When Chopped features teenage chefs, we’re always impressed by their talent and confidence. Just like our past interviews with Emma Scher, Shania Thomas and Greg Grossman, we’ve learned that Simona Alomary is not your ordinary teenager when it comes to the kitchen. Read on to see what Simona says about her experience on the show.
FP: How did you get your start with cooking?
SA: I got my start in cooking at the age of four or five when my mom brought me into the kitchen and taught me how to make scratch made cookies, brownies, breads, and cakes. Baking was my first love but as I got older, my mom started to teach me how to make savory dishes from her and my dad’s family recipes.
FP: Sounds like you were born to bake and cook!
Name some chefs that have inspired you.
SA: Some chefs that inspire me are Giada DeLaurentiis, Ina Garten, Michael Symon, Alex Guarnaschelli, Marcus Samuelsson, and Geoffrey Zakarian.
FP: All great chefs indeed!
If you could cook with JUST one of them, who would it be?
SA: If I could cook with one, it would be Chef Ina Garten. It’s been a dream of mine since I was little to cook with her! I grew up watching her and she’s a home chef who likes simple ingredients and clean flavors like myself. I use a lot of her tips and recipes and change them up to give them some of my personal style in my kitchen.
FP: Tell us about your experience on Chopped. What was the hardest ingredient to work with? Which round was the most difficult?
SA: The hardest ingredient to work with was the broccoli rabe in the first round. I had never tried broccoli rabe but I had heard about its notorious bitter flavor and it’s appeal to an advanced palette if cooked properly.
FP: Which round was the most difficult?
SA: I think the dessert round was the hardest because I had to turn breakfast items that are generally savory like bagels and cream cheese into something sweet and composed as an overall dessert dish. The cotton candy grapes were definitely intriguing but it wasn’t much different from a normal green grape.
FP: We thought you showed great composure throughout the episode!
What are some of your favorite meals to cook for yourself and/or for guests?
SA: Some of my favorite meals to cook for myself and my family are roasted root vegetables with grilled chicken and a fresh arugula and spinach salad. I also love baking a variety of specialty cookies and bars that I hope to sell one day.
FP: Sign us up..we’ll purchase your specialty cookies and bars for sure!
When you go out to eat, name some of your favorite places in Piscataway or other parts of NJ.
SA:I love going to Mamouns Falafel’s Restaurant in New Brunswick and Fatals Syrian Bakery in Paterson, NJ.
FP: What are some of your guilty pleasures? We like to call them foodie pleasures, hence the name 🙂
SA: Some of my guilty pleasures are definitely chocolate (any kind, any way!), frozen yogurt, pecan pie, and any sort of pastry.
FP: We’re with you on all those foodie pleasures!
What are some of your non-cooking hobbies?
SA: Some of my non cooking hobbies are running, singing, drawing, learning new things, exercising, shopping, and hanging out with my friends. I especially love running though and I run for the Piscataway Chiefs in cross country, winter track, and spring track. Shout out to my track and cross country girls!!
FP: Happy running! Thank you so much for your time. We know you have a bright future ahead and look forward to following your career!