The first ever Chopped Teen Tournament on Food Network was filled with a range of emotions, camaraderie & budding friendships, intense competition and most importantly, culinary talent. With each episode, we were impressed by the composure, competitive nature and skill set demonstrated by each of the chefs. We also kept in mind that they were teenagers– and as a result, had their share of funny comments and memorable quotes. One remark that had us laughing during the finale was “We’re not known for little meals down south” by Tommi Rae Fowler, winner of the Chopped Teen Tournament. She displayed her southern charm and culinary skills on her way to becoming Champion. We reached out to Tommi Rae to learn more about her background and experience on the show.
FP: Congrats on winning the Chopped Teen Tournament! What was your initial reaction when you realized you won?
TRF: My initial reaction was I couldn’t believe it. It was so surreal and still is!
FP: Tell us about your experience on the show.
TRF: I was completely shocked when I found out I was going to be on Chopped. At the same time extremely nervous and excited. I never thought it would happen because I’m just a small town girl who hasn’t really done anything big in the culinary world. Chopped was an incredible adventure. I’m so thankful for the friends I made and the people I met. It was definitely worth me getting out of my comfort zone and I would do it again in a heartbeat!
FP: By winning, you’ve definitely accomplished something big in the culinary world!
How did you get your start with cooking?
TRF: Since I was born my grandmother owned a restaurant called The Down Town Cafe and my whole family has worked there at one time. So I grew up around it. My mother and my grandma always cook, so I watched them and it seemed like those are where my fondest memories are, my family is in the kitchen.
FP: Name three chefs you would like to cook with.
FP: What are some of your favorite meals to cook at home for yourself and/or for guests?
TRF: I love to cook chicken because it is really a blank canvas, and you can go any route with the flavors you put on it. And I love to make homemade pizza.
FP: Can’t go wrong with chicken and pizza!
When you go out to eat, name some of your favorite places in your area or other cities you’ve visited.
TRF: I am in love with sushi and seafood. My favorite sushi place is Tokyo Bay in Anderson; they know what they are doing with sushi! In Hilton Head there is a place called Julian’s and they have amazing oysters! If you get some raw oysters on the half shell, a saltine cracker, lemon juice, horse radish, and cocktail sauce all piled up, it is delicious!
FP: We were in Savannah, GA last month so we know there is good food down south. We’ll have to visit South Carolina in the near future!
What are some of your guilty pleasures? We like to call them foodie pleasures, hence the name 🙂
TRF: My guilty pleasures are chocolate peanut butter milkshakes and caramel apples with peanuts!
FP: A chocolate peanut butter milkshake sounds good right about now!
What do you like to do when you’re not at school or cooking? What are your interests and hobbies?
TRF: I love to swim, hangout with my best friend Brooke, do make-up and watch videos on YouTube about it. Also, I watch Food Network and Cooking Channel.
FP: Give us three words that family & friends would use to describe you.
TRF: Three words my friends would say: adventurous , funny, and kind. My Mom says head strong, dramatic, and loving.
FP: With those characteristics, you’re sure to go far!
Where will we see Chef Tommi Rae in 10 years?
TRF: I don’t like to say you will see me here and there in 10 years because you never can really plan your future. But I hope you will see me already done with culinary school and have cooked in some amazing restaurants. I also hope to have traveled some and have my own cooking show.
FP: Thank you so much for your time. Congrats again on winning the scholarship! We have no doubt you have a bright future ahead!
Curious what Tommi Rae plans to do with her $25,000 winnings? Read this Food Network interview to find out!