The Chopped Junior Judges Reveal Whether They Could Have Competed As Kids

We asked the judges what they were doing as kids and if they could see themselves competing on Chopped Junior. Most answered no without hesitation, but some said they could.

Photo By: Jason DeCrow ©2016, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Photo By: Jason DeCrow ©2016, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Photo By: Jason DeCrow ©2016, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Photo By: Jason DeCrow ©2016, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Photo By: Jason DeCrow ©2016, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved


Photo By: Jason DeCrow ©2016, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Photo By: Susan Magnano

Photo By: Jason DeCrow ©2016, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Jennie Garth: She Feels She'd Have Been Too Young to Compete

"I didn't start working in the business until I was 16, so I didn’t start dealing with this level of competitive pressure until I was older than these kids. I can’t imagine starting it earlier, and I can’t imagine putting my own kids under this kind of pressure … ."

Marcus Samuelsson: He Was Already Competing — with His Grandma

"I started cooking around the same age, I mean I was even a little bit younger, but I was competing with my grandmother, so that wasn’t easy … ."

Sarah Michelle Gellar: Possibly, with Lots of Practice — and a Script

"I was a professional actor at that time, and so I was competing every day for jobs. ... So, on one hand I understand the importance of competition and bettering yourself and challenging yourself, but on the other hand this terrifies me. … When I was a child actor, I had audition sides and lines, and I could learn them and practice them and go in and do what I do best, and here the unknown is so scary ... ."

Scott Conant: Cooking? Yes. Competing? Never.

"I took my first classes when I was 11 years old, so I started cooking at a pretty young age, and I started working full-time at 15, so I was working 60 hours a week at 15 years old, but as far as competing, it didn’t exist back then. So, there was nothing to gauge it on. So, no. "

Ayesha Curry: Sure, If Chopped Junior Had Been Around

"Actually I can, because my passion for food started at a young age, and I was always in the kitchen creating things. It’s one of those things where I wish that Chopped [had been around] when I was little so I could have been a competitor myself."

Marc Murphy: He'd Be Too Nervous to Compete

"When I see these kids at the ages they are and what they’re doing, competing, I could’ve never seen myself doing anything like that. I mean, first of all, this type of thing didn’t exist when I was a kid, so it would’ve never crossed my mind, but I don’t think my nerves could’ve taken it."

Roblé Ali: He Couldn't Have Faced the Cameras

"I couldn’t see myself competing. Well, I could probably do it, but I don’t know if I could do it on television in front of all these cameras. I’d be so distracted and so intimidated, but that’s another reason why I’m really impressed and proud of these kids for coming out here and doing this."

Alex Guarnaschelli: She'd Find Herself Out of Place

"I could not have at all seen myself competing at that age. I would have crumpled. I would have opened the basket and just said, 'I must be in the wrong place. This is not where I’m meant to be.'"

Andrew Rannels: Maybe, But Not on TV

"Yes and no. I mean, I was like, you know, an actor as a kid, like community theater ... local TV commercials, that sort of thing. So, I guess, technically I was competing with other kids for stuff … . I don’t know what I would have been thinking if I was on national television at 11 years old."

Kelsey Nixon: Maybe, with a Big Dash of Naivete

"You know, maybe if I was young and naive and I didn’t realize what I was getting myself into. No, I'd love it. There’s, like, this fearlessness with the kids, and I think it’s amazing."

Monti Carlo: Cooking? Not Even Homework

"I could barely do my homework when I was 10 and 12. … The amount of focus and just grace under pressure that these children have is ridiculous. It’s unbelievable to me. It makes me feel like they’re going to be amazing adults, just incredible people that are going to be doing insane things in their community."

Chris Santos: Yes, If He Grew Up Now

"I was very competitive. I think if I grew up now, getting really juiced watching Food Network and that kind of stuff, I think I definitely could, but back in the day it just wasn’t an option … ."

Sam Kass: Competition? No Way at Any Age

"Like, no chance. I would never do a competition like that, at that age or any age. … They’re giving them really hard, weird ingredients, so you, as a kid, have to be confident enough that your skill set is wide enough that you can handle whatever is coming your way. I can’t even dream of doing that when I was their age."

Amanda Freitag: Not a Chance

"I absolutely could not do what these kids are doing right now when I was their age … . I definitely don’t think I would have been able to cook at this level. I didn’t have the experience, I wasn’t studying it, I didn’t have the influences that these kids have today."

Eddie Jackson: He Preferred Football Over Cooking

"You know what, I don’t think I could have competed at that age. You know, [at] 11 years old I was more worried about trying to find a football game or a basketball game. I didn’t really get into cooking until I was in my teenage years."

Donal Skehan: No, It's a Totally Different Ballgame

"I don't know. … When I started cooking growing up it was definitely much more a loving situation where, you know, I was beside my mom and she would teach me the recipes she knew and that she learned from her grandmother. So, I mean, this is a whole other ballgame."

Ali Khan: He'd Choose Watching Over Competing Any Day

"All I think about, with incredible butterflies, is how I could never, ever do what they’re doing … . There’s no way in God’s green earth I could have ever made Chopped Junior with this level of competition, but I certainly would have watched it."

Geoffrey Zakarian: Not Without the Power of the Internet

"I could never see myself competing at that age. It’s just a different world, with the Internet and YouTube and everything; you know, you can teach yourself how to cook online, and that just wasn’t possible when I was growing up. It’s just … remarkable right now how fast kids learn."

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