Dining With Denise Neil

Kansas kid tackles the basket on ‘Chopped Junior’ cooking show

Twelve-year-old Zach Baer, a sixth-grader at Bradley Elementary School in Fort Leavenworth, steps back after completing a Mexican cheese ball at his home. Zach will compete on “Chopped Junior” on the Food Network.
Twelve-year-old Zach Baer, a sixth-grader at Bradley Elementary School in Fort Leavenworth, steps back after completing a Mexican cheese ball at his home. Zach will compete on “Chopped Junior” on the Food Network. Fort Leavenworth Lamp

Teaching your kids to cook can pay off, as Kansas’ Zach Baer, 12, will prove on Tuesday night.

The sixth-grader from Fort Leavenworth will appear on the Food Network show “Chopped Junior.” The show airs at 7 p.m. Tuesday.

Zach told his local newspaper, the Fort Leavenworth Lamp, that his mom has always included him when she prepared family meals, and he found he enjoyed it. He’s been cooking since he was 3, he said.

He couldn’t give any details about his episode but said it involved fried foods.

“Chopped Junior,” hosted by Ted Allen, features four young chefs competing for a chance to win $10,000. The show’s website describes Tuesday’s episode in the following manner.

“The young competitors celebrate fried food in each round and whip up some deep-fried delights for the judges, chefs Alex Guarnaschelli and Rebecca Lang and actor Zachary Quinto. The first round kicks off with a popular Southern beverage and seafood. The heat builds in the second round, when the kids get to pair the ‘caviar of the South’ with a savory batter. Then, the dessert round reveals that almost everything can be fried, including ice cream.”

Zach will hang out at a Fort Leavenworth pizza restaurant, The Grinders High Noon, for a watch party Tuesday. He worked with the restaurant’s chefs creating a dinner feature for the evening.

Denise Neil: 316-268-6327, @deniseneil

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