He’s a master chef in the making.
Twelve-year-old Brooklynite Luis Ortega received the exciting opportunity to audition to be a contestant on Food Network’s Rachael vs. Guy: Kids Cook-Off, a program that brings eight young talented chefs together to show off their cooking skills. The winner of the competition receives his or her own show on www.foodnetwork.com.
Ortega’s mother read about the show and audition process on Facebook. “I tried out, they liked me and I got the part,” said Ortega. “They gave us ticket to get to Los Angeles. I had a great time over there. During our downtime, we went to Venice Beach and walked on the boardwalk. It was a blast.” Ortega and his family spent three weeks in the west coast during the filming.
During each episode of the show, eight children, four boys and four girls, are divided into two teams to be mentored by Rachael Ray and Guy Fieri.
Meeting the famous chefs was a thrill for the young Brooklyn native. “Both mentors, Rachael and Guy, were great,” he told this paper. “They helped us make sure to cut all the vegetables evenly so they cooked at same time. It was an awesome experience. They’re great chefs and many years ahead of us. They know the tricks. Being mentored by them was phenomenal.” Ortega was on Ray’s team.
The children’s work was observed by the show’s judges, who were also very supportive.
“It was very exciting to meet all super guest judges. They weren’t harsh in their critiques but gave helpful pointers,” Ortega said. “I think we all did well and it was being on show was really fun.”
Although there were many highlights during the taping, Ortega enjoyed expanding his knowledge of the art of cooking the most. “My favorite part was learning different techniques and styles of cooking,” he confessed.
Ortega has been cooking since he was five years old. “I started cooking with my grandparents. We made tortillas,” said. “Then my mom taught me advanced stuff, like different types of meat and fish. I never took any culinary classes. Everything I ever learned came from my mom and grandparents.
“What I love about cooking is to try different spices, putting them together and experimenting. I like to make a lot of fish like salmon trout,” said Ortega, who is currently a student at Brooklyn Urban Garden Charter School, 500 19th Street. His role models in the culinary field include Gordon Ramsay, Robert Irvine and Jamie Oliver.
Although Ortega has a passion for cooking, he is unsure if he wants to make a living out of it in the future. “I wouldn’t take cooking as career. But I still want to continue to do it. I like to travel a lot.” As of now, he has the desire to one day become an agent. His favorite subjects are math and science. He also likes to play piano, football, baseball and basketball.
The second season of “Rachael vs. Guy: Kids Cook-Off” premiered on August 17.