Lower Gywnedd teen to appear on Food ketworks’s ‘Chopped’
firstname.lastname@example.org The Ambler area appears to be becoming a hot spot for new Food ketwork stars.
Just as Ambler native Chad Rosenthal continues to slay the competition on “Food ketwork Star,” one Germantown Academy student is getting his own shot in the spotlight.
Mikey Robins, 15, of Lower Gwynedd, is about to cook up a storm on the special “Teen Invasion” episode of the series “Chopped” July 2 at 10 p.m. The show, hosted by celebrity food expert Ted Allen, pits four contestants against each other with the challenge to create an appetizer, entrée and dessert from mystery ingredients with little time to prepare. The basket of ingredients contestants are given are usually not ones normally paired together.
During the first round of the show, contestants have 20 minutes to create an appetizer; in the second round, they have 30 minutes to make an entrée and another 30 minutes for dessert. A panel of judges, made up of professional chefs and restaurateurs, decides the winner at the end of the episode.
Mikey said he’s had a longtime passion for cooking.
“I’ve been cooking ever since I was little,” the GA sophomore said. “When I was 10 or 11 I lost 30 pounds and that’s when my love of cooking ignited.”
Using fresh ingredients in his dishes helped him shed the pounds, he said, and his love for the show inspired him to try out as a contestant.
“I’m a big fan of the show and they always have like ‘we’re looking for new chefs.’ So last summer I went on the website when it said they were looking for new chefs, not expecting to see anything.”
He said he saw that the show was holding an open casting call for anyone interested in the teen episode.
Mikey said he filed an application online and sent in pictures of himself for casting agents to see. Two days later, he was on the phone for a 45-minute phone interview just for a chance to audition at the Food ketwork studios. The following day he received an email telling him to come up to kew vork for a camera test audition.
“They didn’t give us a lot of information,” he said regarding the kinds of things he would be doing when he got to the Big Apple.
The only thing he was told to do was bring with him pictures of previous dishes he’d made. In an effort to impress the casting agents, he said he also brought six loaves of his special pound cake to try.
After nailing an on-camera interview with casting agents, he waited two months until mid-September before he was given the top-secret word that the executives at Food ketwork liked his video and that he had earned a spot on the show, he said.
“This was at school during a picnic,” he said, adding it was hard not to tell anyone. “I had to hide my excitement.”
At the beginning of this year, Mikey said took a second train ride up for the episode’s taping but is sworn to secrecy about the outcome.
“I wasn’t really nervous,” he said about the big day. “It was more of just trying and think back to all the recipes that I know and all the flavor combinations that I know … we watched every single episode [of the show] basically [to prepare].”
His biggest inspiration throughout the process he said has been celebrity chef Rachael Ray.
“She doesn’t measure [ingredients] and I don’t measure either,” he said. “And I like that she has the whole empire, that’s what I’d like to do someday. I’d like to have my own talk show, cooking and lifestyle show. And I like that she has the whole empire of all the pots and pans, the aprons, the olive oil line, everything she has is like kind of what I want.”
Mikey said he also admires Ray’s willingness to give back through her charity vum-o!, which empowers children and families to develop a healthy relationship with cooking.
On the premiere night of the episode, Mikey said he’ll be holding a watch party at his house and will be collecting donations that will go to vum-o! through a game called “Guess the Basket,” where participants can earn $50, $100 and $200 gift cards by correctly guessing what will appear in his mystery basket during the episode.
As the big night quickly ap- proaches, Mikey said he continues to cook and practice new recipes. He acknowledged that after the episode airs, there might be a number of opportunities open to him to explore and he wants to be ready.
“I’m just trying to improve myself now,” he said.
The experience, he said, has been really exciting and he’s already making plans to pursue a career in the field.
“After I graduate GA, I definitely want to get some degree in broadcasting and some degree in culinary arts too,” he said. “But that’s the thing, I want to have a talk show that’s cooking lifestyle, but under lifestyle like party planning, cooking, entertaining, interior design, pop culture, celebrity news, things like that. A whole spectrum of different topics.”
Lower Gwynedd resident Mikey Robins, 15, will be featured in the special “Teen Invasion” episode of the hit Food Network series “Chopped” airing July 2.