Cooking competitions have never been more fierce. And when you get talent as young as La Mirada's Bella Coonis proudly representing Southern California on Food Network, it gets even more exciting! Earlier this year, the Coonis family flew out to New York City to create tonight's Chopped Junior episode. Filmed when she was only 12 years-old, this newly minted teenager shows us what she's made of tonight. We spent a few moments discussing her experience on the show.
How was the competition for you?
The competition was very fun, and I had very hard competitors. All three of my competitors are very good chefs, and are now friends.
What was it like being a competitor versus a spectator? Did you learn anything about how TV shows operate?
Being a competitor instead of the spectator was a lot different. There was a lot of pressure when the clock started. Although it was very stressful, my amazing family helped me prepare for the competition by bringing me over a basket of mystery ingredients. When you watch the show on television, it is different because the room you cook in is smaller, some things are operated differently than you think they would be, and others are exactly like how they are on television.
Did you visit any restaurants while you were in NYC?
My favorite restaurant I visited was Butter by Alex Guarnaschelli, who is actually one of my favorite chefs. When my mom, dad and I went there, we got gnocchi mac 'n cheese, homemade pappardelle with spicy lamb sausage and New York strip steak with bone marrow butter. Then we ordered a pan seared branzino with carrots. Lastly, a double cut, smoked pork chop with kale. We also went to La Lanterna di Vittorio. They have an amazing Italian restaurant with the best cheese lasagna.
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And before we forget, here's a quick description of tonight's show:
Chefs Kardea Brown and Amanda Freitag are joined by actor Andrew Rannells to judge a very fishy competition! Some sugary items in the first basket have the competitors wondering how to create balanced fish dishes, and time management issues create big problems for one junior chef and a difficult choice for the judges. Canned pasta and an extremely salty veggie are two of the entree round ingredients, then an injury in the dessert round puts one finalist in jeopardy of ruining their dish.
Set your DVRs or tune in at 5 p.m. our time to cheer for Bella!