Showing talent and determination, Kingston’s Alexina Chasin won the Teen Chopped Competition on the Food Network Channel Tuesday, Sept. 8. She will be on the show again this Tuesday, Sept. 15.
Having fought her way through previous rounds, she said how wonderful it was to win and said she felt a huge sense of accomplishment.
“I couldn’t help but feeling like freaking out a few times after the competition,” said Chasin. “I was so happy.”
Leading up to the day of the competition, Chasin, 15, said she knew that the most important thing to practice was improving her speed in the kitchen. She practiced sautéing and spicing her meals, and increasing her speed of chopping up meats and vegetables.
As long as she knew the roots of cooking, she said that following her instincts was much better than following a recipe. Trusting her instincts meant she could go with the flow but following a recipe, she said, makes it tricky to continue if something goes wrong during the cooking process.
On the day of the competition, Chasin said she kept a positive attitude throughout the rounds. She explained that having confidence in her cooking and presentations helped her push past her nervousness and avoid intimidation or dismissal by the judges.
“The judges are strict enough to not overlook a competitors’ confidence,” said Chasin. “If you don’t like the meals you make, then how can you expect the judges to like your cooking for you?”
Upon entering the first round, Chasin was handed a basket of vegan crispy chicken legs, golden beets and a tortilla chip lunch kit with salsa and pea leaves. Springing into action, she created crispy chicken leg with tzatziki sauce and roasted golden beets.
After the judges approved Chasin’s performance, she moved on to the next round where she was greeted by venison, butternut squash, fruity cereal macaroons and okra as ingredients. Using her Greek heritage to her advantage, she sautéed and spiced the venison, and then combined some tomatoes with the butternut squash and okra to create what she called “bamies with pan seared venison.”
“I love that you stay true to your roots in making a tzatziki,” said Chris Santos, a judge on Food Network’s Chopped. “The beets were not only cooked through, but also caramelized wonderfully and you seasoned like a pro.”
Repeatedly impressing the judges with her delicious creations, Chasin advanced to the final round were she was given a jar of walnuts and honey, assorted cookies, plums and French toast cereal. With swift innovation, she combined the honey with the cookies and cereal to create a dough to make a snickerdoodle cookie with a walnut plum compote.
When the time came for the final round of presentations, the judges determined that Chasin’s meals were lacking in organization. But since she produced overwhelmingly creative and tasty meals, the judges crowned her Teen Chopped Champion.
During the competition, Chasin recalled, she felt the pressure of not knowing what the show was going to throw at her next. However, she knew that her family was supporting her through every step. With their confidence in her, any hint of fear she had in the kitchen was vaporized, she said.
After the competition, Chasin aimed to take the judges’ advice to heart and make more cohesive dishes. She said that she would have to improve her cooking skills and diminish her weaknesses if she wanted to progress further.
Later on, after concealing her victory from everyone as the show required, Chasin invited her relatives, neighbors and friends over to watch the episode when it aired. She said that as her talents were shown throughout the episode, her family showed great excitement and happiness for her.
“The feeling of getting to see myself on the television was so cool,” said Chasin. “My family was very supportive and happy for me.”
Ever since then, Chasin says she has received praise and congratulatory greetings by many people in Kingston who step into the Broadway Lights Diner, where she is a waitress.
If Chasin makes it far enough in the competition and manages to win the finale and the 25,000 dollar prize, she said she plans to donate a portion of the money to the American Heart Association.
The Teen Chopped Competition will be having Chasin appear once again for her fourth episode, the last one before the season finale on Sept. 22, on the Food Network Channel this Tuesday.