods Market who helps lead the cooking classes, says that she makes it a point to use a vegetable, from cauliflower to kale, in every recipe. “It was a small goal of mine through these classes to show [the kids] just how much they can like – and even love – vegetables,” says Godfrey.

In early May, cooking club members put to the test the skills they learned during the school year for the Chopped Semi-Finals. For those not familiar with the Chopped format, teams of chefs must work with secret ingredients revealed just moments before the competition begins. For the semi-finals the teams faced lemon, Swiss chard, and quinoa. “I’ve had people twice their age tell me that they don’t even know what to do with those foods,” says Godfrey, “so it was really impressive to see the kids in action.”

The winning team from each semi-final round, along with a wild card team, will compete on May 30 on the culinary stage at Whole Foods. Once again they will face three mystery ingredients that they must incorporate into their final presentations. Last year, the teams turned shrimp, shallots, and summer squash into amazing dishes, so we can’t wait to see what they come up with on Saturday.

After a mad dash up the Whole Foods aisles to shop for their remaining ingredients, the teams will have just one hour to cook. Judges will sample the dishes and select the winning team based upon presentation, taste, and teamwork. The winners not only get bragging rights, but the honor of having their dish sold in the Whole Foods hot bar throughout June, as well.

Mark your calendars now and plan to come out to cheer on the Chopped Championship chefs. Who knows, you might even come away with some inspiration for your own table. The competition begins at 10:00 a.m. on Saturday, May 30 in the Whole Foods Market produce section. And don’t forget to say hello; Tenleytown, D.C. is thrilled to be back at the judges table this year.