One-on-One with the Season 2 Chopped Teen Grand Champion

Read the interview with the champion of Chopped Teen Tournament.
Show: Chopped

Photo by: David Lang ©2015, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved.

David Lang, 2015, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved.

On tonight's finale, the four teen winners from the earlier preliminary rounds entered the Chopped kitchen one more time. This last battle would determine who would win the $25,000 prize and the coveted title, which in itself brings bragging rights for a kid in high school. The teens had to face challenging mystery baskets that no amount of practice could enable anyone to predict, while also being creative, cooking flavorfully and presenting dishes that appealed to the judges. But nothing could truly prepare them for the pressure and the time constraints. Ultimately one of them rose to the top with three courses that earned the championship title and the $25,000.

The Baskets

Appetizer: tuna in oil, sugar snap peas, fruit candy squares, gnocchi

Entree: tilefish, baby Planet carrots, chanterelle mushrooms, corned beef hash

Dessert: coconut chips, a Shirley Temple, quail eggs, chocolate wafer cake

Elimination Details
First round: Peter
Second round: Alexina
Final round: Yazmene
Winner: Veronica

Judges: Chris Santos, Alex Guarnaschelli, Amanda Freitag

More from this Episode

Teen Chopped champion 15 year old Veronica Seguin stands before Chopped host Ted Allen and judges: Chris Santos, Alex Guarnaschelli and Amanda Freitag moments after finding out she has won $25,0000 and the title of Chopped Grand Champion for Chopped Teen Week $25,000 tournament, as seen on Food Network's Chopped, Season 25.

Photo by: David Lang ©2015, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved.

David Lang, 2015, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved.

For Veronica the challenge in the finale was trying to match or outdo the successes she had in her preliminary round. This time the basket ingredients gave her pause, especially in the entree round, which saw her facing the challenge of filleting fish, something she hadn't attempted before. Working on so many components in the appetizer round left her meatballs burnt, but luckily a pesto saved her dish. For dessert, Veronica tried to pull off another cake-and-ice cream combination like before, although she didn't do it as successfully. Luckily for her, it was still a strong dish. In the end the race was so tight that determining the winner for the judges came down to a photo finish.

What are you feeling right now? What's going through your mind?

Veronica: Umm, $25,000 … like, what? Like, that's amazing — an enormous amount of money that will be mine. That, I can't even imagine. And that's what's going through my mind … comprehending that.

So this morning when you were getting ready to come here, what was your mentality like?

Veronica: This morning my mentality was, "If I can do it once, I can do it again." But then after meeting the competitors — I saw Yazmene and I saw that little tot of Peter and I was like, "Oh, no. He's little, but he's probably got a big punch," and I was scared to death.

So how did this time compare to your previous round in the tournament? What was different about it?

Veronica: Today was more stressful and more competitive and a lot more challenging because the basket ingredients were harder, and I was stumped on all three rounds. So that's one of my biggest downfalls today.

Host Ted Allen checks in on Teen Chopped champion 15 year old Veronica Seguin as she works on her entree that must include: whole tile fish, baby planet carrots, chanterelle mushrooms and corned beef hash for Chopped Teen Week $25,000 tournament, as seen on Food Network's Chopped, Season 25.

Photo by: David Lang ©2015, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved.

David Lang, 2015, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved.

What do you think was your hardest basket today?

Veronica: Entree. They could tell — the judges could tell from eating it and from seeing me that I was stumped. And it was the fish that threw me off, because while I did expect it, I didn't actually think I'd see that big fish eye staring at me, and I was like, "I don't want to see you right now. Please go back to the sea." And just butchering that threw me off, and I didn't have time to think of what ideas I was going [to put] on the plate.

Talk about some of the struggles you had with the fish. It looked as though you spent a lot of time picking at the fillet for pin bones.

Veronica: I've never filleted a fish in my life and I didn't know how to check for bones, so I just started like touching it like "Are there bones in here?" And then I was just, like … I saw online that you should just cut off the middle, so I just cut off the middle — like the blood line.

What made you put the slice of bread on the plate? It sounded like you were going to do an open-faced sandwich but maybe ran out of time.

Veronica: I made the same mistake I did first round of the first competition by putting raw bread on the plate. I wasn't even thinking. … I was … so, like, baffled by the fish that I was thrown off the whole round, I couldn't think … . "Oh, the French eat bread; let me just put a piece of bread on this plate" and … bad idea.

With your appetizer round, the judges couldn't stop pointing out the flaws with the meatballs. What happened there?

Veronica: So, the meatballs. … I'd actually been there the whole time, but because … I was busy doing other stuff and I filled up my time with other things, I forgot about them for 5 minutes. [I] came back, they were burnt, and I was like, "I'll just keep cooking them," which was stupid. I should have cut off the burnt part immediately before I let the … whole thing be cooked in burntness.

Teen Chopped champion 15 year old Veronica Seguin works on her dessert that must include: toasted coconut chips, Shirley Temple (drink), quail eggs and a chocolate wafer cake for Chopped Teen Week $25,000 tournament, as seen on Food Network's Chopped, Season 25.

Photo by: David Lang ©2015, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved.

David Lang, 2015, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved.

When it came to dessert, what made you decide to do the same cake-and-ice cream pairing again? Were you afraid to risk making something new?

Veronica: I thought I was taking a risk again, but I wasn't. I really wasn't. I just stayed in my comfort zone and I wasn't going out of the box at all, and Chris and Alex were not impressed. … So I just thought, "Oh, I'll look super cool doing ice cream again, so let me impress them again," but it was worse than before, and they judged it against what I had done before.

What did you like most about competing both times?

Veronica: Meeting new people who also have a passion for food and cooking like me, because they all have such great personalities and they're all so talented, and I'm going to stay in touch with them. That's the best part.

Teen Chopped champion 15 year old Veronica Seguin stands before Chopped host Ted Allen and judges: Chris Santos, Alex Guarnaschelli and Amanda Freitag moments after finding out she has won $25,0000 and the title of Chopped Grand Champion for Chopped Teen Week $25,000 tournament, as seen on Food Network's Chopped, Season 25.

Photo by: David Lang ©2015, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved.

David Lang, 2015, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved.

What are you going to do with the prize money, and will you do anything fun with it, other than just save it all?

Veronica: Maybe, because I'm only 15 and I can learn to drive soon, I might buy a used car with a portion of that, but the rest of it I'm saving for college. I need to start saving immediately.

What are your dreams for the future? Do you feel like this win is going to help you achieve what you want?

Veronica: This win will definitely boost my confidence, and [I] know that [I have] no regrets and that the risks that I take are worth it and that they are good, and that I actually am talented and that I can work hard and produce good results.

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