UPDATE: Kyla Curry, 13, took home the grand prize of $10,000 on the cooking reality show "Chopped Jr."
An Ooltewah eighth-grader will show off her cooking chops on the next episode of the cooking reality show "Chopped Jr."
Kyla Curry, 13, can't reveal how she fared on the Food Network series, airing at 8 p.m. Tuesday, but the East Hamilton Middle/High School student said she's excited to see how it unfolds on television.
"We're going to be at my aunt's house [to watch the show]," she said. "We're just going to have a few family members [present] to celebrate the viewing."
A spinoff of "Chopped," a cooking competition for adults, "Chopped Jr." has four adolescent chefs competing for a $10,000 prize. In each standalone episode, the young cooks prepare an appetizer, entree and dessert from a basket of mandatory ingredients. A contestant is eliminated after each course until a winner is determined. The show's slogan: "If your dish doesn't cut it, you will be chopped."
According to a Food Network episode guide, Tuesday's episode is themed "Holiday Hoopla." In Round 1, the junior chefs get a chance to impress the guest judge, New York Giants running back Rashad Jennings, with creative fish dishes. A meaty second course follows before the final two kids find "festive surprises."
Kyla said she learned to cook from her mother, Ivy Curry, and how to bake from her dad, Kenardo Curry.
"She's been cooking since she was about 3 years old," said older sister Mikayla Curry, 21. "She loves to do soul food cooking and mix it with French and Mediterranean [influences] and put her own spin on it."
"My signature dish is shrimp and grits," Kyla said. "I like to cook soul food, food I've grown up around."
Kyla said she sent in an application and an audition tape to be considered for the show. She previously applied to Fox's "MasterChef Junior," but this was her first callback. The episode was filmed over the summer in New York.
"We had a fun time," she said. "Everything was very new to me, but overall it was a really good time."
At 13, she hasn't nailed down her career path quite yet, but said cooking could figure into her plans.
"I'm thinking about it," she said. "And engineering."
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