The Judges' Advice for the Budding Chefs of Chopped Junior

We sought the advice of the Chopped Junior judges, and here's what they would tell the kid competitors.
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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: 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: Jason DeCrow ©2015, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Photo By: Jason DeCrow ©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.

Learn More by Eating More — Amanda Freitag

"I feel like the kids love the competition. They love the science of food, but I think they need to taste more. Taste food, taste ingredients. Learn about, you know, cuisines, and eat more."

Become the Best That You Can Be — Camila Alves

"A competition doesn't tell you who you are. It just gives you [an] indication of what you've got to work on more, and what you can get better at. … [Everyone] should really take this opportunity and this experience as, 'How can I improve? How can I really be the best that I can be?'"

Don't Let Losing Discourage You — Billy Gardell

"Whether you win or lose, you learn from both things, and, truthfully, you learn more from losing than you do winning, and hopefully you let that inspire you and not shut you down."

Find Your Personal Style — Elizabeth Chambers

"Focus on finding that style. … Find what kind of sets you apart, and then just keep absorbing and reading and learning and watching and striving to do things better … . These kids are so young, and the whole world's ahead of them … and the whole world is truly an oyster. … So, capitalize on that, and be a sponge."

Figure Things Out First — Sam Kass

"I think the key to these things is always to take the time to figure out what you want to do. So many times people start working before they have a plan, and then things fall apart, and that's where things really go wrong."

Your Future Is Ahead — Michelle Bernstein

"Learn from your mistakes. Keep your head up. Don't think that you've lost it all just because you've made a couple of mistakes here and there. There's always a chance, and there's always a way to make it up in the future."

Never Stop Dreaming — Sam Talbot

"Never stop. You never stop dreaming. You keep pushing. You keep pushing. If you get sent home today, go home and smoke your eggs harder. Go home and play with tartare more. Keep pushing. Keep pushing, because that payoff at the end of where this can bring you is … endless."

Cook with an Open Mind and with Confidence — Laila Ali

"With cooking you should just keep an open mind and continually learn, add to your arsenal. And just learn about different flavors and different cooking techniques … . Confidence in the kitchen is very important. Obviously, they all have that base that they need, and … they can only get better at what they're doing."

Life Is a Mystery Basket — Sharone Hakman

"Take every challenge that you get in life, or here in the Chopped kitchen, as just a perfect example of what you're going to be faced with in life. ... You're always going to get a mystery basket of things that come at you in life, and you just take it with [a] positive mentality, positive attitude, and you just go and attack it."

Enjoy Being a Kid While You Can — Lee Anne Wong

"The one advice that I would give to kids of this age is that you have one childhood, so while it's great, and you can continue to focus on cooking, don't be so eager to work. My, my mom used to tell me, 'You're going to work the rest of your life,' and now I know exactly what she means. … Enjoy your youth while you can. Do things, do normal things with your friends."

Use Your Experiences as Fuel — Marcela Valladolid

"This is a learning experience, because it's so easy to get uninspired … or go in another direction, or get disappointed, but [my advice is] to use this experience as their fuel to become better, and to keep competing."

Embrace Both Failure and Success — Geoffrey Zakarian

"In life they're going to fail, and they've got to embrace the failure almost more than the success. They're going to not believe their own success and failure. They're both imposters. Don't get too happy when you succeed, and don't get too down when you fail."

Take Criticism Constructively — Hayden Panettiere

"The tough part about being a chef and being that young is you've got to deal with a lot of criticism. Of course the criticism is what's necessary to keep improving … [but] keep taking that criticism, and use it constructively."

Find the Fun and Joy — Alex Guarnaschelli

"Try to just extract joy and fun from the process, because this is a competition. It's serious. There's a lot at stake, but it's also a game, and a puzzle and a riddle, and when you get hyped up, you can lose sight of those other pieces."

Do What You Know — Aarón Sánchez

"Use the ingredients, and try and do something … that you've done before that's a winner. It's hard enough trying to compose a new idea, so just go with something that you know."

An Organized Station Is an Organized Mind — Tiffany Derry

"Make sure that your table is organized, because that will throw you off when those last three minutes [count down]."

Keep Cooking, Keep Practicing — Marc Murphy

"[For those who are chopped] my advice would be: Keep your head up; this is just a game show. You made it this far; just keep on cooking, and keep practicing. I mean, at this age, they don't have much practice, and I think that cooking is one of those skills that you just have to keep doing over and over."

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