A 10-year-old San Diego girl will show off her culinary skills on television Tuesday as she competes on a program designed for mini chefs-in-training.
Point Loma resident Ashley Carter will appear in an episode of the Food Network show, “Chopped Junior,” airing at 8 p.m. PT.
The fifth grade student at Richard Henry Dana Middle School has been interested in cooking for much of her life, her mother, Megan Carter, told NBC 7. Her skills really began to blossom about two years ago, when she began cooking more on her own.
“She’s really into California fresh-style food and seafood,” Megan explained. “She also makes lunches for herself and her younger sister for school every day and the meals always have to be balanced.
“She’s a stickler about buying all organic,” Megan added. “So our trips to the grocery store are long because she really has to think about everything we’re buying.”
Ashley told NBC 7 her school lunches are nothing fancy, but always delicious.
Megan’s memories of Ashley’s passion in the kitchen include her daughter baking for the holidays and always wanting to make the cake for her family members’ birthday parties. Megan said Ashley also used to help make baby food for her little sister.
Megan said Ashley’s father has worked in French restaurants throughout his life, so this may have influenced her interest and talents as a young chef. Recently, Ashley has taken over making her dad’s signature dish: steamed clams and mussels with ginger.
"It's really, really good," Ashley added.
Megan and Ashley discovered “Chopped Junior” on Netflix and, as Megan noticed Ashley’s culinary skills developing, she applied her daughter for the show.
The competition includes four young chefs who are given baskets of mystery ingredients from which they must create an appetizer, entrée and dessert in 30 minutes. After each course, one contestant is eliminated – or “chopped” – until one is left standing.
Megan said the filming of the show went by quickly, so Ashley didn’t really have time to get nervous on camera. The mother said her daughter was calm, cool and collected on the episode.
“She was so poised and articulate,” Megan said. “She’s an old soul.”
Ashley said the reason she loves cooking so much is because it allows her to be as creative as she wants to be.
"There are no limitations in cooking," she explained. "You can do so much in the kitchen -- even without directions or a recipe."
Ashley and her family will watch Tuesday’s episode of “Chopped Junior” surrounded by family, friends and their community at a viewing party hosted by Raglan Public House (1851 Bacon St.) in Ocean Beach. The eatery will screen the episode twice – at 5 p.m. and 7 p.m. – and Megan said the event will also double as a fundraiser to support Ashley’s middle school and Ocean Beach Elementary School, with some proceeds from sales and Happy Hour specials going to the schools.
Though only 10, Ashley said she sees herself continuing down the culinary path for many years to come, perhaps following in her dad's footsteps in the restaurant industry.
"I get so much enjoyment out of cooking," she said. "I really love it."