In many ways, Northlea resident Christopher Lexovsky has been preparing for his upcoming appearance on ”Chopped Canada Teen” for much of his life.
The 17-year-old Northern Secondary student will be a competitor on the Saturday, February 11, 2017 episode of the popular show airing at 9:00 p.m. on the Food Network.
“Chopped Canada Teen” features 20 of Canada’s best teen chefs (aged 14 to 17), four per episode, who use their skills and creativity to turn baskets of mystery ingredients into outstanding three-course meals within a limited amount of time. After each course, the rotating panel of judges “chops” one contestant, and the last chef remaining collects the prize of $10,000.
Chris Lexovsky’s talent for cooking may have come from his father, Nick, who started working in the food business right after high school, opening a deli, two pubs and a fine dining restaurant over a period of several years. Now he and his brother own two restaurant franchises.
Chris himself started making simple meals at age 10 and, once he saw what a great help his cooking was to his busy family – his father, mother Kimberly, a senior law clerk, and his younger sister, Zoe – he “got super into it and started looking at it as a serious career choice in Grade 9” when he did a project on cooking for his Careers course.
Chris is largely self-taught and was inspired by social media and television chef celebrities like Gordon Ramsay, Thomas Keller and Mark McEwan to “push boundaries and invent new dishes” through the process of trial and error. It all came together for him last year in Grade 11 when he secured a co-op placement working at the highly regarded catering firm Daniel et Daniel. Chris was soon working at various events and learning how to fill 500 plates in less than 10 minutes.
With that experience under his belt, Chris entered the Best Teen Chef Competition in Toronto in 2016, and won the gold medal for his meal of pork tenderloin with peppercorn sauce, dauphinoise potatoes and carrot bundles tied with blanched leeks. He enjoyed that competition so much that he submitted a photograph of his award-winning meal to “Chopped Canada Teen” along with a 2,000-word essay about his cooking background and plans for the prize money, and a picture of himself as his application for the show. His submission quickly rose to the top of a pile of thousands of entries, and he was contacted by phone the very next day and met with the director within a week.
Before the taping of his show in Toronto last June, Chris put in hours of preparation. Daniel et Daniel made up mystery baskets for him, and he had to come up with dishes in half an hour. As well, he got tips from master chef Susur Lee through a connection with the catering firm. Chris also memorized a variety of recipes beforehand that could be used to adapt a basic idea to the given ingredients. He found the format very challenging because, as he says, “You have only your knowledge and creativity to get you through, and you have to know immediately what you are doing.”
Though the experience of appearing on “Chopped Canada Teen” was stressful in some ways, this mature young chef learned he was good at handling stress. In fact, he says he would enter more contests because the competition was “lots of fun with its adrenaline rush and the experience of finding out how good you can be when cooking for five-star chefs.”
Despite his culinary prowess, Chris has recently decided to pursue a career in law when he heads off to university next year because a career in food is just too time-consuming with its inflexible hours. In the meantime, he will continue cooking nightly meals for the family, experimenting and developing his own recipes because he enjoys the creativity.
We can’t wait to see Chris compete on “Chopped Canada Teen” on February 11!