WEST WINDSOR: Young chef’s ‘hobby’ gets him a prime spot on Food Network’s ‘Chopped Junior’ reality show


Nicky Lennox of West Windsor is due to appear Tuesday night

By Philip Sean Curran, Staff Writer
Nicky Lennox of West Windsor thinks his meatloaf is “a lot better” than his mom’s, a boast from a 12-year-old whose prowess in the kitchen will get national exposure this week.
He is due to appear Tuesday night, Sept. 20, on the Food Network’s “Chopped Junior,” a reality show that involves a cooking competition for kids.
“I’m really excited for this,” he said in a phone interview Thursday.
One of thousands of youngsters vying to get on the show, he handled the application by himself.
“He’s such an adventurous kid that it’s just what Nicky does,” said his mother, Eileen O’Donnell-Lennox.
Nicky said he finds cooking fun and relaxing, something he picked up being with his maternal grandmother, Carole O’Donnell. One time, he recalled, his cousin asked him if he wanted to go onto a cooking show, an idea that intrigued him. He said he had applied for MasterChef Junior, another TV show involving a competition, but never got called back.
But at school — he is a seventh-grader at Princeton Friends School — he saw a poster for “Chopped” on the bulletin board and applied.
“A few days later, they called me back. And then I went on from there, with interviews and stuff,” he said.
Nicky, who also play golf at Jasna Polana, said the former sous chef at the club, Seth Wheeler, worked with him regularly right up to the filming of the show about a year ago. He is not allowed to disclose the meal that he had cooked on “Chopped Junior” or how far he went in the competition.
Nicky cooks weekly at home, and said meatloaf is his favorite dish to prepare. He puts the meat in a cupcake pan, so they’re a little bigger than a meatball, and he adds ketchup in the middle.
“I put a lot of weird stuff that you really wouldn’t think would go good with meatloaf,” he said. “So what I do, if I have enough time, is I make mashed potatoes and I ice the meatloaf with mashed potatoes.”
When he isn’t cooking, he can be found playing golf, taking flying lessons to get his pilot’s license and being involved in the Boy Scouts.
“I think that Nicky has an interest in everything. I think he’s a little Renaissance man,” Ms. O’Donnell-Lennox said. “He’s very interested in people, and I think that makes him interesting himself.”
Cooking, though, is not in his career plans.
“I wouldn’t want to continue cooking as a job,” he said of possibly making a living as a chef , “but just I want it (to) be a hobby.”