Two South Jersey teens are competing on Food Network's Chopped Teen Tournament, a five-part stunt that features 16 culinary whiz kids who are given ingredients and are asked to make magic.
Winners from each episode will head to the finale on Aug. 12, where the winner gets $25,000 and a culinary school scholarship.
Alexandria Brooks, 16, of Voorhees, competes on the premiere Tuesday, July 15 (10 p.m.). She's been cooking for seven or eight years, she told me, and got the bug by watching cooking shows. At 8, she was allowed to solo and made a mac and cheese that was "far from traditional." It had heavy cream, penne pasta, chopped ham, parmesan, mozzarella and white cheeses - no cheddar. On this Chopped, the mystery ingredients included lamb loin chops and kale chips in the appetizer round and french fries and cookies in the entrée round. As Brooks enters 11th grade at Eastern Regional, she has a food blog, YouTube channel and is a teen contributor for Miss Moxie online magazine. This summer, she is working at Kingside restaurant in Manhattan doing prep and utility work. Hmm. Its chef, Marc Murphy, was a judge on her episode.
Dante Foggy, 17, of Burlington Township, gets his moment in the spotlight on July 22. He said he also started cooking young with his grandparents and mom. He knew back then that cooking was his future. "It's something I'm really good at," he said, matter-of-factly. "I'm not going to be a doctor or a lawyer. I’m going to be a chef." He will be a senior this year at Burlington County Institute of Technology and hopes to attend Johnson & Wales. His show had shrimp and jalapeños in the appetizer round, and frog legs for the entree. "I came in there confident," he said. "I figured, if I got this far, it was OK. There's not many people who can say they were in high school and got to compete on national TV."