Thirteen-year-old Henry Wieser loves cooking.
“There’s no rules, you know, you can do anything you want,” he said.
His grandma said Henry and his father Tom always made cooking a contest.
“Tom and Henry always cooked, and they had like a little game going, challenges between the two of them,” said Annemarie Hatch.
Now henry has upped his game, competing with 12 kids chosen from around the country to vie for the title of Top Chef Junior and a $50,000 prize.
On the show Henry could dish it out when the judges handed out crazy challenges including one that paired contestants up to act as just one set of hands.
But he enjoys the freedom to be creative – even cooking us a dish he’s never made before.
“I just thought, you know, all these ingredients are in season, and I think they would make sense together. So there you go,” Henry said.
And he puts the ingredients – New York strip steak, mushrooms, dandelion greens, blackberries and more – together like a work of art.
“Cooking is like an art form, and if you think of it like music and painting, that’s an art form but it’s usually only one sense,” he said. “But cooking can be all the senses- sound, smell, taste, of course, sight.”
While filming Henry got to show off his skills, but he also got to learn from top chefs known around the world.
“I think I really learned how to work under pressure and under the clock,” he said.
One pressure was cooking against the other contestants.
Owen, another contestant on the show, shares Henry’s passion for French cooking.
The pair, who could easily be rivals, became fast friends with a shared dream.
“I want to own a three Michelin Star, so very high-end, tasting menu restaurant with French inspiration, and my plan is to have it with Owen. That’s also his plan, that we have it together,” Henry explained.
Henry could not say if he won the $50,000 prize to invest in their dream, but the two chefs hope to one day open the restaurant together in Chicago or New York.
You can keep up with Henry by following the show on Universal Kids. The Top Chef Junior finale airs in January.
Naperville News 17’s Beth Bria reports.