My first memories of Morgan Goldstein were at her house, trapped behind her mini-bake oven, as she forced me to chop vegetables with a plastic knife. I should have known then that cooking was in her future.
Morgan and I have been friends since birth. But like molasses, Morgan and I have slowly moved in different directions. Several years later, my love of writing and her passion for cooking brought us back together. Now, here we are, sipping Macchiatos and speaking about her budding cooking career.
Morgan Goldstein: Chopped Teen Tournament
Morgan is a ninth grader at Laurel School in Shaker Heights, Ohio. Her early love of cooking and baking has continued to grow. She teaches cooking classes for children, bakes healthy dog treats to support a local Humane Society, feeds countless friends and family members, and most recently, competed on the Food Network’s Chopped Teen Tournament.
When Morgan and I began to talk, she shared that in every interview, she gets asked the same questions. Oh the pressure. Suddenly I am left wondering if my shopping list of questions is good enough for her. Left with no other option, I asked them anyway.
“How does your cooking impact your family?” “Well, my family definitely eats well,” she began. “Cooking is a great outlet for me. It makes me happy, and I just love doing it.”
When I asked whether her mother thought cooking was just a passing phase, she was quick to respond. “I’ve been doing it since I was three. I’ve always wanted to learn everything I could about cooking.”
Curious about whether her mom is encouraging, I asked Morgan how her mother helps. “My mom supports my passion,” Morgan says. “She makes sure that I have all the ingredients and tools I need for my cooking.” For her seventh birthday, she scored a Kitchen Aid mixer. For her twelfth birthday, she got a crème brûlée torch.
In addition to cooking, Morgan is a good student and a dancer. I was curious how she balances everything. “It’s hard, but I often do homework very late at night,” She noted. “I like having both dancing and cooking. When I don’t have dance, I cook. And when I have dance, I don’t cook as much. Both are really great outlets for me.”
I couldn’t help but ask Morgan the simmering questions most teens, and I, wanted to know about the Chopped Teen Tournament:
“Did you meet any famous chefs other than the judges?”
“Do you keep in touch with your competitors?”
“No, but they were nice and very talented.”
“Who are your favorite chefs?”
Anne Burrell, Alex Guarnaschelli, and Alton Brown.
“What was your biggest mistake in the kitchen?”
“ I juiced a lemon with a knife and cut my finger on TV.”
“Do you have a favorite gift?”
“A lemon juicer from my grandmother (so I don’t cut my finger again!)”
Where does a rising Food Network star go from here? Morgan will be competing in the American Culinary Federation competition in Columbus, Ohio at the end of October. She will have 70 minutes to complete a pre-planned dish. Goldstein thinks this competition will be harder than the Chopped Teen Tournament.
“I think it will be a lot harder,” shares Morgan, “because the master chefs will be judging on cleanliness, skill, knife technique, and how much food is wasted.”
This competition is based on a point system, and competitors can win a bronze, silver, or gold medal. “I’m going for the gold,” she says with a smirk of confidence. And I know she will.
Michael Symon…watch out.