OB youngster has the chops to become a top chef
by DAVE SCHWAB
Published - 11/10/16 - 03:49 PM | 0 0 comments | 25 25 recommendations | email to a friend | print
 Ashley Carter is a student at Dana Middle School.
Ashley Carter is a student at Dana Middle School.
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Dana Middle School student Ashley Carter is a bit precocious.

Which seems fitting for a 10-year-old who just took second place in a TV cooking show and is an aspiring chef.

Carter recently competed on “Chopped Junior,” a reality-based cooking TV show series pitting four adolescent chefs ages 9 to 15 against each other vying for a chance to win $10,000.

“I really have had a love of cooking for a really long time,” said Carter. “There's a photo of me at age 3 in the kitchen. But it wasn't until a couple years ago that I actually started cooking.”

Asked what her chef's special is, Carter replied, “I like to cook all sorts of things, like minced cauliflower.”

The chef-to-be also has another favorite dish she relishes preparing.

“I have a clams and mussel dish I like to make for my dad,” she said, noting “this can be your signature dish if you want.”

Of her delightful seafood recipe, Carter said, “It has a variety of ingredients from jalapeños to tomatoes with wine and all sorts of really yummy ingredients integrated into it.”

Carter noted she had to travel to New York City to compete on “Chopped Junior,” which proved to be a time-intensive undertaking.

The challenge for “Chopped” contestants like Carter is to take a mystery basket of ingredients and turn them into a dish that is judged on its creativity, presentation and taste. In each round, the youthful chefs are given a basket containing between three and five ingredients, and the dish each competitor prepares must use each ingredient in some way. The ingredients are often not commonly prepared together. The competitors are given access to a fully stocked pantry and refrigerator.

The young competitors are given 20 minutes for the appetizer round, with entrée and dessert rounds each lasting 30 minutes.

The dishes prepared by the competitors are critiqued by a panel of judges, who decide which chef is "chopped," eliminated from the competition. The winner receives $10,000 and a highly coveted chef's coat.

“My dream is to own a restaurant and be a chef,” said Carter, adding “I'm not sure what the restaurant would be called, though I know it would have really good food.”

Carter said she's food-centric noting, “You can put any kind of food in front of me, and I will try it 95 percent of the time and like it.”

Of her food philosophy, Carter said, “Good quality matters. It really does. It makes the food taste better, and, overall, is better in general. I also like different varieties of spices. It's really fun to experiment with spices.”

Of her “Chopped Junior” experience, Carter commented, “I had a blast. I met some really great people. The whole time it (TV show) was like go, go, go.”

Ashley said she has someone special who is her model of the perfect cook.

“When it comes to cooking, I look up to my dad,” she said. “He is a master chef who makes a lot of great meals. He knows all about food, and you can tell that in his dishes.”

What makes Ashley Carter's dad's cooking so good?

“He does something super extra,” she said. “He puts lots of love in his food.”

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