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Mount Washington teen wins first season of 'Top Chef Junior'

Mount Washington resident Owen Pereira, 14, competes in the finale of 'Top Chef Junior.' He won the cooking competition show, and with the title, a $50,000 prize.
Mount Washington resident Owen Pereira, 14, competes in the finale of 'Top Chef Junior.' He won the cooking competition show, and with the title, a $50,000 prize. (Dale Berman / Universal Kids)

Baltimore teen chef Owen Pereira won the first season of “Top Chef Junior” on Friday.

The spinoff of the popular Bravo cooking show “Top Chef” premiered in October on Universal Kids. With the title of “Top Chef Junior” comes a $50,000 cash prize (Pereira said it’s stashed away in a trust fund to access when he’s older).

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In the season finale, Pereira and runner-up Rahanna Bisseret Martinez cooked a three-course meal representing their past, present and future. Pereira clinched the prize with gastronomic plays on cream of turnip soup, a duo of pork, and braised short rib with chanterelles and truffle.

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“Going into it, I was really nervous and excited,” he said. “I just had so much adrenaline that it went completely away when I was cooking.”

Pereira said his culinary style has already changed since being on the show, and that he doesn’t know where he’ll be in the future as a chef.

“Every chef or artist just goes through creative changes in their life, and I guess my style just changed,” he said.

Pereira, an eighth grader at Baltimore Montessori Public Charter School, plans to work his way up the food chain and open a restaurant one day. He and fellow contestant Henry Wieser are working on opening a contemporary “new American” pop-up in Chicago.

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As for being the show’s inaugural winner, Pereira doesn’t yet know what to make of it.

“It still hasn’t completely hit me that I won,” he said.

The second season of “Top Chef Junior” will premiere this summer.

Read more about Pereira here.

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