Young Grand Valley chef mixes it up on fifth season of TV show
As I headed to meet with Cole Householder, an aspiring 10-year-old chef and one of the contestants on the upcoming fifth season of MasterChef Junior, I reflected on the first time I met him. It was about four years ago, when he was brought to the Palisade Peach Festival by his mother, Kimla Carstens, and stepfather, Henry Delahoz.
He was entering the contest, making him our youngest contestant ever. He has entered every year since, winning third place in the sweet and savory category with Cole’s Killer Grilled Peach Burger in 2014, and honorable mention in 2015 with his Peach Pork Sliders. Oh, did I mention he was competing in the adult category? That’s not all he’s done over those years. He has prize-winning ribbons from the Fruita Fall Festival Cooking Contest, winning second place with his Breakfast Burger (egg, bacon and seasonings on a square donut). Add to this his participation in the Grand Junction Pork and Hops Kid Que Challenge, master division, at Pork and Hops events in September, where he’s won with dishes like:
■ Beef Wellington, with the meat cooked on the grill and the puff pastry in a Dutch oven.
■ Wagyu steak with compound butter, arugula salad and grilled watermelon
■ Bread pudding, with the pastry made in a Dutch oven and the sauce on the grill.
Cole’s winning peach recipe for his Killer Grilled Peach Burger included “Cole’s Red Rub Seasoning and Cole’s Zesty Peach BBQ Sauce.” How did he make the rub and sauce? As many creative chefs would say, he said, “I just threw it together, but I have a list of my favorite spices such as pepper, paprika, chimichurri Rib&Roast seasoning, truffle salt, chives and more.” Check out his burger recipe at palisadecoc.com. Last year, he demonstrated a dish at Palisade’s Peach Cuisine with Colorado Chefs, representing youth chefs.
I guess you can say this all was part of his journey to being selected as a contestant on MasterChef Junior, and it led to my arranging a visit with Cole, his mother, and his stepdad, who teaches Cole a lot about creating delicious dishes. Cole was adamant about crediting his mentor and good friend, chef Nick Santos at Café Sol, for the opportunity to learn and develop culinary techniques, including those important knife skills all chefs need.
“I can’t remember when he wasn’t in the kitchen,” Carstens said. “He’s always loved cooking and was always wanting to help.”
Delahoz said Cole is a great kid — smart, creative, loves to cook — and could be headed to a culinary career, if he wants. His Boy Scout leader, Remi Galvan, marveled at Cole teaching the troop all about Dutch oven cooking and making a delicious gumbo-type dish. I asked Galvan if he was surprised at hearing the news about Cole competing on MasterChef Junior.
“I wasn’t surprised, but I was sure proud,” he said.
So how does one get to be on the MasterChef Junior for children ages 8 to 13? Cole loved to watch the show and soon was dreaming about being a contestant. The family got busy and sent a video audition to MasterChef Junior in Los Angeles. It worked! They contacted him right away. Next came doing more videos, interviews and all that becoming a contestant entails. Then it was off to L.A. as one of the 40 contestants for the new season. They had to keep their TV appearance to themselves and not mention it to anyone. They sure can keep a secret. I once said to them that they should consider getting on one of those children’s culinary shows. Little did I know that it had already happened.
Cole says it was an awesome experience. They were kept busy with classes, practices, working and meeting judges Chef Gordon Ramsay and Chef Christina Tosi and the other contestants and their parents (one parent goes with them). Cole had never been to L.A. before and fell in love with the beach. He says, “Chefs Gordon and Christina were so much fun to work with and Gordon was really funny,” Cole said.
“Cole and I have made lifelong friends. It was a wonderful opportunity and experience we’ll never forget, and we thank MasterChef Junior for this adventure,” his mother said.
One more question for Cole: What does he want to be when he grows up? “Maybe a chef, but hey, I’m only 10, so it’s a little early to decide.”
Congratulations, Cole, we’ll be watching.