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).
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.
“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.
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.