Two years ago, at age 13, Kiran Alwy of St. Louis Park came in second place on the Food Network's "Chopped Junior."
Now she's competing again, on the debut season of Bravo's "Top Chef Family Style," which starts streaming Thursday on Peacock. And she's teamed up with one of her culinary mentors: her father, Moid Alwy.
By age 7, Kiran began learning to cook with Moid and his mother, who taught Kiran to make traditional Pakistani dishes. They were Food Network fans and frequently held their own home cooking competitions, which Kiran always won.
Kiran finds cooking is a creative way for her to blend her favorite school subjects, math and science. On "Chopped Junior," where budding young chefs quickly create dishes that incorporate a basket of mystery ingredients, Kiran earned a reputation for her improvisational skills, speed and kindness. In one round, she finished early and assisted the other contestants.
In the end, Kiran's cake pop and caramel ice cream came up just short of winning.
Kiran learned that the judges are looking for a story, as much as the food. "It's about how it looks, and every step that went into making it, along with what the dish means to you."
Building on that experience, she's poised to contend for the new show's $50,000 grand prize. Especially with the help of her dad. The two are tennis partners and hope their teamwork on the court will help them collaborate in the kitchen.
Rachel Hutton • 612-673-4569