If only she’d be lucky enough to get tomato as a basket ingredient. It’ll probably be something like Spam or blood pudding when she competes on Chopped!
Think back to being a teenager and try to remember the things that you accomplished. Maybe you had a job and maybe you did a few great community service projects, but let’s be honest. You probably spent 1/4 of your time playing video games and hanging with friends, 1/1000 of those years doing HW, and 1/2 just putzing around. But that’s not the case with Hannah Bukzin, 14, of Westport. She has already done some amazing things like win The Marcia Selden Ultimate Dinner Party Contest with Judges Marcia and Robin Selden as well as “Sweet Genius” Ron Ben-Israel. Also, she recently kicked off her summer internship with Robin, Marcia, Jeffrey, Nicole and the amazing crew at Marcia Selden Catering and has been having a great time. And, yes, she’ll be on a little show airing 7/29 at 10 on Food Network that you might have heard of: Chopped. Hannah’s episode is Part Three of the Teen Tournament, so if she goes on to win she’ll face the three other winners at the Finale on 8/12 and pull in a $25,000 culinary school scholarship.
Well, we had a chance to talk with Hannah about cooking, her favorite foods, what it’s like working with adults, interning, and more. Here we go:
When did you first realize that you loved cooking?
So, when people used to ask me this question I said, I’m not really sure. But after some deep thinking I realized that it was probably around 6 or 7 years ago. I was going through a stage where I only ate pasta and lettuce (as I used to say, a salad) for dinner. I started realized what other people were eating and there were other foods out there! I decided it was time for me to make a change, and voila! I made my first piece of tilapia with some sautéed carrots. I still have the photo! My, have I come a long way from that.
What’s your favorite dish to make, whether it’s simple or complex?
I get asked this question a lot and it’s really a difficult choice. I love experimenting with different flavors but if I had to choose it would definitely be a marinated skirt steak with a homemade chimmichurri sauce- roasted potatoes on the side
We can’t get enough Latin food, but how about you? What’s your favorite cuisine?
Ironically I actually really like Latin food too! I can tell you I love to eat Italian food better than anything else! Cooking wise, though, I would say its not my favorite cuisine that matters as much as my style – classic dishes with a modern twist. This can go with any and every cuisine that I cook.
The dreaded Mystery Basket!!! Photo from Foodnetwork.com
What are some of your favorite restaurants in the area?
I definitely love Local and Geronimo’s in Fairfield. If I’m looking for comfort food its Grilled Cheese Eatery all the way—but I can’t eat there too much!!
What’s one thing that people really don’t understand about you being young and a protegé in the kitchen?
Wow, a protegé? I didn’t know I qualified! Well, it’s really difficult to understand how much it really takes to put yourself out there in the kitchen. Many people I have worked with have strong personalities (which I love) and are much older than me. It is difficult to sometimes stand out and really show that I am not just another annoying kid who walks in thinking she knows everything. Despite this, I am lucky to have worked with some amazing people who have made me feel welcome and make my job of “being an adult in the kitchen” much easier.
How has the internship at Marcia Selden Catering been going? What are some of the amazing things that you’ve been doing there?
This internship is one of the best things I have ever done in my entire life. I am so lucky and grateful for this amazing opportunity to work with fantastic chefs and people. They definitely threw me right in! I am doing things that I never knew that I could do—I told my mom that this isn’t an internship where they are babysitting me. The chefs in the kitchen, Robin and Marcia are counting on me to put out great food that represents Marcia Selden Catering Company in the light they deserve. I have done everything from plating up to-go meals to prepping for a wedding tasting. Who knows what is coming next?
How did it feel to be selected for Chopped Teen?
It was absolutely amazing! A once in a lifetime opportunity. All I did was send in an application like thousands of other kids and I was elated when they called me!
Your episode will air on 7/29, but we’re wondering if you’d share anything that you learned from competing against the three other teen chefs and being on tv?
Unfortunately, I can’t make any comment on the show but I did meet some amazing people and I can’t wait for it to air (even though I won’t watch it)!
We can’t blame Hannah for not watching! The tension is already too much for us to bear, and we didn’t even compete. If you can’t watch live or if you don’t have a DVR, you can also watch her episode on 7/30 at 1 am, 7/31 at 11 pm, 8/1 at 2 am, and 8/2 at 6 pm. Lots of luck Hannah!