‘Chopped Junior’ Season 9 Episode 1 review: 12-year-old Maya Noyes starts off the season by winning Turkey Day Challenge
Thanksgiving, turkey, candies, and kids; the ingredients just fit in perfectly for a fun-filled holiday. And if you have children cooking holiday-special meals, with their innovative ideas and perceptive culinary talent, then the experience goes a few notches above. Food Network’s popular show ‘Chopped Junior’ just launched its latest season (Season 9) and we cannot seem to get over the excitement from its very first episode.
Four young and extremely talented aspiring chefs, Justice, Anna, Jake, and Maya, competed against each other with their own takes on traditional Turkey Day recipes. While the children were fun and exciting to watch, we couldn’t ignore the judges. Along with Executive Chef Amanda Frietag and restaurateur Maneet Chauhan, as regular judges, social media star David Dobrik joined as a special guest.
In every round, the Turkey-themed mystery basket kept getting more challenging with uncommon items like Turkey snack bags and Turkey cheese ball, or even cactus pear. Some of these ingredients can be daunting even for adults. But the children took it head-on and came up with the most fascinating dishes using their observation, knowledge, and instincts, despite the tension-filled kitchen environment and race against time. While all the four kids came up with their best dishes, Maya Noyes from Massachusetts took the prize home.
Here’s what you need to know about 12-year-old Maya. Hailing from a Jewish family, her take on food is majorly influenced by her family heritage and background. She grew up observing her parents, grandparents, and learning from them, along with exposing herself to social media. Maya has also traveled to Israel, which inspired her to make her entrée of spiced Turkey tenderloins, which she improvised with a delicious collard green pesto. But her piece de resistance turned out to be the dessert. With strange ingredients like cereal turkey, corn cookies, pumpkin pudding, peanut butter candies, and cactus pear, she made the most sophisticated dessert plate with pumpkin pudding crepes with cactus pear cream and cookie crumble. Although her plans were to toast the cookies and use the caramelized flavors, her plans fell apart when the cookies got over-baked. But Maya didn’t lose hope and instantly switched to plan B and replaced her garnish with grated cookies.
It was not just her dishes that fascinated the judges. They, as well as us, were impressed by her cooking techniques, her grip over herself in such a high-octane environment (despite being a child), and most importantly, her swift thinking for alternatives. And with such qualities in an aspiring chef, it only made the perfect choice for the judges to choose Maya Noyes as the winner of the Turkey Day Challenge.
'Chopped Junior' Season 9 airs exclusively on Food Network on Tuesdays, 9 pm.