El Paso 7th Grader Wins Cooking Show ‘Chopped Junior’

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A year ago, the Food Network premiered a spin-off from their hit show “Chopped” called “Chopped Junior.” The reality program gives young contestants a basket full of ingredients that don’t necessarily go together well and asks them to craft a dish for the judges to try. The task stresses out and confounds many adults, but the young contestants (from ages 9 to 15) still manage to tackle the challenges with vigor and creativity.

Last week, a Texan beat out the competition to take home the “Chopped Junior” prize of $10,000. The El Paso Times reports that Taliah Dancil, a 7th grader at The Young Women’s Leadership Academy in El Paso, had to keep her big win a secret until the show aired on Tuesday night.

For her winning meal, the ingredients she was given proved to be a big challenge since one item was particularly unappetizing — crickets. KVIA wrote that Dancil met the criteria by making a “critter-crusted chorizo wrap with Sofrito zucchini sauce, using crickets in that crust.” And it turned out to be delicious enough to win her the monetary prize, a special chef’s jacket and the impressive bragging rights of becoming a “Chopped Junior” champion!