The Chopped Junior Judges Reveal Their Signature Dish

Chefs spend their days crafting a multitude of decadent dishes, but there are usually one or two that stand out to them or their guests. Whether it stems from a sentimental memory or is just really, really good, the judges reveal their most-notable meal. 

Photo By: Susan Magnano

Photo By: Scott Gries

Photo By: Scott Gries

Photo By: Susan Magnano

Photo By: Susan Magnano

Photo By: Susan Magnano

Photo By: susan magnano

Photo By: susan magnano

Photo By: Susan Magnano

Photo By: Susan Magnano

Photo By: Susan Magnano

Photo By: Susan Magnano

Photo By: susan magnano

Photo By: susan magnano

Photo By: Scott Gries

Photo By: Scott Gries

Photo By: Susan Magnano

Fish Sauce for Breakfast — Stephanie Izard

"It's hard to say there’s a signature dish. I think signature ingredient would be the fish sauce, I’m using it in nontraditional ways. People expect to see fish sauce on my menu, even for breakfast.

A Breakfast Dessert — Ziggy Marley

"I do some oatmeal, my wife loves it, and I’m kind of known for my oatmeal breakfast. It’s simple, very simple — just oatmeal and I add some different elements like flaxseed, some blueberries. It kind of has dessert vibes to it, but [it's] still healthy."

Eggs, in All Forms — Zachary Quinto

"I'm a good breakfast person; I love to cook eggs. ... I love to cook omelets. I love to cook scrambled eggs. I make a good egg sandwich with bacon and cheese."

Keeping Things Simple — Kym Whitley

"I have one dish that another actress, Robin Givens, taught me, and when I make it people go crazy, and it’s simple. It’s ... a fettuccine noodle, heavy cream, smoked salmon, red onions, butter and caviar. That’s it."

Changing the Tofu Game — Nguyen Tran

"These crispy tofu balls. ... It’s tofu ground professionally with scallions in it, marinate it, ball it up, coat it in a naturally green, sweet rice from Vietnam, fry it and top it with a spicy sriracha aioli. We call it a game-changer for people that hate tofu — that can’t stand it. They don’t know why they like it."

Can’t Run from Mac and Cheese — Sunny Anderson

"I love to cook all kinds of food. I grew up moving around in Germany. I’ve lived in Korea, and so I’ve practiced all over the place. ... But I can’t run from that mac and cheese. I can’t. I can’t get away from it. So, I guess, people have told me my signature dish is that, but it’s hard for me to choose."

When Burgers and Lasagna Meet — Harley Morenstein

"I think my signature dish is probably hamburger lasagna. ... We replace the noodles with bacon. We replace the meat sauce with full-on burgers. We replace the cheese with Cheddar and mozzarella cheese and American cheese. ... Put onion rings on top of it and, I mean, like, one bite of it is pretty much all your calories for the day."

Hating Your Best Recipe — Anika Noni Rose

"Recently I made a cheesecake for a friend as an opening-night present, and it was a peanut M&M cheesecake. ... And then once for an opening-night situation I made a bourbon-brown sugar cheesecake with a caramel sauce, which was really good. Fun tidbit: I hate cheesecake, so I make it for other people. I started making it for my brother, and he loves it. ... I do not believe cheese should be involved in dessert."

Cheese and Potatoes — Kevin McHale

"Scalloped potatoes. That was really big for me, you know, cutting the potatoes and ... having to use the oven — that was a big departure for me, even though it’s not that difficult. But I didn’t really grow up in a cooking family. ... I loved it growing up, and I made what I loved to eat, and cheese and potatoes is just the best."

The Barbecue Monster — Ruben Studdard

"I'm a monster at the barbecue. That’s, like, a thing now from my family — everyone wants my ribs, my chicken. But I cook anything. Anything that I can read, I can cook."

Adding a Mexican Twist — Martita Jara

"I make an amazing citrus-cilantro pesto. I know pesto is supposed to be Italian, but instead of Parmesan I use Manchego, which is a Spanish cheese. Instead of pine nuts I use pumpkin seeds, which is very traditional in Mexican cooking, and I don’t just use basil; I use basil and cilantro, and I add lemon and lime, and I add jalapeno into it, and so it just gives it ... a little bit of a Mexican twist."

Tacos for Any Occasions — Ryan Guzman

"I tend to fall back on tacos a lot. ... It goes with any occasion. I could eat tacos whenever, and if you’ve ever been to one of my parties at my house, you know that if I’m on the grill, I’m usually cooking tacos."

Outliving Food Trends — Michael Voltaggio (on Bryan's Signature Dish)

"I would have to say his hanger steak dish. ... It’s a dish that he’s created that has sort of survived through every food trend that there’s been just because it’s delicious. ... I think it’s in how he marinates it because he won’t give me the recipe, but it’s good."

Making the Perfect Gnocchi — Bryan Voltaggio (on Michael's Signature Dish)

"Gnocchi. ... He takes egg yolks and cooks it to a certain temperature and then pipes it through a bag into boiling water, and … it seals the egg yolk on the outside, but it’s creamy on the interior like a soft yolk, and it’s really delicious."

Southern Roots — Rebecca Lang

"Certainly Southern food. I would say maybe fried chicken, even though we’re frying a lot today. My roots are certainly deep within the South, and I would say that biscuits and fried chicken are two things that I’m good at and that I love."

A Beautiful Sear — JB Smoove

"If I was to make a signature dish that I love to make, seared salmon. ... It’s something special. You can control the seasoning a little better, and searing is so beautiful. You can squeeze some lemon on it, and butter that pan real nice and get a nice sear going on."

Re-Creating a Favorite Dish — Michelle Park

"I cook a lot. I spent a lot of time trying to learn how to make duck confit. I spent a summer in France, and I just became obsessed. I think my husband would tell you that’s the best thing I make, which I think is a good sign."

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