HASBROUCK HEIGHTS, NJ -- Toasted English muffins. Canadian bacon, Poached eggs, Hollandaise sauce. All the components of Eggs Benedict, which can be a challenging recipe, even for an experienced chef. But for one 13-year old, it's a typical Saturday morning breakfast with the family.
That's the recipe Tyler Cappadona made at his first round tryout to be on Master Chef Junior three years ago when he was just 10 years old.
On Friday, he got the callback for an official audition this Saturday morning in New York City. The audition will include an interview and cooking in front of the camera.
According to his parents, Tyler has been cooking since he's been five, with the assistance of a parent.
"This is our Saturday morning, this is what he does" said his father, Mike Cappadona. "He enjoys this, it's fun for him."
"Every Sunday Mike would make them pancakes," said Leslie, Tyler's mother. "But he (Mike) lost his job to him (Tyler.) And, hey, this beats pancakes."
The seventh grader at Hasbrouck Heights Middle School has been influenced by both celebrity chefs and family, as he likes Gordon Ramsey and Leah Cohen, former "Top Chef" contestant and owner of Piggyback Bar in Jersey City, and "of course, there's my mother and grandmother," he added.
What are some of the other dishes he'd cooked up for his family?
Pear pie with pie crust made from scratch.. Brisket slider burgers with cheddar cheese. Homemade pizza in the outdoor pizza oven. Tomahawk steaks. Ribs with brown sugar and paprika dry rub.
According to his mother, when his sister Lauren is home from college, "she gets spoiled (by Tyler), when he asks 'What can I make for you?'"
He and his sister have collaborated on baking, especially at Christmas. The family's kitchen is turned into a cookie baking operation.
"I like baking a cake or cupcakes, just as much as I like cooking," said Tyler.
"What I find most rewarding about it (cooking), is when you make a meal, and someone eats it, and they say 'It's so good!'," said Tyler. "It's like I did something good. I made someone happy."
His mother Leslie pointed out that, after one time, "he does all his recipes from memory." And his willingness to learn and experiment, has kept the Cappadona refrigerator and pantry stocked.
"He'll think of some random things that he wants to make, and he has me running to ShopRite," said Leslie.
Some of the unique tools he's asked for include a spaghetti maker, juice extractor and Ninja blender.
His favorite dishes to cook? Eggs Benedict and Chicken Cordon Bleu.
His favorite foods to eat: "Anything that involves steak or meat."
Aside from his passion for cooking, the honor roll student is involved in junior football, rec wrestling, the school play, community theatre, and summer dive team. How does he plan to prepare for his audition as he returns to school from winter break?
"I'll practice cooking during the week, and balance school and tests," he said.
He even helps a next door neighbor. Margaret Cambridge, in the kitchen, practicing his skills as her sous chef.
What other culinary skills does this junior chef want to master?
"I want to learn different styles of cooking, cuisines from other countries," he said.
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