Marco Chiaramida is a recent graduate from St. Peter’s Catholic Secondary School in Barrie. Marco got the opportunity to compete on Chopped Canada Teen on Saturday, February 4th. St. Peter’s was very proud of their former panther.
Marco appeared against 3 other competitors, Kelsey, Varda and Katelyn. During the introduction, Marco explained his love of cooking. He said, “what I love about cooking is that I am able to create what I want off the top of my head.” He also stated that his family is his biggest inspiration for cooking. Marco works in a bakery, where he learns to cook under pressure. Marco wanted to win the 10,000 dollars prize so he and his mom could travel to Italy and get a taste of real Italian cooking.
There were three parts to the competition; appetizers, entrees and desserts. For each round, contestants were given 30 minutes to prepare the dish plus a basket of ingredients that must be used. Competitors also had access to the pantry. The judges were marking based on presentation, taste and creativity. If the dish did not meet those expectations, the chef would be “chopped.”
For appetizers, the basket contained caramel chews, veal kidneys, mini bell peppers, and instant mashed potatoes. Marco’s dish was instant mashed potatoes encrusted veal kidney bites. Marco created a sauce out of the caramel chews. He added red wine to it which, when tasted, reminded him of a sauce popular in Italy. The judges were impressed with the sauce and gave Marco some tips on his cooking. It was Katelyn who was the first one eliminated.
For entrees the basket contained multi-coloured ice cream cones, red grapes, mizuna and cornish hen. Marco was making grilled cornish hen with red grape reduction. “It’s 10,000 dollars on the line, I really have to move quick,” Marco said, determined to make sure his protein was cooked to perfection. Near the end of the 30 minute time limit, Marco started to panic a bit that his cornish hens were not cooked perfectly. However, when it came to judging, Marco’s cornish hen was amazing, and the judges gave many compliments, as well as some constructive criticism. The next contestant to get chopped was Kelsey.
For dessert the basket had blueberry crumble pie, powdered peanut butter, hickory smoked almonds and triple creme cheese. Marco chose to make a blueberry cheese pastry with almond peanut butter crunch. Marco faced the judges in the last round, and received compliments on his use of peanut butter and almonds, however at the end of the judging, got chopped.
“Thank you judges, this has been an amazing experience and I would do it all over again, if I had the chance,” Marco told the judges after being chopped.
Even though the former graduate was chopped in the end, he also showed great determination and proved that Panthers do not give up. All of St. Peter’s is very proud of Marco for trying his best and making it as far as he did.