The secret is finally out: Douglas County has a rising celebrity junior chef in its midst.
An 11-year-old from Douglasville won the grand prize of $10,000 on Food Network’s "Chopped Junior" in an episode that aired Tuesday night.
Rose Genter, a sixth-grade student at Factory Shoals Middle School, was judged the best out of four contestants on the episode titled “Rise and Cook!"
Students at her school welcomed their newfound celebrity schoolmate Wednesday with rounds of applause at she walked down the hall to her classroom.
The episode was described by Food Network as “Four young cooks set out to make the judges the most important meal of the day: breakfast! French toast and cereal are remixed in the first basket. Then, the kids struggle to make perfect eggs against the clock in the entrée round. The two finalists in the dessert round get to work with an extravagant breakfast-themed cake and a grown-up breakfast beverage.”
“It was very cool being on TV,” Rose told the Sentinel recently. “It was a great experience. We met great families and great kids.”
She and her mother, Crystal Genter, had to “sneak away quietly” to New York City in October when the episode was being taped and they had to keep the secret that Rose had won the competition until the Feb. 14 episode aired and the winner was revealed.
The family held a red carpet viewing party Tuesday night for family and friends gathered around the television as one-by-one, each young chef was eliminated and Rose was left standing.
“The reactions at the party Tuesday night were good when I made it through the rounds,” said Rose, who was wearing a black formal gown and literally walked down a red carpet and posed in front of an Oscar-style backdrop her mother created for the momentous event.
Upon winning the junior chef competition, host Ted Allen asked her what she was going to do with the winnings. Rose announced she wanted to get a bulldog and a food truck.
Well, it looks as though the food truck will have to wait a few years, but the family is meeting with an animal rescue in hopes of adopting a bulldog.
Rose’s mother relayed a story about their return trip home from the New York taping and Rose’s somewhat quirky spending habits.
“In New York, we had a couple of hours to spare before heading to the airport,” Crystal said. “So we went to get Melissa’s Cupcakes” — which she described as “bite-sized dreamboats of cupcakes”—“then Rose wanted to go spend some of her money at Staples. We walked down to Staples where she bought a bunch of mechanical pencils. She likes to take them apart and customize them with different colors.”
So where does this new junior celebrity chef go from here?
Rose said that her “favorite teacher ever,” Gillian Phillips, wants her to go onto the “Kids Baking Championship” reality cooking show. But Rose said if there were a “Cutthroat Kitchen Junior” competition “that would be amazing.”
She said, “Master Chef Junior would be really fun, but I need to practice a little more.”
The “Chopped Junior” taping lasted over a fast-paced three days, her mother explained. They tape the opening biographies on the first day then spend a full second day taping the show. The third day was spent in taping interviews.
“The judges were fantastic,” said Crystal, “and were positive as they critiqued the food. They were fun and everyone was so nice. All the kids had fun.”
Rose said that Cliff Crooks from “Top Chef” was her favorite judge.
A lot of hard work went into both preparing for and participating in the cooking reality show, but Rose’s tireless energy and passion for cooking pushed her through.
“Every kid faced their own challenges,” said Crystal. “Rose had never cooked on a gas grill. They had to think fast once they were given the ingredients they had to use to prepare a dish.”
Rose said, “Nothing I made on the show had been made by me at home.”
She had never made a “Toad in a Hole” before creating that with waffles before the competition.
“We went through three seasons of Chopped and studied every episode they’d ever done,” said Crystal. “We’re just ordinary people —we couldn’t afford a chef to help train her. We made a game out of it. If she didn’t know an ingredient or flavor profile, we would find a recipe on YouTube on how to make it. Rose studied really hard with some really crazy ingredients.”
Just getting on as a contestant with "Chopped Junior" was a challenge. Rose had her first interview with the show on the first day of school.
“The feature dish she tried out with was ‘Linguine ala Rose’ which was made with homemade noodles and homemade mozzarella,” said Crystal. “It was what she used to audition for the show.”
“She put a lot of hard work into it,” said Rose’s mother. “She put her time in studying for it. It was like our ‘secret mission’.”
To Rose, her rise to success was a team effort.
“I couldn’t have made it without mom,” the sixth grader said.
Although her mother said she was ready for a breather from all of the rushing around, Rose said she is ready for more excitement.
“It has been a journey for months and months,” said Crystal, “but it has been really great.”
Just a few days after Rose was announced as winner of Chopped Junior, her mother describes the feeling as “surreal.”
The confident, resourceful, creative and intelligent young lady displayed a spark, wit and personality made for television. But she also made waves on Star 94 earlier this week as she was featured with co-hosts Jeff and Jen as they gave her a break room Chopped challenge with items from the radio station’s refrigerator and vending machines.
This week she was also invited to serve as a judge at “Taste of Douglasville” this year by the Douglasville-Douglas County Cultural Arts Council.
“I don’t doubt that she will go places,” said her mother. “She has so much confidence and has no fear —and that’s a good thing to have.”