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Tuckahoe Preteen Takes Centerstage As Star On Food Network's Chopped Junior

Tuckahoe's own Caryn Cummings (second from right) was a finalist on Chopped Junior.
Tuckahoe's own Caryn Cummings (second from right) was a finalist on Chopped Junior. Photo Credit: Food Network
A presentation from the Tuckahoe Board of Trustees to Caryn Cummings, Chopped Junior finalist.
A presentation from the Tuckahoe Board of Trustees to Caryn Cummings, Chopped Junior finalist. Video Credit: TuckahoeAccess
Caryn Cummings addressing the Tuckahoe Board of Trustees before being issued a proclamation for starring on the Food Network.
Caryn Cummings addressing the Tuckahoe Board of Trustees before being issued a proclamation for starring on the Food Network. Photo Credit: Zak Failla

TUCKAHOE, N.Y. - Tuckahoe’s newest celebrity took center stage at the latest Village Board of Trustees meeting, as local officials celebrated Caryn Cummings, who reached the finals of Food Network’s Chopped Junior.

At Tuesday’s meeting, Tuckahoe Mayor Steve Ecklond offered the village’s congratulations and issued a proclamation to Cummings, a fifth-grader at William E. Cottle Elementary School who came to the United States from Trinidad and Tobago three years ago.

Cummings got her start cooking at a young age, when she started serving as her mother’s sous chef when she was just 4-years-old, chopping vegetables and helping out around the kitchen.

The 10-year-old said that she applied to the competition online before having to trek to Manhattan for follow-up meetings and interviews. She said she “may try again next year.”

Now in its second season, Chopped Junior showcases the talents of children that are challenged to make unique meals from mystery ingredient boxes over three rounds - appetizer, entree and dessert - within a limited time frame. The winner claims a $10,000 prize.

In the first round, Cummings turned her mystery box (paneer cheese, baby beets, masala chickpeas and camel hot dogs) into an appetizer of pan-fried camel hotdogs with paneer cheese and seasoned beet chips. Her spiced pan-seared filet mignon with watercress salad entree easily vaulted her into the final dessert round against Haley Mattes from Indiana.

With a mystery box of edible cookie dough, pomegranates, blackberries and mint ice cream cones, Cummings crafted a wafer cookie with blackberry and pomegranate coulis using milk and heavy cream. Her opposition made cookie dough vanilla bean ice cream and chocolate cake to earn the top prize.

“The entire village and I are so proud of you,” he said. “Tuckahoe is a tiny little community in the broad scheme of the entire country, so I imagine when you said you’re from Tuckahoe, they started questioning what that is and where that is.

“You’re a star. You’ve put us on the map, so thank you for that.”

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