‘Top Chef' Spin-off ‘Top Chef Jr.' Introduces New Generation to Culinary Arts

Host Vanessa Lachey and head judge Curtis Stone guide the young chefs through classic challenges like ‘restaurant wars’ and the ‘quick fire challenge’

Looking for the next Bobby Flay, Gordon Ramsey or Anthony Bourdain? Well, you may want to try tuning into Universal Kids where the chefs of the future are busy donning their aprons. 

"Top Chef Jr.," the new spin-off of the Bravo hit "Top Chef," debuted on Oct. 13 on Universal Kids. The show features 12 contestants’ ages 11 to 14 years competing for the coveted Top Chef Jr. title... and the $50K cash price that comes with it. 

Host Vanessa Lachey and head judge Curtis Stone guide the young chefs through classic challenges like ‘restaurant wars’ and the ‘quick fire challenge,’ as well as brand new kid-friendly challenges on the show.

"The audience can expect a little bit of everything" says Lachey. "I just hope that families can sit down together and hopefully it would inspire them to get into the kitchen together."

Out of the family of five, Lachey says her 2-year-old daughter Brooklyn is the one who shares her love of the culinary arts. The mother of three mentions her role as a mother has shaped the way she interacts with the young contestants throughout the competition.

Stone also shares his children have been involved in his cooking since they were able to hold their heads up. Stone believes cooking together is a body experience for the entire family

"It’s cool for them to be interested in something” he says. "I think when you’ve created a product like this, it turns into an amazing family viewing."

A celebrity chef who discovered a passion for cooking at the age of 4, Stone has been a former host and judge for "Top Chef."  According to Curtis, these junior chefs have demonstrated more professionalism when it comes to receiving criticism than what he's seen in the adult competition.

“These young chefs just nod their heads and their like 'Right. Gotcha. Ok. Thank you' and they learn from it,” says Curtis.

Their willingness to take direction hasn't made life any easier for Stone. As the show progresses, it's gotten more difficult to eliminate contestants. Each budding chef has demonstrated "immense growth" in their cooking," says Stone. It all came down to eliminating contestants who were not able to complete a meal.

"As far as taste they all tasted good. As far as technique they were all pretty on point. As far as passion and creativity they were all there” says Lachey. 

In the upcoming 14 episodes, viewers can expect seeing the young chefs traveling and meeting celebrity top chefs like Michael Voltaggio, among others. Before the launch of the anticipated series, "Top Chef Jr." announced it had been picked up for a second season.

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