2015-11-25 / Local News

Local teen competes as ‘Chopped Junior’ chef in upcoming episode

By JAYNE JACOVA FELD Voice staff

FAMILY: Parents Evan & Tara Marcus; brothers Daniel & Andrew

FAVORITE JEWISH FOOD TO COOK: Pastrami & bagels

FAVORITE TV SHOW: “The Flash”

FAVORITE PODCAST: Hardcore History

On December 15, Cherry Hill resident Dylan Marcus makes his nationally-televised debut as a chef. As a contestant of “Chopped Junior,” the 13-year-old cooked up a gourmet meal using several unusual ingredients, including dried seafood snack, a cut of meat, a pre-baked cake and cereal.

Dylan politely declined to give away any spoiler details about his culinary creations other than to say “I definitely held my ground” as a contestant on the Food Network spin-off of the popular “Chopped” show.

As a junior chef, Dylan faced off against three other young foodies. All were charged with preparing a three-course meal using ingredients provided in a big yellow picnic basket. Just like in the adult version, a panel of three guest judges “chop” one chef who fails to measure up after each course. After dessert, the one chef left standing takes home $10,000 and bragging rights.

“I really can’t say a lot about the episode,” he explained, as per the strict rules of the Food Network. “I wanted to be there more to cook for the chefs and have them taste my food (than for the prize and TV exposure), but it will be exciting to see myself on TV.”

For the episode, he and his mom Tara stayed overnight in New York City, combining sightseeing, culinary tourism and the actual taping of the show. It was done in early August at the Food Network’s studio, located in the attic of the massive Chelsea Market, an urban food court described by many as a “foodie’s fantasy” market. Entitled “Cereal Miracles,” the episode pits Dylan against two kids from Massachusetts and one from California. The celebrity judges are model Camila Alves and chefs Michelle Bernstein and Scott Conant.

An eighth-grader at the South Jersey Sudbury School in Medford, an alternative private school, Dylan developed his culinary interest by cooking with his parents and two brothers. Recent creations have included homemade pastrami and the Tomahawk steak that he prepared for the show selection process.

Dylan is well known at the Katz JCC, where he spent much of his free time in recent years while being home-schooled.

Cooking and baking are likely in the Marcus genes as his great-grandfather and grandfather owned a bakery in South Philadelphia. His brother Daniel too was recently in the news for making a video of the family cooking a rice dish for an Uncle Ben’s contest that the family found out about from one of the other junior chefs. Daniel had aspired to donate the $30,000 top prize to Sacred Heart School in Camden towards the creation of a school cafeteria. He was crushed to learn that his video did not advance to the final round but vows to try again next year.

Tim Allen, the host of “Chopped Junior,” said the junior chefs are not to be underestimated.

“These are kids who really love to cook, who have been inculcated with the values of chefs,” Allen remarked in an article about the new series on the Food Network website.

To find out how Dylan’s meal stacked up with his competitors, watch “Chopped Junior” on the Food Network. The show will air at 8 p.m. December 15. Dylan's Tomahawk Steak dish that he earned him a spot on Chopped Jr.  Dylan's Tomahawk Steak dish that he earned him a spot on Chopped Jr.

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