In the most recent episode of Chopped, one of the contestants was a 16 year old who was attending the Children's Professional School in New York City (that I've mostly heard of in relation to young people who are actors, musicians, and athletes) and labeled as a cooking prodigy.
Given the short time on Chopped, they didn't really explain what it meant for him to be a cooking prodigy. Did he attend culinary school at 13? Is he working in professional kitchens or as a private chef?
To me, the term prodigy implies that a young person is able to do something at a very high level typically only achieved by older adults. And yet with a chef, I'm not sure what that would mean. Most "top chefs" that we hear of, have their own restaurant at some point. But being a business owner/manager doesn't imply any cooking skills. Not to mention the historical tradition of someone working their way up through a kitchen.
However, I'm also not denying that there is clearly a difference between a lovely home cook and a quality professional kitchen. And a difference between a lovely quality professional kitchen and a truly amazing professional kitchen.
So, Chowhounds - what are your thoughts on a prodigy chef? Is it possible? Is this kid just some unique mix of skill and parents who will advocate for him to take this path? If there is such a "thing" as a prodigy chef, what would you expect to see? Thoughts?
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