Military kids are known for their adaptability, their good humor and their talent to oorah from birth, but did you know they could cook?
Marine kid Helen Wilson, 12, will join the second season of the Food Network’s “Rachael Vs. Guy: Kids Cook-Off” starting August 17. Helen and seven other junior chefs join best-selling cookbook authors Rachael Ray and Guy Fieri to compete in challenges guaranteed to test their skills in the kitchen.
When I talked to Helen this week, she said that she loved all the cooking they did during the taping for the show (even though it was a little stressful) and highly recommends the experience to other military kids.
Helen got started on the cooking thing when her dad, a Marine currently stationed in Omaha, NE, was deployed. “I started making dinners so we could all have a nice meal,” said Helen, the youngest of four Wilson kids. She liked making simple things like broiled steak, salad, rice.
“It is nice to have the family together so you can talk about stuff,” Helen told me. “We actually talk. We have funny conversations. All us kids are close and we are close to our parents because they are extremely supportive.”
The more Helen cooked, the better she cooked. She started making honey and soy sauce pork chops, meat loaf, Brazilian rice, and apple pie. Her current favorite thing to make are French macarons—especially the kind with hazelnut filling.
“I used to be a messy baker so my parents didn’t let me bake,” Helen said. “When I grew up a little I started cleaning up after myself.”
Helen found out about the Kids Cook Off when she was looking up kids cooking shows online. She watched the first season and then wanted to be on the show. Her parents said that if she wanted to give it a try she had to fill out the application on her own. The questionnaire asked about what she cooked and what kind of knife skills she had and what kind of appliances she knew how to use.
“They contacted me the next day,” said Helen. “It was exciting.” Helen went through a round of phone interviews and camera interviews. She had to send in video of herself talking and cooking. Then she had to do a “request” interview in which she had to tell them why they should put her on the show.
Three weeks later she found out she and her mom would be flying to Los Angeles to be part of the program.
“Most of the things I’ve never cooked in my life, like pizza and seafood,” said Helen. “They had mussels, clams, octopus, calamari—it was very hard to pick.”
If you want to find out who won the show, you will have to watch on Sunday nights. Helen is currently looking forward to the new cooking class she will be starting in her middle school this fall.
“I want other kids to know that your age doesn’t control what you can do,” said Helen. “ If you want to cook, you can. If you want to be an artist you can. As long as you pursue your goal and actually try you can do anything.”