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Whitestone resident Alessandra Ciuffo has spent nearly a decade in the kitchen honing her culinary skills.
Like all new cooks, Alessandra’s training started with simple tasks, which in her case involved figuring out how to reach the stove.
“When I was 3-years old my father would be in the kitchen cooking,” Alessandra, 12, said. “He would pick me up and we would stir the pot together. It got to the point that when I was 9-years old, I was making pancakes for the whole family.”
These days, her kitchen repertoire includes a lot more than breakfast and beginning this weekend extends all the way to the Food Network’s “Rachael vs. Guy: Kids Cook-Off.”
On this new competitive cooking show, Alessandra and seven other young chefs will be challenged to demonstrate their culinary know-how as the part of a team.
The four-part series includes pop quizzes on all things edible, classroom training with one of the celebrity chefs, and creation and execution of a menu.
As they gather points along the way, one team member will earn the title of MVP of each challenge. The young chef who amasses the most points at the end of the series will receive their own Food Network web series.
For Alessandra, a self-proclaimed diehard Food Network fan, “Rachael vs. Guy: Kids Cook-Off” is exactly the type of show she would watch, if she wasn’t one of the stars.
“I love the competition shows,” said Alessandra. “I just think that is so exciting. You want to watch and see who wins at the end.”
Being on a real TV studio set, instead of just riding by one on a tram like she did on a trip to Universal Studios in Hollywood a few years ago and getting to meet celebrity chefs Rachael Ray and Guy Fieri, proved to be memorable experiences for Alessandra.
But the high point, she said, was spending time with other kids who loved cooking as much as she did.
“It was absolutely amazing to find people who have the same passion,” she said. “And then to be able to keep a conversation going about it. We would talk about how we made things differently.” The show is already history, but Alessandra cannot reveal anything about the competition — not even if she was on Rachael’s or Guy’s team. She can, however, talk about her future.
It’s no surprise culinary training is part of the plans. But Alessandra, who is entering eighth grade at Whitestone’s St. Luke School, doesn’t expect to stop there.
“I want to franchise a lot of restaurants,” said Alessandra, “so I think you need a good math education. Maybe I’ll take two years of business.”
After that she would like to attend the Culinary Institute of America or even Le Cordon Bleu, which she toured on a recent trip to Paris with her parents.
“Then, I’d like to do a semester abroad and learn the different cultures of cooking,” she said.
She has already picked up a cultural trick when it comes to making those pancakes for family breakfasts.
“The secret to a great pancake,” Alessandra said, “is to add a little bit of Greek yogurt to the batter.”
“Rachael vs. Guy: Kids Cook-Off” premieres Sunday, Sept. 8, on Food Network. You can follow Alessandra on Twitter: @chefciuffo or on her Facebook page.
©2013 Community Newspaper Group
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