Top Chef Family Style is a new spinoff of the Top Chef cooking competition series, and the series premiere will include a mother-son team from Scottsdale.
The competition showcases “13 exceptionally talented culinary prodigies,” who will put their skills to the test with the help of an adult family member.
Watch Jack Cruickshank, a 12-year-old budding chef from Scottsdale, and his mother Bobbie Lopez work together to impress a slew of celebrities and chefs in weekly challenges as they compete for a $50,000 grand prize.
‘Mom wasn’t very good at cooking’
Cruickshank said he became interested in cooking as young as five because “mom wasn’t very good at cooking,” he said.
“My flavors were very basic — chicken and side of vegetables,” Lopez said. “It wasn’t spicy or interesting enough for him. He took everything basic to next level.”
Lopez said she had a distant relationship with food before her son took an interest in it.
“When you’re just a busy mom, you’re making the basics to keep them healthy and get by,” Lopez said. “But when you have somebody so passionate, to see food through his eyes, it’s a whole world opened up to me.”
A chef in the making
When Cruickshank was six, she enrolled him in a cooking class so he could learn how to properly hold a knife. By age seven, Cruickshank was honing his skills by watching YouTube videos and experimenting at home, using ingredients his parents had never cooked with, such as jackfruit and truffles.
Cruickshank, who also keeps a backyard garden, said he likes to incorporate ingredients that speak to where he’s living and where his family’s from, such as Arizona citrus and prickly pears, as well as Hatch green chiles from his mother’s home state of New Mexico.
He hopes to one day open a restaurant in Arizona with an aeroponics farm, so he can cook using ingredients grown in-house. Aeroponics is an indoor, vertical farming system that doesn’t require soil and can water consumption compared to traditional farming.
Why this Arizona pre-teen is competing
Cruickshank said gaining feedback and validation from high-profile chefs is what motivated him to compete.
Grammy Award-winning singer Meghan Trainor hosts the show and celebrity chef and restaurateur Marcus Samuelsson serves as head judge. Big names from Tom Colicchio to Kwame Onwuachi will also appear on the show to lend their culinary expertise.
“After I do this, this is not the only thing I’m going to do,” Cruickshank said. “I’m only 12. There are so many opportunities.”
How to watch Top Chef Family Style
Top Chef Family Style will premiere on Thursday, Sept. 9 on Peacock, the streaming service from NBCUniversal.
Expect star-studded appearances from the cast of Saved by the Bell, WWE Superstars and Top Chef host Padma Lakshmi.
The first two episodes will be released simultaneously. Afterward, a new episode will be released each Thursday.
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