Right from the beginning, Milo was one to watch.
From the very first quick-fire challenge of the very first episode of the very first season of Top Chef Jr. -- the kid-oriented spinoff of the Bravo hit Top Chef -- the 13-year-old St. Paulite has been wowing the judges.
He took home a win in that first challenge, for which he transformed his family's favorite meal into a restaurant-quality dish: an udon noodle salad with ginger char-grilled skirt steak and a roasted peach and jalapeño puree. Sure, he sliced his finger a little. It didn't hold him back one bit. And the judges loved the flavors.
Milo's been helping out his parents, Eric and Stephanie, in the kitchen for years, and by the time he was seven he was cooking up his own stuff. “I really started with basics … the very first thing I started doing was eggs,” Milo says.
Okay, that's not entirely true: “He actually started out making 'potions,'" Stephanie jumps in with a chuckle. "Which were really just disgusting little mixes of stuff we had in the kitchen.” But eggs were the first ingredient he really practiced with -- a good, base skill that's deceptively tricky to perfect, and one that helped him hone everything from timing to seasoning.
Milo's a creative kid -- he'll tell you as much in the "meet the chefs" clip above. (That's him at the 50-second mark.) He drums, he plays guitar, he draws. And that creativity is on display in the Top Chef Jr. kitchen, too, where he's been turning out dazzling, inventive dishes week after week. He's still in the running after eight episodes, and last week, he earned a W in all three challenges, including the big one. It was his fourth (!) win in a row.
To be clear, these are challenges for the young contestants; this isn't some dumbed-down version of Top Chef. Milo's been competing against 11 other hyper-talented young chefs from around the country. "They’re not messing around," he says. "The challenges are really difficult.” But they're also a bit more on the delightful side -- his favorite so far, for example, was the puppy challenge, for which the kids had to make dog treats for the judge's pups. "First of all, I won that challenge, but also the dogs were adorable," he laughs. "Just being ambushed by these bundles of joy."
So, where will you find this young chef dining here in the Twin Cities? Milo says he's a big fan of Hai Hai, the Southeast Asian venture from the Hola Arepa team that just opened in Northeast. He shouts out Tilia, too, where he works: “I’m a huge fan of their food.”
Stephanie says the experience has been predictably incredible for Milo and the whole family; she's loved watching him learn so much -- and so quickly, over the course of just a few weeks.
“It’s been so fun," she says. "It’s been shocking the way he’s been able to perform. We’ve always known that -- jeez -- this kid is something. To see other people recognize that is amazing.”
Catch Milo in action on Universal Kids, Fridays at 8/7 Central.