Top Chef Junior season 2 premieres Sept. 8 on Universal Kids (6 p.m. ET/PT), but first, meet the 12 young competitors who made the cut and will be competing for the coveted title and $50,000 prize. (Watch the full bootcamp casting special here.)
CARSON | Ventura, CA | Age 13
Carson fell in love with cooking watching his Italian grandmother, his “Nonna,” in the kitchen. His Italian heritage and his Nonna inspire many of the dishes he makes. He has great respect for tradition and the importance of passing down recipes through the generations. Carson is truly a “gentle giant” – he’s 6’3” – with a heart of gold. He demonstrates unbelievable ambition and talent as a 4.0 Honor Student and basketball star who dreams of going to Harvard. He also plays five instruments, including the clarinet and jazz saxophone, and is in two bands.
ELLA | Berwyn, PA | Age 13
When Ella was 3 years old, her family’s home was lost in a freak accident. Fortunately, everyone made it out safely, and after the fire, the family went to live with Ella’s grandmother. There, Ella started helping her grandmother in the kitchen. After such a horrific event, cooking became a way for her to express herself artistically. Ella has been thrown a lot of curveballs in her young life, but she’s managed to dodge every single one of them. She is allergic to dairy, soy, and nuts, and hated having limitations on what she could and could not eat growing up. This motivated Ella to become a chef. She has always had a passion for football and begged her parents and coach at her new school to let her play on the boys’ tackle team. Ella also plays softball year round on the local Little League and tournament teams. Whether on the field or in the kitchen, Ella demonstrates relentless determination.
ERIC | Spring, TX | Age 10
Eric’s personality is just as big as his home state of Texas. His specialty food is Tex-Mex, representing his hometown and father’s heritage. Eric is a master at BBQ and grilling, and he loves to “bring the heat” with lots of spice in his dishes. Eric is hilarious and is always cracking jokes. He is in complete control of the things he wants to do – he decided he wanted to be a chef and researched and applied to Top Chef Junior all on his own. He also plays the guitar, sings, and loves soccer.
KATE | Houston, TX | Age 13
Kate’s love for cooking comes from her mother, who owns a cooking school that Kate not only attends, but teaches other kids at as well. With Tennessee and Texas roots, Kate loves comfort foods. She plans to open “Kate’s Corner” one day – a cozy Southern restaurant. Living in Houston during the recent flooding, Kate did her part by making sandwiches and preparing food to help those affected. People were so supportive of her family’s cooking school and she wanted to give back. Kate wants to bring joy and happiness thruough her cooking. Kate loves her Basset hound, Dixie (who has 22-inch ears), water skiing, and playing golf.
LONDYN | Atlanta, GA | Age 11
Londyn’s life motto is faith, family, and food. Londyn is a devoted chef and first fell in love with cooking at the age of 3. She draws her culinary inspiration from her father, travel, and her family heritage. With her mother from Toronto, Canada, and her grandparents from Jamaica and England, Londyn’s culinary diversity shines through. She also shows off her culinary fashion sense by creatively sewing her own chef pants and matching hair bows with her mother. Londyn enjoys cooking for her younger sister, who suffers from Diamond Blackfan Anemia – a rare blood disorder that prevents the body from making red blood cells – and her brother who has Down Syndrome. In addition to cooking, Londyn loves to write and make music.
NIKKI | New York, NY | Age 11
Nikki is from New York City just a short distance from the American Museum of Natural History, Central Park, and restaurants of all different cultures. She feels lucky and wide-eyed with wonder over her city and the different cultures there. Whenever Nikki has an idea for a recipe she can zip down to Chinatown, Little Italy, or her favorite Indian or Korean markets to get the ingredients. Nikki’s mother is from Belarus and her family travels there almost every year. She’s also traveled to places like the Amazon in Brazil, Italy, and England. Nikki brings her love of various cultures and strong organizational skills to the kitchen. Nikki tried out for Top Chef Junior last year, but didn’t make it. She’s back this year and thrilled for the opportunity.
NOAH | Evanston, IL | Age 11
Cooking and restaurants run in Noah’s blood — his mom was a restaurant manager for many years, and his father was a line cook. His great grandfathers were butchers. He wants to follow in his parents’ footsteps by opening a chain of restaurants. Noah loves to make others happy, which is at the root of his cooking. When he was younger he would cook for his older sister’s sleepover parties. Noah would take everyone’s orders and make omelets for his sister and her friends. He especially loves to bake, and is known for the multi-layered cakes he’s been selling so that he can eventually pay for his dream trip to Cooperstown to see the Baseball Hall of Fame. Noah loves to please other, and hopefully, his experience will help him please the judges.
OLIVIA | Long Valley, NJ | Age 10
Olivia started cooking when she was four years old and is an avid reader of cookbooks. From savory to sweet, she does it all. Olivia loves making birthday cakes from scratch for her friends. She even makes dog snacks for pets! Olivia likes to source fresh and seasonal ingredients and cooks in a farm to table style. Olivia is always singing and dancing in the kitchen and truly marches to the beat of her own drum. Her family is exceptionally artistic, so she is always painting and drawing. She even plays the piano and sings at open mic nights.
ROGERS | Corona, CA | Age 13
Rogers is remarkably calm, focused, and detail oriented in the kitchen. He has a love for classic French and Asian cooking, with its complex processes and delicate flavors. His passion for cooking and love for food started at a very young age cooking with his parents. Outside of the kitchen, Rogers has a Black Belt in Tae Kwon Do, is a whiz at the piano, and a skilled chess player. He is talented in the visual arts and enjoys calligraphy, watercolor, and origami. Rogers is well beyond his years in school and is currently enrolled in AP Math, English, and Science.
SIMON | Los Angeles, CA | Age 12
Simon’s interest in cooking began when he helped his dad bake wedding cakes at a very young age. Simon is not only a creative chef, but he also loves sports and has a passion for math and science, particularly robotics. This interest comes from his college professor father who also took Simon all over the world, where he tasted the cuisines of many different cultures. His innate ability to just be himself and his outgoing personality make him great to be with while working in the kitchen. Simon keeps kosher at home and doesn’t eat pork or shellfish, but he still cooks with them.
SOPHIE | New Orleans, LA | Age 13
Sophie cooks from her roots — her family is from Poland, and a recent trip there to learn more about her background made a significant impact on her cooking style. She loves pierogi and embraces her Polish heritage. As a New Orleans native, she has a great love of comfort food, including American comfort foods, Polish comfort foods, and Italian, which as a cuisine is a kind of comfort food. Sophie’s also a cheerleader and brings her enthusiasm and energy to the kitchen.
TYLER | South River, NJ | Age 13
Tyler is well-versed in Italian cuisine, and his background inspires many of his dishes. His favorite thing to do is to go on cruise ships. Tyler’s been on 12 different cruises so far and traveled all over the world. He enjoys trying foods from all over the world. Tyler’s dream is to be a chef on a cruise ship one day. Outside of the kitchen, he’s a skateboarder and loves all-terrain vehicles and BMX bikes.