When Kids Face the Chopping Block: Ted Allen on the Astonishing Maturity of Chopped Junior Competitorsby Joseph Erdos in Shows, October 11th, 2015
“I’m over-the-moon excited with how fun this series is,” said Ted Allen when we chatted on the set of the new kids’ competition show, Chopped Junior, premiering on Tuesday, Oct. 27 at 8|7c. Ted hosts the series, in which 10- to 14 -year-olds compete in a very mature arena. The Chopped set may be decked out in primary colors, but the challenge is the same: Transform a set of basket ingredients into a cohesive dish that’s flavorful and well-presented. But these kids, unlike most, can do just that — they’re halfway to being adults when it comes to knowing food.
“These are kids who really love to cook, who have been inculcated with the values of chefs,” said Ted, adding that just like professional chefs, the kid competitors want to cook real, fresh, unprocessed foods. Give them a frozen pizza bite, Ted gave as an example, and they will “lecture you about the ingredients that are in processed foods.” These kids know their stuff, whether it’s how to use a unique ingredient like lemongrass or how to dice an onion like a pro. And Ted was floored by the kids’ mastery of tastes. “They know that if something’s too sweet, you have to balance it with something acidic, like lemon juice or lime juice or vinegar. They like vinegar. They like things that are bitter.” Is there anything that these kids are bad at?