Meet the Young Chefs (and Grown-Ups) Competing on the First Season of 'Top Chef Family Style'
Up-and-coming culinary superstars will try to out-cook the competition with the help of a family member in this new spin on Top Chef.
Every season of Top Chef ends with the same thrilling result: One creative and quick-thinking chef besting their competition and walking away with the title. But if you've ever wondered how chefs would fare in the Top Chef Kitchen with a little help along the way, the newest iteration of the series, Top Chef Family Style, will give you a taste of just that.
Premiering on the Peacock streaming service this September, Top Chef Family Style will see young, up-and-coming culinary superstars (read: kids of varying ages) pair up with a member of their family. And while there have been both Masters and Junior editions of Top Chef, because of the unique duos aspect, this format will feature both the youngest and oldest competitors in the Top Chef history.
Host Meghan Trainor and co-host/head judge Marcus Samuelsson will put 13 teams of two through the paces in the typical Quickfire and Elimination challenges for a shot at the title and a $50,000 prize. Of course, guest judges will pop up to critique the cheftesants' efforts including Padma Lakshmi, Tom Colicchio, Richard Blais, Melissa King, Jojo Siwa, Jesse Tyler Ferguson, Elizabeth Berkley, and wrestler The Miz.
Here's a look at everyone competing on the first season of Top Chef Family Style, with profiles provided by the show:
Jack Cruickshank and Bobbie Lopez (Mom)
The force is strong with this one; a true Star Wars fan, Jack has always been a Jedi in the kitchen. He started preparing food around the age of five, but it wasn't until he was seven that he could start to handle knives and manage the oven and stove. Early on, Jack was self-taught with the help of his grandparents who cooked a lot. However, Jack continues to hone his skills by watching professional chefs on YouTube or by trying out a new recipe. Jack is non-stop in the kitchen and he experiments with international cuisines like Mediterranean and Italia — he also just happens to be a patented inventor! He chose his mom to be his partner because she has been by his side since the beginning of his culinary endeavors. Bobbie full-heartedly admits that her son is a far better cook than she could ever be.
Kaj Friis-Hecht and Liz Thorpe (Aunt)
New Orleans, LA
Growing up in a family that dedicated their lives to food, Kaj was destined to become the next best thing in the culinary world. His father is a restaurateur and Kaj spent his childhood watching the back of house staff create amazing meals. Chef Harveen Khera, a dining room manager from his father's restaurant, mentored Kaj and channeled his natural talent into professional-level cooking skills. Since then, he began working with Harveen once a week at a local restaurant and excelled at expediting and food prep before becoming a line chef. Recently, the Mayor of New Orleans reached out and asked him to cook for her! Kaj was also the 2017 winner of Chopped Jr. Kaj's aunt, Liz Thorpe, is a leading cheese expert in the country and her knowledge has led to a successful consulting firm and guest spots on daytime talk shows. Self-assured and confident, she teamed up with Kaj because she knows winning is their only outcome.
Khalil Blue and Willie Blue (Dad)
Khalil is equal parts outgoing and unwavering with an approach to cooking rooted in respect for the art form. He fell in love with cooking when he was eight and has always known that he would dedicate his life to food! As a curious thinker, Khalil tries to learn the traditions and history of food to influence his cooking techniques. He is entirely self-taught with help from YouTube, cookbooks, and a lot of practice. Khalil's dad Willie inherited his southern cooking knowledge and recipes from the older generations of his tight-knit family. He excels at Texas BBQ and has honed his seasoning and smoking skills. His traditional cooking style will pair excellently with Khalil's creative eye and advanced techniques.
Milan Bhayana and Chandrani Ghosh (Mom)
Chevy Chase, MD
Milan loves reading and excels in his social studies class, but he is not your average 15-year old. He and his big sister have a #foodtiktok account with over seven million likes. He also is the youngest semi-pro player of Magic: The Gathering, a popular collectible card game. He's traveled the world playing Magic: The Gathering, which has allowed him to eat some of the world's finest cuisines. Nowadays, he spends his time cooking gourmet dishes for his 300,000 TikTok followers. Milan's mom, Chandrani grew up in India and didn't learn to cook until she was in her 20s living in the United States. She loves cooking with a lot of spice and gravitates towards Indian and Italian cuisines. Chandrani is an inspiring novelist and in her latest work the main character travels the world and eats the most fantastic foods, a story inspired by her own life.
Ocean Kanekoa and Jaydene Kanekoa (Sister)
Ocean has a true passion for cooking. His love and interest in the culinary industry are credited to his family, including a long line of chefs and cooks. Naturally, with a family constantly in the kitchen, he was exposed to cooking at a very young age. In 2018, Ocean was a finalist for the Hawaii Food & Wine Festival Keiki in the Kitchen competition (where he met Top Chef Jr. Milo Fleming!), and in 2019 he was named Keiki in the Kitchen champion. He has also participated in and won other local cooking competitions. Ocean's sister, Jaydene is the group sales executive for the same hotel that her father is Executive Chef, so she naturally promotes her Dad's restaurant. Cooking is essential to Jaydene because it is more than the final result; it is the process and the experience.
Taylor Ellison and Elizabeth Frame Ellison (Mom)
San Francisco, CA
Taylor's love of cooking grew from a desire to satisfy his palate's curiosity and creativity in his brain. He gained experience cooking from an entrepreneurial and creative lens. Taylor spent time weekly working with his mom as she launched the nonprofit kitchen incubator Kitchen 66 and tasted all of the culinary delights from startup food entrepreneurs along the way. Taylor has taken cooking classes both domestically and internationally, including in France and Italy. Being the support foundation for his culinary entrepreneurs, it is no surprise that Elizabeth, Taylor's mom, would make the perfect partner for her son. She is so thrilled to have this opportunity to create a memory that she and her son will cherish forever.
Ainsley Crouse and Hayley Crouse (Mom)
Ainsley and her mom have been cooking in the kitchen together since she was three years old. She learned the basics of cooking from her mom and YouTube videos but was also lucky enough to get a one-on-one cooking lesson with Martha Stewart herself! These days, Ainsley cooks five days a week for the whole family and loves to make her specialty, fish tacos. Her dream is to open a food truck called Ace's Place, where she'd serve up a fresh fusion of California and Mexican cuisine. Ainsley's mom Hayley loves cooking with fresh salsas during the summer and her family loves her Asian inspired dishes in particular.
Anika Kumar and Anupama Kumar (Mom)
Palo Alto, CA
Anika started cooking at a very early stage. She was only four years old when she went to a Christmas sweet treats week-long camp organized by the city. She loved her experience and has not looked back since. Anika has learned many of her skills from attending various cooking summer camps, including several Sur La Table classes. From second to fifth grade, she was selected from her school to attend district finals of a Sodexo Cooking Competition and even won the Best Cooking Skills award in fifth grade. Anika also competed on Season 8 of MasterChef Junior. Anika's mom, Anupama grew up in India watching Sanjeev Kapur, a local Indian celebrity chef. When she came to the states, she became a fan of Jacques Pepin and Emeril Lagasse. Anupama cooks mainly Indian food but also dabbles in Asian and Mexican cuisine. She has found a lot of her exposure to different cuisines has been through Anika.
Brooke Nathanson and Carol Weiss (Grandma)
Brooke is a spunky and driven 13-year old. She may be young, but she is already an entrepreneur with her own cake business. Brooke started by making cakes for friends and family but received an outpouring of requests from new customers once word got out about how amazing her cakes were. She started cooking at five years old with her grandma, Carol, who has taught her most of her culinary knowledge. Brooke has also taken cooking classes at Sur La Table, Dana's Bakery, and also over Zoom with Martha Stewart. Carol is a retired travel consultant but still a jet setter who has experienced all types of cuisine. She loves cooking with Brooke because she is one of the best chefs Carol knows.
Delilah Flores and Daniel Flores (Uncle)
Anaheim Hills, CA
Delilah has had an interest in cooking since she was eight years old. She gets her ideas from family recipes, videos online and also enjoys experimenting on her own. Delilah loves to cook Mexican cuisine and she enjoys exploring dishes that utilize unconventional ingredients. Serving as the one who started it all for Delilah, her Uncle Danny has been Delilah's partner in the kitchen since day one. His favorite food memory with her is the first thing they made together, a decadent carrot cake. Daniel currently works as a prep cook for a college in Claremont. When these two are in the kitchen, they bring out nothing but the best in each other, including and not limited to laughs, creativity, and of course, teamwork.
Eva Kopelman and Jenn Kopelman (Mom)
Long Islang, NY
Eva expressed an early interest in cooking and spent most of her childhood assisting her mom, Jenn in the kitchen. When she was nine years old, her dad suffered a stroke and Eva started cooking more often to help feed the family while her mom focused on caring for him. The kitchen became Eva's safe space and thanks to reading advanced recipes and watching many cooking shows, she quickly became a confident, self-taught chef with a significant and ever-growing social media following. Jenn has an affinity for heart Italian cooking but thanks to Eva's adventurousness in the kitchen, she has developed a sophisticated palate and is unafraid of unique flavor pairings.
Kennedy Torres and Rosie Torres (Mom)
Hailing from Alaska, Kennedy knows a thing or two about fishing and moose hunting! She started cooking when she was around six years old and spends most of her time watching cooking shows and making up recipes. Kennedy also competed and won season six of Chopped Jr. A die-hard fan of Ree Drummond, Kennedy considers her a culinary hero because their cooking styles are alike. Being one of five kids, cooking in the Torres household needs to be ample and, as a result, usually family-style. Kennedy's mom Rosie's kitchen is always filled with lots of food and working with speed is a must! She loves Gordon Ramsay and appreciates his bluntness and considers herself to be a little bit of the same, sans the cursing! With the four "Fs" in her motto, Faith, Family, Food, and Football, Rosie is confident she and Kennedy will represent Alaska to the finish line!
Kiran Alwy and Moid Alwy (Dad)
St. Louis Park, MN
Kiran has an assertive and competitive spirit to match her eclectic and spicy cooking! When she was seven, Kiran started cooking with her dad and grandmother and hosts cooking challenges with them to this day. She is completely self-taught, and her upbringing inspired her love of global cuisine. Cooking is a creative outlet for her to blend her love of math and science – her favorite school subjects. Kiran also put her skills to the test and competed on Chopped Jr. in 2019. Kiran's dad, Moid is a foodie who appreciates high-end dining and frequents the most popular restaurants in his area. Moid and Kiran are constant tennis partners and their seasoned teamwork will keep them one step ahead of the competition.
Top Chef Family Style premieres Thursday, September 9 exclusively on Peacock. Learn more at peacocktv.com.