Brooklyn 10-Year-Old Competes on Hit Show “Chopped Junior”

Not many 10 year olds can say they’ve competed in a professional cooking competition broadcasted on television, but Park Slope native Callum McGeory can. McGeory, who said he has been cooking with his grandpa since he was 4 years old, is set to make his first TV debut this month on the eighth season of Food Network’s “Chopped Junior,” a spinoff of the hit culinary show “Chopped.”

“I’ve been watching ‘Chopped’ probably the same amount of time I’ve been cooking,” McGeory told AM New York. “I remember watching ‘Chopped’ in my grandma’s living room.”

The episode, which is titled “Slime the Competition!” will air on July 16 at 9 p.m. on the Food Network channel. Viewers will tune in to watch McGeory compete against three other junior chefs to win a prize of $10,000, plus a special “Chopped Junior” chef coat.

Besides the fact that contestants are kids instead of grown adults, the show’s structure is similar to its predecessor—“Chopped Junior” contestants get 30 minutes to whip up a meal during an appetizer, entrée, and dessert round. To add on to this pressure, the chef competitors must also incorporate certain mystery ingredients into their dishes that they find in baskets at the beginning of each round. Judges then taste each dish and rate them on presentation, taste, and texture, until they come to a decision of whom they must “chop” or eliminate before the next round. A victor is crowned at the end of the dessert round, after the final two competing chefs have faced each other head-to-head.

The panel of three judges for this episode includes celebrity chefs Maneet Chauhan, Scott Conant, and special guest judge Clinton Kelly. McGeory said that he does not remember a time where he was not in the kitchen, especially since his grandfather started teaching him how to cook early on in his life. He also said he owes part of his culinary skills to his mom, from observing her while she was cooking in the kitchen.

“It’s really fun to cook with [my grandpa] because he’s really good at cooking and he shows me all these tips,” McGeory said. “He taught me how to dice vegetables, which is really a good skill to have. I’d say I can cut things pretty fast.”

In “Slime the Competition!” viewers will get to see McGeory and his competitors incorporate the following surprise ingredients into their dishes: alligator tenderloin for the appetizer round, edible slime for the entrée round, and milk and cereal for the dessert round. McGeory said he wasn’t too psyched out when he opened his mystery basket to find alligator tenderloin. While most 10-year-olds would struggle to remain calm at the notion of cooking with alligator, he had tasted it before and remembered that he could convert the chicken-like gator into nuggets for his dish.

When he grows up, McGeory said he hopes to use his culinary skills to open up his own restaurant, which would feature a fusion of Italian-American cuisine.

“I’d want to start by working at someone else’s [restaurant] and learn from them,” McGeory said. “Then, I would want to open up my own restaurant.”

McGeory claimed he was ecstatic when his mom told him he had made it onto the show after applying.

“I was super excited, like jumping up and down screaming. I got to cook in front of really good chefs.” McGeory said.

Out of all the things that came with competing on “Chopped Junior,” such as meeting other fellow kid-chefs, getting to now the famous judges, and hanging out with the show’s host, Ted Allen, McGeory said his favorite part was cooking in the “Chopped” kitchen.

“[The kitchen] was really nice and everything was where it was suppose to be, so you were two steps away from the oven and then your countertop was right there,” McGeory said. “The pantry had so much stuff in it, like everything you would want to cook with.”

McGeory said he is planning on watching the episode with his family, who cannot wait to see how the episode plays out. McGeory said that his grandpa in particular was especially excited.

“{My grandpa] was pretty happy for me and also proud,” McGeory said. “He said that I was becoming a good chef.”