Chopped Junior Judges Reveal the First Thing They Tried Cooking as Kids

We asked the judges to share the first thing they cooked, whether it was successful or not.
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Photo By: Scott Gries ©2015, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved.

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

Photo By: Jason DeCrow ©2015, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

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

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

Photo By: Jason DeCrow ©2015, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

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

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

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

Photo By: Jason DeCrow ©2015, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

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

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

Chef-Ready with Spaghetti — Alex Guarnaschelli

"I made spaghetti Bolognese for my parents when I was — I want to say — 19, and I was really proud of it. I just knew, you know, the sauce bubbled, and the meat was seasoned, and the pasta, and I tossed it in there, and it just drank up the sauce. ... My dad took a bite and kind of just looked up at me ... [and said,] 'You’re on your own now. You can do this.' ... Can a dish of pasta say, I'm ready to go? Maybe."

Encouraging the Apple of Her Eye — Scott Conant

"I made an apple pie, just a traditional apple pie. ... I remember my [paternal] grandmother tasting it ... and being just so happy that it was something that I did at their house. ... That's the takeaway, I think: that enthusiasm. But more importantly, more than the enthusiasm, the encouragement that I felt ... ."

Broccoli, the Gateway to Gourmet — Lee Anne Wong

"The first thing I ever learned to cook for myself was broccoli. I used to in college. ... I’d just get a head of broccoli, and I'd stir-fry it with Mr. Yoshida's teriyaki sauce. ... My mother would send me gallon buckets of this teriyaki sauce that she'd get at ShopRite, and I'd just stir-fry my broccoli with it. So, broccoli was my gateway food for cooking."

First-Time Chicken Soup Fail — Sharone Hakman

"I tried making my grandma’s chicken soup one time [at 8 years old]. And I know that it took her a long time. I made a small pot, because I only wanted to make it for myself, and I put the chicken bones in there, and all the vegetables. And I know that my grandmother cooked this chicken soup for, like, four hours, so I put this little pot on the stove, figuring for four hours, and [when] I came back, there was absolutely nothing. No broth. Nothing left in there. It was just scorched to pieces, and that was my first chicken soup experience."

Cakes and Cookies and Doughnuts, Oh My — Chris Santos

"It’s funny, because I have nothing to do with pastries anymore. I haven’t made dessert for my restaurants in over a decade, but ... cakes and cookie doughs. That’s what I was into, and doughnuts, actually yeast-raised doughnuts, when I was a young teenager."

Fine-Dining Teenage Date Night — Marcela Valladolid

"I remember one of my best friends and I wanted to cook for our boyfriends ... and this was very ambitious. ... We were teenagers, and we made a salmon coulibiac, which is salmon wrapped in puff pastry. I remember it had a mushroom rice and ... creme fraiche and dill sauce. It was pretty kind of awesome for us, since we were teenagers."

Going from Sandwich Prince to Sandwich King — Jeff Mauro

"It was when I packed my own lunch as a kid. ... There's four of us, so, my mom ... got fed up with making four lunches every morning, so she left it up to us. So, I remember making a turkey sandwich and not enjoying it — how it would [not] hold up in the lunch bag. So, I started separating each component in its own zip-top bag to maximize freshness, and then I would build the sandwich once I got to the lunchroom."

To Grandmother's House We Go — Martha Stewart

"I think probably I baked before I really cooked. I made cookies and cakes and pies and rolled out the dough, and all of that stuff, and I also visited my grandmothers. One grandmother lived in Buffalo, and she had an amazing kitchen, and not only did we go to the farm and pick everything, we then brought it home and cooked it all."

Eggs in a Hole, a Hole in One — Sam Kass

"I'd pride myself on eggs. My grandfather taught me what he called Egg in a Hole, but it was just egg with the circle cut out [in toast], and we’d have toast grilled in the pan with butter. Put the egg in there, and fry it up in the middle of the bread. That was a great go-to."

A Cookie Monster from the Start — Elizabeth Chambers

"Monster cookies and chocolate chip cookies. I was obsessed; I’ve been obsessed with baking cookies since I was tiny. And I took a Toll House cookie recipe, just that I found on the back of [the] packaging when I was probably ... 7 or 8, and then ... I made up my own."

Pasta from Rome with Love — Marc Murphy

"Spaghetti alla carbonara. It’s one of my favorite dishes still today, and it's one of those things that I always, always made as a kid — and always make as an adult. It’s an easy recipe, and I learned it, I think, [from] somebody who I knew in Rome when I lived in Rome for a while."

Better-Luck-Next-Time Pasta — Tiffany Derry

"Oh, spaghetti, and I jacked it all up. ... I mean, it had everything and the kitchen sink. It was chicken, sausage and shrimp, because I was trying to do this jambalaya thing with pasta, and I didn't cook the pasta right. I didn't stir it. I didn't have enough water, and so it was gummy and sticking together a little bit. And my mom and everybody were like, 'Oh, it's good, baby, but, you know, we'll work on your pasta skills.'"

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