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Alexa Lampasona

Guy Fieri on Season Two of “Rachael vs. Guy: Kid’s Cook Off”

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“This is the next step in the food revolution and now I think kid’s cooking shows are going to take off. It is such a phenomenon, and I think we are going to start recognizing that kids are a lot better cooks than we realized.”

-Guy Fieri on “Rachael vs. Guy: Kids Cook Off”

Hosts Guy Fieri and Rachael Ray observe contestant Lauren Zilberman preparing her dish (Photo Credit Food Network)

Hosts Guy Fieri and Rachael Ray observe contestant Lauren Zilberman preparing her dish (Photo Credit Food Network)

You may have seen season one of “Rachael vs. Guy: Kids Cook Off” and thought to yourself- how can an eight-year-old have cooking skills? But the show begs to differ that yes, kids have come a long way since the era of mac n’ cheese and chicken tenders. Now they are the ones dominating the kitchen. Season two airs this Sunday, August 17, and though the contestants, ages nine to 12 have barely hit double digits, they’ve surprised Fieri with their culinary prowess. Here we chatted with Fieri about this season’s top 8 kid contestants.

Were you surprised by the success of season one?

It was amazing to see the response from season one. We had kids, families, relatives and casting agents all coming to us with talented kids. Season two’s casting was a serious process; for eight months the production team scoped out contestants. It went as far as the culinary teams going to the kid’s houses to meet them and see how they cooked.

What distinguishes this season’s contestants from season one?

The first season’s group had no idea how the show was going to be, they just anticipated based on watching other Food Network competition shows. So this time around, the group had a much broader awareness of what was going on.

What will the audience be most surprised to learn about the contestants?

I think every year the talent will ramp up. This year, they really brought their A-game. I was expecting another notch, but I was overwhelmed with how talented these kids were.

How do kid contestants differ from Food Network’s other competition shows?

These kids are cool under pressure, maybe because they don’t know the real pressures of life. At the end of the whole season, one kid wins and the other seven don’t. I thought since these contestants have put blood, sweat and tears into the competition that the others would have meltdowns. But when the winner was announced, they all took a breath, congratulated the winner and after the camera was off, they all hung out and ran around the studio. They acted like kids and didn’t let their ego suck them in.

The competitive food television scene has seriously grown over the past few years, and this show is an example. What has a younger generation on food television done for the culinary industry?

Thank goodness it has finally happened! Kids are so smart and we tend to underestimate them. They have the ability to adapt and learn and they are just sponges. I would coach the kids on my team and then the following week, they were taking my input and compounding it with other aspects and bringing new ideas.

What do you think this show is doing for the future of kids cooking?

The beauty of it is now we are getting to the foundation of kids caring about what they eat and it’s really connecting the dots. I was so sad at the end, because we had so much more room to grow. In the next 5-10 years we are going to be wowed by kids as young as preschool. Now we can create awareness and stop the processed food movement.

Do you think kid’s eating habits changing?

Now kids are expecting more. I would ask the contestants, “What are you having for lunch?” and they would say, “Well, I’m looking forward to having sushi.” It’s great! This is far different from PB&J and potato chips.

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