Tennessee 4-Hers showcase culinary skills in Chopped-style cooking challenge

Tennessee’s young stars in 4-H competed head-to-head in a cooking competition inspired by the hit Food Network show, Chopped, with an emphasis on how students can turn their love of agriculture and food into a successful career in culinary.

In a sizzling display of culinary skills and teamwork, youth from Tennessee’s 4-H program recently participated in a thrilling “Chopped Cooking Challenge,” a head-to-head battle inspired by the hit Food Network television show, created to inspire kids in ag programs to consider a future career in food.

This event, which was held at the Tennessee State Fairgrounds in Wilson County, not only participant’s cooking abilities to the test but also offered valuable career insights. Charles Denney took us behind the scenes to discover the delectable creations and the lessons these talented 4-Hers gleaned from the experience.

Chopping with a Purpose

Glistening blades and sharp creativity took center stage as these young 4-H participants delved into the “Chopped Cooking” competition. The fair’s theme revolved around corn, making it a mandatory ingredient for each team’s culinary masterpiece.

“We’re making Mexican street corn, with enchiladas and fruit dip,” Emily Burks, one of the young chefs, said enthusiastically. “Sounds pretty good? It is.”

Unity and Delicious Dishes

Three teams passionately competed, each crafting a Tex-Mex main dish accompanied by an array of mouthwatering sides, fresh vegetables, and produce. But for the students, this was a friendly competition as well as an exercise in unity and communication.

“Part of it, too, is we’re getting them on communication and teamwork,” said organizer Erin Ortiz. “So, how to really work with a team, and that they’re learning to also communicate with their team members since they only have 90 minutes to prepare an appetizer, a meal, and an entrée.”

From Local to National

The stakes are high for the winning team of this event, who will earn the chance to represent Tennessee at an upcoming National Chopped Cooking event at the Texas State Fair in 2024. However, the true reward was the valuable learning experience offered to all participants, especially those with aspirations of pursuing careers in the culinary arts.

“I started in food science; It was like my passion to cook,” explained Jaiden Graves, another participant already accomplished in the kitchen. “I worked in restaurants for about three years. So, started off early working in a restaurant—always had a dream to cook. It was just something I enjoy doing for fun.”

The young chefs also had the opportunity to receive cooking and career advice from Chef Julio Hernandez, Chef-Owner of Nashville’s award-winning Maiz De La Vida taco truck, who served as one of the judges. The 4-H leaders aimed to connect these budding food enthusiasts with potential mentors, helping them explore the path to becoming chefs.

A Taste of Success

After the chopping and baking frenzy, the moment of truth arrived as the judges sampled the delectable creations. Impressed by the young chef’s culinary talents, it was evident that introducing young minds to the world of food can lead to exciting opportunities.

The competition, inspired by the popular “Chopped Cooking” TV show, concluded with a victory for a team from Moore County. As the competition wrapped up, it was clear that these young culinary talents had not only showcased their skills but also taken a step closer to fulfilling their dreams of becoming future culinary maestros.

Cooking with 4-H
Young bakers learn valuable life skills while making a difference in their community through the Springfield, Tennessee 4-H program.
Tennessee 4-Hers are helping families access healthy foods—and learning lessons through hard work and hustle.

Rural Lifestyle & Entertainment Shows
First introduced to RFD-TV on Larry’s Country Diner, The Malpass Brothers, modern day troubadours, bring you their very own, brand-new show to RFD-TV. Viewers can enjoy traditional country music from the brother duo of Chris & Taylor Malpass, a featured celebrity guest on each episode, and loads of clever humor.
Join popular polka performer Mollie Busta as she hosts the weekly “Mollie B Polka Party” on RFD-TV! The one-hour program features the nation’s top polka bands and a wide variety of ethnic styles produced on location at music festivals from around the country.
Dailey & Vincent are BACK ON RFD-TV for another great season, brought to you by Gus Arrendale & Springer Mountain Farms. Join them as they welcome scores of fabulous bluegrass, country, and gospel music acts as special guests!
SharkFarmer TV is the brainchild of Rob Sharkey, a 5th-generation farmer from Illinois. He shares the stories of incredible people in agriculture—both their successes and perhaps a few blunders along the way. You’ll see aerial footage of the field just as the drone crashes into a barn—and hear the story behind it all.
Ray’s Roadhouse is a weekly program featuring the music of Ray Benson and Asleep at the Wheel. Ray and his band Asleep at the Wheel has had a more than 50 year career in the music industry and over the years have earned nine Grammy Awards. The program also will feature guest performers such as Pat Green, Stoney LaRue and Kelly Willis.