Max’s Chopped JR Recap “Three Ring Kitchen”

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Ted Allen introduces 4 new kid chefs to compete in today’s episode.

10 year old Sam Khemlani from Rye, NY is influenced by her family heritages, Jewish and Indian cooking. Sam is inspired by female chefs and wants to be a trailblazer too.

10 year old Liam Pignolet from Waialua, HI is influenced by Japanese, American and Polynesian cooking popular on the islands. Liam is an extremely adventurous eater and has tried lots of crazy things, like pig ear, pig eyeball, fish eyeball and fried scorpion

10 year old Megan Hackett from West Orange, NJ. She is influenced by soul foods and southern cooking. Megan loves singing and dancing, she says she was born to perform.

And 11 year old Tanner Waxman from Hersey, PA. He is influenced by his dad’s work in food photography. When he grows up, Tanner either wants to be a chef or a professional football player.

In the Chopped Kitchen there are three rounds with mandatory mystery ingredients for every course. Ted says, “If your dish doesn’t cut it, you will be chopped!” Today the contestants will cook with circus food! Chopped Kitchen regular Geoffrey Zakarian is joined by two guest judges, Sunny Anderson, co-host on Food Network “The Kitchen” and actor, Ryan Guzman.

For the Appetizer Round the baskets ingredients are Corn Dogs, Avocados, Corn on a Stick and Circus Cookies.

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Sam makes a Corn Dog Hash with Sweet Avocado Cream. Ryan says the presentation is “on point.” Geoffrey says the use of the cookie was “really smart” but the chili bites were too big. And Sunny loves the dill garnish.

Liam makes Hot Dog Grilled Cheese Sandwich with Avocado Corn Salsa. Sunny likes how the sandwich is portable and how she walk around with it. Geoffrey likes the vinegar in the salsa but thinks it needs more salt. Ryan says he got the best dish, his cheese was melted perfectly, and the salsa was refreshing, “You did an awesome job.”

Megan makes Corn Dog and Kale Circus Salad with Avocado and Cookie Crumble. Ryan likes the salad, but he and Geoffrey wish the dressing had some olive oil. Sunny suggests massaging the kale before serving it raw, makes it “less of a hard chew.” But overall, she says the salad is delicious.

And Tanner, who cuts his finger and loses a lot of time, does not give up. “The show must go on!” He makes a Corn Dog Taco with Guacamole and Sweet ‘N Spicy Sauce. The dish is seasoned well and brightened by the lime zest. Both Sunny and Geoffrey liked the salty feta, but Ryan says the peppers would have been better if they were cooked.

And the first young cook to be chopped is…. Sam since her hash needed an egg and the chili slices were too big. She says, “This experience in the Chopped Kitchen has been exhilarating. Even though I got chopped, I’m not going to give up my cooking dreams. My female role models never gave up, so neither am I.”

For the Entrée Round Liam, Megan and Tanner must cook with Sliders, Heirloom Tomatoes, Tiger Tails and Jester Potatoes.

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Megan makes Pasta with Cheese Tomato Sauce and Potato Chips. Ryan says, “It tastes incredible.” Geoffrey says she used the basket well in her dish, but the cheese would have better in a béchamel. Sunny loves that the dish is seasoned well. When Megan is not cooking she likes to Beat Box – and Sunny sings along – “Megan, on Chopped Junior, cooking, the second round. Mac and cheese, didn’t go down. Pasta cheese, in town. What?”

Tanner makes Slider with Mashed Potatoes, Fried Tomatoes and Asparagus. Sunny says the presentation is perfect (remember his dad the food photographer), but Geoffrey wants to see the burger transformed and doesn’t like the sweet Tiger Tail crumbs on top of the dish. Ryan wonders what he will do with the money if he wins and Tanner says he wants to upgrade his kitchen for his dad.

And Liam makes Tiger Chili with Potatoes, Tomatoes and Sliders. Sunny likes the texture of the cabbage and friendly amount of heat. Geoffrey says it was “really, really good use of the slider,” but some of the potatoes are a little undercooked. Ryan wishes the dish was bigger, it is so good.

And the second young cook chopped is … Tanner since burger untransformed and too sweet. Tanner says, “I’m definitely proud of myself. I did the best of my ability. I think I did good. I’m a huge fighter and I won’t stop no matter what!”

For the Dessert Round Liam and Megan must cook with Carmel Apples, Concord Grapes, Elephant Ears and Circus Peanuts.

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Megan makes Megan’s Sweet and Sour Fruit Compote Over Powdered Sugar Elephant Ear. Ryan likes how Megan changed plans when something didn’t work and thinks her dessert is “amazing.” Geoffrey says the topping is perfect blend of sweet and sour flavors. Sunny says she wishes for something more fun with the Elephant Ear. Megan says if she wins she wants to start an organization to help inner city kid follow their dreams.

And Liam makes Circus Peanut Banana Split with Apple & Concord Grape Sauce. Sunny likes how the dish is so much fun and that the deep friend Elephant Ear is nice and crunchy. But Ryan thinks it is a little overcooked. Both Ryan and Geoffrey think the ice cream is amazing. And Geoffrey likes the different textures, but the presentation could be better. Liam says he really wants to be the first person from Hawaii to win Chopped.

And the final young home cook chopped is … Megan. Sunny says, “Megan, you are an excellent chef. You have the ability to make decisions on the fly, which a lot of chefs don’t. You should be very proud of yourself. But the choice of cheese for the pasta was off and you could have had more fun with Elephant Ear.” Liam gives Megan a hug goodbye and it is so sweet, even Geoffrey tears up. Megan says, “Even though I didn’t win the $10,000 to start the organization, I’m still going to try and make art, music and cooking a possibility for other kids.”

And that means LIAM PIGNOLET is the Chopped Junior Champion!

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He says, “This is one of the coolest things that happened to me in my 10 years. I feel like I’m making Hawaii proud and getting the $10,000 is really amazing.”

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