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Young Chefs Compete for "Chopped Junior" Fame

Tom Flanigan

Eighteen young cooks between the ages of 9 and 17 were competing at the Moon in Tallahassee the evening of Sunday, 10/29 for a chance to appear on the Food Network's "Chopped Junior" program.

It was during last year's inaugural local event that Food Network executives met Tallahassee's Shacafrica Simmons, better known as "Chef Shac." She went on to win the adult "Chopped" competition, recalled Whole Child Leon Executive Director Courtney Atkins.

"So from being a judge, Chef Shac was introduced to the Executive Producer Linda Lea and auditioned for the show and won! So I think the Food Network and 'Chopped' see Tallahassee as having lots of talent."

Atkins said many of the area's restaurants were also competing.

"We have 21 restaurants here that are part of the 'Restaurant Challenge,'" she explained. "The audience gets to pick their favorite and then the judges pick theirs. We also have a new judge here, Josh Cooper, and he was the 'Barbeque Pit Master' champion. He won $150,000 on Fox's 'Master Chef.'"

The event is a major fundraiser for Whole Child Leon.

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Tom Flanigan has been with WFSU News since 2006, focusing on covering local personalities, issues, and organizations. He began his broadcast career more than 30 years before that and covered news for several radio stations in Florida, Texas, and his home state of Maryland.

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