Watch Claire Hollingsworth open up the "Chopped Junior" basket tonight at 8 p.m. (Photo courtesy of Food Network)
There's always discussion in the food world about educating the next generation of chefs; the topic usually applies to a new wave of cooks old enough to enter the workplace, but for some, diving into cooking class starts as early as elementary school. Take Claire Hollingsworth, for example: one of two Richmond contestants putting their culinary skills to the test on an episode of "Chopped Junior" premiering tonight.
"My earliest memory is when I made a chocolate cake with my dad and I got it all over my face!" she says, fresh out of school for the day. Though she's 10 years old now, her time in the kitchen began at the age of three. After years of cooking at home with her father and countless Edible Education youth culinary classes, she was finally ready for the big time: Tonight, you can catch Hollingsworth, along with fellow Richmonder Emily Waters, on the Food Network T.V. show where talented child cooks create courses from secret ingredients only revealed to them just before the timer begins. No recipes. No preparation. No help from an adult.
"I got really excited — and nervous, though — because I didn't know if I would make it," she says. "Because I'd not made it for ["Rachel Ray's Kids Cook-Off," another Food Network show], I was a little bit nervous, but here I am now!"
After submitting a video of herself (spoiler alert: It's adorable) and sitting through multiple phone interviews, Hollingsworth trekked up to New York City in mid-August to tape "Cuteness Overload," the episode airing tonight at 8 p.m. What's more, you can meet both Hollingsworth and Waters tonight at The Steward School at 6 p.m. They'll both be judging the (free!) RVA Kids Cooking Challenge event, which includes a cook-off, screening of "Cuteness Overload," and a donation to FeedMore.
You'll have to watch the episode to see how far the two cooks got in the challenge, or just which secret ingredients threw them for a loop, but Hollingsworth says there were definitely a few surprises: "I was definitely surprised by [an ingredient] in the first round. I can't tell you what it is, but we'll say the one that looks the weirdest and then you'll probably have a guess when you see it."
The Steward School is located at 11600 Gayton Road. If you can't catch tonight's premiere, check out the full "Cuteness Overload" viewing schedule.