One-on-One with the Winner of Rachael Ray's Kids Cook-Off

Hear from the winner of Rachael Ray's Kids Cook-Off.
Scarlett wins Rachael Ray's Kids Cook-Off

Contestants (left to right) Chris Ekpiken, Chandler Jackson, and Scarlett Smorynski during the "Put It All Together" Finale Cook-Off challenge as seen on Food Network’s Rachael Ray’s Kids Cook­‐Off, Season 1.

Photo by: Scott Gries ©2015, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved.

Scott Gries, 2015, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved.

After six weeks of challenges that would have been tough even for an adult chef, one kid chef rose to the top on Rachael Ray's Kids Cook-Off. Chris, Chandler and Scarlett made it to the action-packed finale, where each had to cook a meal that summed up their Web series' concept, and then present that dish to a panel of judges — in this case, Chopped judges. All three kids did a phenomenal job, but one in particular showed confidence and poise and cooked a dish that got the judges' highest praise. Hear from the winner.

Scarlett not only won her own Web series, This Cali Kid Can Cook, but also won $20,000 to use toward her education. FN Dish caught up with her on the set of Rachael Ray's Kids Cook-off to get her first reactions to winning.

So how did everything go for you today? Were you nervous at all?

Scarlett: Today I was very nervous, you know, it’s just crazy how it escalates during the day.

When it came to presenting in front of the judges, were you intimidated?

Scarlett: When I was presenting to the judges, I was very nervous. Like, the first couple words I slipped up on. They were like, “You’re so calm …,” but I was extremely nervous.

What kind of thoughts were racing through your mind when Alex announced you had won?

Scarlett: When they said that I won, I was like, “Wait, what? That’s not my name. That’s not me.” It was, it was crazy. I still don’t think it’s real too, right now.

Do you think it will sink in?

Scarlett: No, I don’t think it ever will sink in, to be honest.

Out of all the challenges on the show, what was the hardest for you? Was there one that, in particular, that comes to mind?

Scarlett: This might sound weird, but the hardest one for me was the Halloween episode. Which is the only one I won, but … honestly, that was the one I was least wanting to do. I hated that one. But I did it.

You hadn't actually won any challenges before that, and unfortunately there was no advantage to gain on that one. But were you surprised to break that losing streak?

Scarlett: This definitely was an extra surprise, just even to get to final three, because [I] haven’t really won … any immunities or advantages in the whole [show].

What was the most-difficult aspect of the competition? Was it menu planning or the time constraints?

Scarlett: Honestly, the hardest part was, like, waiting to figure out who’s [at] the top and who, you know, goes home. That was honestly the hardest part when you’re like, "Oh my gosh, oh my gosh, oh my gosh."

What was it like having Rachael mentor you?

Scarlett: Having Rachael [as a mentor] was amazing.

How did you come up with your concept of Cali food? Has growing up in California had an effect on you?

Scarlett: There’s a big uprising in L.A. of some of the best restaurants, and all the food there is always fresh, and it’s a big melting pot of cuisine. Like, they have Koreatown. They have Chinatown. They have all [these], you know, different areas. So, when I cook fresh food, that means when you put it in your mouth, it’s going to pop, and … it’s going to refresh you. It’s not going to slow you down.

We heard that your parents don't cook, so how did you get into cooking?

Scarlett: Honestly, I got into cooking through the Food Network. My parents cannot cook, and just ever since I watched it, it was just mind-blowing.

Is there a chef in particular that really got your attention?

Scarlett: Robert Irvine really helped me … know for sure, without a doubt in my mind, that I want to be a restaurateur. And he helped me with all those skills, because [on] Restaurant Impossible [and] Dinner Impossible … he cooks fresh food, he cooks it quick, easy, fast. Not [that] necessarily my food is easy or fast, but it definitely is fresh, so that’s a little influence from him.

How was it having him judge one of your challenges?

Scarlett: It was amazing having Robert Irvine, not [an] image, but him, like, right in front of me.

When this all airs on TV, what are you going to do to celebrate?

Scarlett: Probably, like, invite a lot of people to our house, and just cook a bunch of stuff for them … probably not that crazy, but something like that, or maybe go to one of my favorite restaurants.

Are you going to do the cooking if you do have a party?

Scarlett: Yes, of course I will.

Watch the first episode of Scarlett's Web series below:

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