Montclair’s Teen “Chopped” Challenger

At 13, Jake Diamond of Montclair has enough cooking chops to have earned himself a spot on the August 5th episode of the Food Network’s Chopped:Teen Tournament. "Meeting the crew and the people judging me," he says, "I wasn’t nervous at all. I was really happy."

Jake Diamond, Teen Competitor on Chopped
Jake Diamond of Montclair, competing on "Chopped: Teen Tournament."
Photo courtesy of the Food Network

By the time Diamond’s episode airs on Tuesday, August 5th, three groups of four teens each will have competed on previous episodes, and the winner of each group will go head-to-head with the winner of Diamond’s group in the miniseries finale, August 12th.

The winner will claim $25,000 and a culinary school scholarship.

Even though he was one of the youngest competitors, Diamond wasn’t the least bit intimidated.

Being a fan of Chopped, he says, “Just seeing the whole set and being able to touch everything in the kitchen was amazing.

The entire Teen Tournament is already in the can, including the finale, and the competitiors are all very limited in what they are permitted to say about the experience.

What surprised Diamond was that, despite competing against each other during the long, tiring day of filming, “the competitors were not mean at all,” he says. “They were actually really nice kids. We were all friends by the end of the day.”

Diamond first took an interest in cooking at age five. He started taking culinary classes at New York’s Institute of Culinary Education two years ago, when he was 11.

After years of his Dad making videos of him in the kitchen, Diamond first tested his stage presence, competing at age 10 in Superchef Kids, an online cooking competition for ages 8-12.

“I didn’t win," he says, "and I had to understand that losing doesn’t mean everything. I had to learn that having fun was the bigger picture.”

About all Diamond can say about his experience on Chopped: Teen Tournament is that salsa verde figured in his appetizer round and that couscous and buffalo meat had something to do with the entrees. The dessert round–of course he can’t say whether he actually made it to the dessert round–had some kid-friendly elements, namely popcorn balls and gummy fish.

His own favorite thing to cook is meat, any kind, but especially his Asian-style burger with sautéed onions and Sriracha hot sauce. “Everybody loves it,” he says.

Diamond wants people to know that he didn’t enter for the money. “It was an experience of a lifetime,” he says. “I really learned a lot. It’s all for the fun, and at the end of the day, whatever happens is meant to be.”

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