Tulsa World

Former Tulsa mom and son to compete on ‘Top Chef Family Style’

- JAMES D. WATTS JR. james.watts@tulsaworld.com

When Taylor Ellison applied for a spot on the inaugural season of the cooking competitio­n “Top Chef Family Style,” he had no doubt about the family member with whom he would share the stove.

“Not at all,” the 10-yearold aspiring chef said. “Dad sucks at cooking. Well, he taught me how to grill, but that’s all he’s good at.”

“He made souffles last night,” interjecte­d his mother, Elizabeth Frame Ellison.

“Yes, he made souffles, but that was new,” Taylor said.

The truth of the matter is that mother and son have been cooking together for a long time, so it only made sense that Taylor and Ellison would be a team for the latest variation of the “Top Chef” brand.

“Cooking together has always been our thing,” Taylor said. “When we go on vacations, we try to do a cooking class together. It’s just more fun to cook with Mom.

“And Dad and I like to go fishing,” he added, “so that’s our thing together.”

Taylor, who was 9 years old at the time of filming the series, and Ellison, who

is president and CEO of the Lobeck Taylor Family Foundation that created and oversees the Mother Road Market in Tulsa, make up one of

the 13 teams of competitor­s on “Top Chef Family Style,”

which will debut Thursday, Sept. 9, on the Peacock streaming service.

The first two episodes will be available Thursday, with subsequent episodes appearing each Thursday following.

The competitio­n, hosted

by Grammy Award-winning singer Meghan Trainor and acclaimed chef Marcus Samuelsson, who serves as head judge, features young cooks, each paired with a family member who will serve as sous chef.

As in other versions of “Top Chef,” the contestant­s will go through a service of Quickfire and Eliminatio­n Challenges that will winnow the ranks down to a single winning team, which will earn a $50,000 cash prize.

During the competitio­n, the contestant­s will be able to win other prizes, from cash awards of up to $10,000, to trips to attend pro football games, tours of the Food & Wine test kitchen, and visits to the Universal Orlando Resort’s theme parks.

The contestant­s also had to create dishes centered on Halloween and Thanksgivi­ng themes, as well as a dessert challenge based on YouTube personalit­y JoJo Siwa.

Taylor Ellison got interested in cooking when the family was still living in Tulsa. He would pick vegetables from the family’s garden, and later would begin trying his hand at making salads.

The family relocated to the San Francisco area when Taylor was 5, where he became interested in baking — and discovered that people were willing to pay for what he made.

“I wanted to have a bake sale,” he said. “So we made a bunch of chocolate chip cookies, and we got this little wagon and put a board over it and a blanket and went outside the garage and sold cookies. After that night we realized we made $80 to $100. So every weekend we made different types of cookies.”

Taylor began cooking more seriously during the COVID-19 lockdown, making lunches for his parents who were working at home and practicing the grilling he learned from his father.

“We love watching cooking shows, and Taylor is a big fan of ‘Top Chef Jr.,’” Ellison said. “So when we learned they were auditionin­g for this show, we thought it was an awesome opportunit­y.”

Still, Ellison said, she did have some moments of trepidatio­n.

“I always love seeing Taylor at work in the kitchen, even if I’m always worrying about little fingers and big knives,” she said. “But he was really great to watch during the show. His confidence was really inspiring. We’d go into every challenge with

Taylor saying, ‘We’ve got this,’ and me saying, ‘I don’t

think we’re going to be able to finish!’

“But Taylor is such a creative chef,” Ellison said. “He’ll throw in a little bit of this, a little bit of that, and see how it will come out. It was great to see him really express himself through the food he makes.”

 ?? COURTESY, SMALLZ & RASKIND/PEACOCK ?? Former Tulsans Elizabeth Frame Ellison and her son Taylor are among the competitor­s for “Top Chef Family Style,” which begins streaming on Peacock Sept. 9.
COURTESY, SMALLZ & RASKIND/PEACOCK Former Tulsans Elizabeth Frame Ellison and her son Taylor are among the competitor­s for “Top Chef Family Style,” which begins streaming on Peacock Sept. 9.

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