BALTIMORE (WJZ) — There is a top chef in Baltimore, whose name you don’t know and whose restaurant you haven’t visited yet, because he’s only 13-years-old.
Owen Pereira taught WJZ’s Denise Koch a thing or two in the kitchen. Koch visited the 8th grader at the Baltimore Montessori Public Charter School and watched him prepare scallops, pea terrine, cauliflower puree and pancetta.
“I never really cook to recipes. I tend to not ever do that,” Pereira said.
Instead, the chef-in-the-making goes by instinct, which has been honed by hours of reading cook books and watching chefs on YouTube.
Owen’s instincts are so good that he has become a finalist on Universal Kids “Top Chef Junior” which airs Friday nights at 8 p.m. there and on Bravo.
Three hundred young people auditioned, and 22 semi-finalists were sent to California, where a cooking boot camp narrowed the group to 12. Owen and 11 other young girls and boys then competed in cooking challenge after challenge until there were 5.
His strength: plating.
“I’m pretty particular about my plates. I hate the plates that dip and have edges on them,” Pereira said.
In the show, he was careful how he presented his food, “Everything needs to be aligned.”
Koch says she learned a lot from Owen.
“Whenever I sear something, I never season with pepper because pepper can burn, unlike salt,” Pereira said.
The teen had plenty of cooking tips and advice to share.
“Fat renders out when you start cooking with a cold pan. The same thing is true when you cook duck. Duck has so much fat in it, you start with a cold pan,” Pereira said.
As for the most important thing he learned on the show, “Seasoning. If you season on every step, your dish will taste better in the end.”
The finale has been shot and Owen knows who won the $50,000 prize, but he’s not saying.
What he will say is he and co-contestant Henry have a 50-year plan. They are going to open a French restaurant together, and eventually earn three Michelin stars.