Twelve-year-old Zikei Brooks is a nice, well spoken boy from LaGrange who doesn’t like sports and says he used to just keep to himself. However, a once-in-a-lifetime experience completely changed Zikei’s world – becoming a second place finalist on Chopped Junior.
Zikei’s mom says she always knew he had a special talent in the kitchen.
“If I’m not feeling good, he’s already in the kitchen and dinner is ready when I get home from work,” she says. “He’ll call me up with some chicken and say ‘Do you want this baked or fried?'”
Zikei says even though he didn’t win the competition, the experience participating and traveling to New York was “amazing.”
“Seeing the different cultures and trying all this different food up there, overall it was just so amazing and I was so happy,” he says.
Zikei says he never thought he would get to be on a nationally televised cooking competition… because he never applied.
“They actually called me,” he says.
Zikei won first place in the Future Chefs 2014 competition between different schools around the region. When Chopped Junior producers called the competition’s director and asked for a recommendation, the director immediately knew who to suggest – Zikei Brooks.
News 3 decided to put Zikei’s skills to the test. Just like Chopped Junior, we brought out a surprise bag of some unusual ingredients – white cheddar cheese puffs, pineapple, and old Halloween candy – and asked Zikei what he would do to make them into an extraordinary dish.
Zikei did not miss a beat and immediately went for the chocolate.
“These have caramel in them, so I would go for all the chocolate I see, right, and I’d melt that down into a caramel sauce to mix with the puffs.”
He tops it off with a baked pineapple drizzled in chocolate – yummy!
Zikei’s episode of Chopped Junior aired on Election Day and he and his mom got to see it with more than 150 people who turned out for their viewing party.