Ted Allen introduces 4 new kid chefs to compete in today’s episode.
13 year old Liam Dertinger from Staten Island, NY. If he wins he wants to donate the money to the homeless since he knows some people don’t have anywhere to live. “I can win Chopped Junior because I have knowledge and expertise of culinary abilities.”
12 year old AJ Espinoza from Freeport, NY. Her heritage is Italian and Ecuadorian, and she likes to cook pasta. “I’m a natural comedian. My extra, special, secret ingredient is to have a good humor in the kitchen.”
10 year old Sarah Hullihen from Vineland, NJ. She is an advanced student and also likes to play sports. “I love, love, love to cook. I have a ‘Jersey fresh’ style of cooking. Means there’s a lot of farm stands in my area.”
And, 12 year old Jayla Hill, from LA, CA. Her mom taught her how to cook and now she has pies, chocolate covered strawberry and cupcake businesses. “At school I’m in a leadership class and I want to help the school expand and do better things.”
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!” The judges are Chopped regular Chef Marc Murphy, Actor & Musician, James Maslow & former Chopped Champion, Chef & Entrepreneur Lazarus Lynch. The guest judges are excited to be here, and Marc says, “Some of these kids we’ve been seeing coming through “Chopped Junior” are just nailing it!”
For the Appetizer Round they must cook with Ground Beef, Spinach, Chive Blossoms and Presidential Chocolates. Ted says, “You have thirty minutes to solve this culinary riddle. The clock starts now!”
Liam made Bacon Gruyère Chive Sider with Spinach Pesto. Lazarus says the meat is nice and juicy. James says it is like a gourmet burger, “Nice job!” Marc agrees the burger is good, but he wants more herbs in the pesto for more flavor, and the chocolate shot is not very well incorporated into the dish.
AJ made Spinach & Beef Salad with Spicy Chocolate Vinaigrette. Both Lazarus and James loved the mozzarella in the dish. Marc says the sauce is too sweet, it needed less chocolate and more balsamic vinegar.
Sarah made Open-Faced Slider with Spinach. Lazarus likes the presentation. Marc likes how the meat is seared and smart use of the chive blossoms, but not enough chocolate. All the judges wished there was more than one slider.
And Jayla made Beef Taco with Carrot, Spinach & Chive Coleslaw and Spicy Chocolate Sauce. Lazarus likes the cayenne with chocolate and says the sauce is very luscious. James is surprise he likes the chocolate in the appetizer. Marc says the spinach and chive combo is a good idea, but it is too oniony. Less chives.
Cloche up and the one chopped is … AJ since her chocolate vinaigrette was not very successful. She says, “The chocolate was really hard, you know, but I’m actually proud of what I did. I’m going to continue working hard. And win or lose, I still got to meet James and Ted Allen. So, that was really cool.”
For the Entrée Round Sarah, Liam and Jayla must cook with Pork Tenderloin, Baked Potato Cake, Mouscron Mushrooms and Thumbelina Carrots. “Thirty minutes is back on the clock, and we are starting it now!”
Liam made Pan-Seared Pork Tenderloin with Mushroom Cream Sauce. Lazarus likes the presentation of the medallions and the use of sauce. James likes the sweetness of the sauce and the carrots but notes his are a little burned. Marc says the pork is slightly pink as it should be, but the carrots needed to cut more evenly so they would cook more evenly. “Knife skills are a big part of cooking.”
Jayla made Pan-Seared Pork Tenderloin with Vegetable Medley. Lazarus says, “This pork is cooked absolutely perfectly. It’s so moist. It’s delicious. It’s like running my knife through butter.” But James says the sauce is too sweet. Marc agrees and says it should have been cooked with onions, cream, butter and just a little bit of the vanilla cake. “But, nicely done on the pork. Nicely done on the little vegetable medley.”
And Sarah made Pork Tenderloin Stir-Fry with Mushrooms & Carrots. Her bite size chunks of pork are creative, but unfortunately made her meat dry. Lazarus says the dish needed a sauce. And Marc says, “Your idea was a great idea. I think if you had more time you could have really nailed this dish.”
Cloche is up the next one chopped is … Sarah since her pork was a little dry and needed a sauce. She says, “The time just got to me. But I think this will make me a better chef because whether you win or lose builds up character.”
For the Dessert Round Liam and Jayla must cook with Trail Mix, Gelatin Parfait, Whipped Honey and Red Delicious Apples. “Clock set at thirty minutes again. Let’s start it up now!”
Jayla made a Fruit Tart with Greek Yogurt Sauce. Lazarus likes the clean presentation and textures and how she is balancing the sweetness with salt and lemon juice. Marc agrees, but the big piece of licorice was a problem. “It’s a little jarring to be eating a fruit tart and all of a sudden come about a big piece of candy.”
And Liam made Apple & Mixed Berry Compote with Brown Sugar & Graham Cracker Crust. Again, Lazarus likes the presentation and James loves the crispy crust and the sweetness. But Marc disagrees, “The level of sweetness is way up there. It’s a lot of sugar.”
So, whose dish is on the chopping block? … Jayla since she had some flaws in each round. She says, “I’m going to keep my head up because I think I did really good. And, after being on Chopped I hope I get a lot more orders for my businesses.”
That means LIAM DERTINGER is the Chopped Jr Champion! He wins $10,000 and the coveted Chopped Jr. Chef’s Jacket! Liam says “It feels amazing to be a Chopped Champion and I think this win can inspire other kids to follow their dreams. Nothing is impossible, and your dreams can become reality.” He is still cooking today and has dyed his hair in many colors since the show. 😊