blog by Visit Ventura
At 13 years old, Carson Peterson already leads a very busy life. He’s a straight-A student, plays basketball, is on the rowing team, and practices the clarinet. Oh, and he’s a Top Chef Junior star on national TV!
Carson’s family roots are in Tuscany and his nonna (Italian grandmother) holds the key to the family recipes that Carson grew up with. Carson started helping his nonna cook when he was four years old. A few years and Food Network shows later, he became her sous-chef and at around 10, he began cooking by himself.
Now 13, Carson loves cooking and watching Top Chef. When he learned about a casting call for Top Chef Junior, he already had a basketball game scheduled for the same day so he decided that if the game ended on time, he would audition. It did, and he did. Carson had never auditioned for anything before. He also lacked any formal cooking training but he didn’t let that stop him from giving it his best shot which landed him a spot in round two.
After sending additional footage demonstrating his cooking skills, Carson took part in a mystery-bag cooking demo to demonstrate that he could be attentive and playful with the camera while cooking. His mystery ingredients came together in a dish that scored him one of 24 spots on round three.
After a test-kitchen boot camp, Carson made the final 12! The group consists of 10-13-year-old girls and boys from all over the US. Some of them have extensive cooking training and have even been on other TV shows. Only Carson and two others have never had formal training but Carson is confident in the skills his nonna passed along.
The first episode of Top Chef Junior‘s second season aired on September 8th and the finale is expected to air in late November or early December. Whoever wins, the experience has already been amazing for Carson and he’s immensely grateful for the opportunity to meet his hero, Chef Curtis Stone, who inspires his dream to be a professional chef with a cooking show.
Carson knows that he could never accomplish half of what he does without his parents’ and nonna‘s support. When he’s a little older, Carson and his family have a trip to Italy planned and in the meantime, Carson and his nonna will continue perfecting their ravioli -a recipe they make from scratch for the entire family each Christmas. (He also made ravioli on The Today Show with Kathie Lee and Hoda!) After all, Carson’s motto is that the only way to get better at cooking is to cook more!
Since taping the show, Carson has started an internship with Executive Baker Jarrett Chambers at his favorite bakery in Ventura, Cafe Ficelle. He also plans to intern at Slate, a new restaurant in Camarillo opened by Will Smith’s former personal chef. After seeing him on TV, his four-year-old sister has also started cooking from her play kitchen and serves up tasty dishes which she already touts are better than his.