A 13-year-old girl from New York made Food Network history this week when she became the first Orthodox Jew to win Chopped.
On Tuesday night’s episode of the reality cooking competition, Rachel Goldzal took home the $10,000 prize. She’s the first observant Jew to win — which, by extension, also makes the preteen the first Chopped winner to keep kosher.
The rules of the competition for the four middle school chefs were simple: create an appetizer, a main dish, and a dessert in three 30-minute rounds. The catch? Contestants were forced to include four random, pre-selected ingredients per course.
“Chopped was very accommodating on the kosher side of things,” Goldzal told The Vues.
Celebrity chef Geoffrey Zakarian was particularly taken by Goldzal’s appetizer, which consisted of a slider with an Israeli twist — hummus sauce. The young chef paired the burger with broccoli rabe and cabbage, and whipped up a garlic and herb steak with a cauliflower and potato hash for the main course. As for dessert, the 7th-grader concocted a candy, kiwi, and kombucha (trend alert!) compote topped with a cookie-oat crumble.
So, how does a 13-year-old become a talented chef? By watching her mom and grandmother in the kitchen.
“They would cook every Erev Shabbat and Yom Tov,” Goldzal said. She also enrolled in the culinary program at her summer camp, Camp Nesher in Pennsylvania.
Goldzal’s family gathered at her home in Staten Island this week to watch the episode. In an adorable Facebook video, the Goldzals sing “We are the Champions” when the young chef was crowned Chopped champion.
One of Goldzal’s biggest fans is her father. “My dad loves when I cook for him!” she said. “He has to taste all my fishes and if I don’t save him any he gets really mad LOL!”
When she grows up, Goldzal says she wants to be a “private chef in a kosher home.”
“As an Orthodox Jew, between Sabbath and the holidays, I’m cooking all the time,” Goldzal said.
With September being jam-packed with Jewish holidays, we predict Goldzal will be spending a lot of time in the kitchen this month.
Header image via Tzvi Simcha Cohen