Edwards siblings both finalists in Uncle Ben’s cooking contest | VailDaily.com

Edwards siblings both finalists in Uncle Ben’s cooking contest

Caramie Schnell
Chloe and Nicholas Hornbostel were both chosen as finalists in the Ben’s Beginners Cooking Contest put on by Uncle Ben’s rice. They live in Edwards.
Special to the Daily |

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To vote in the Ben’s Beginner Cooking Contest, get additional information or read kid-friendly cooking tips and recipes, visit http://www.bensbeginnerscontest.com/brand/ . Voting ends Nov. 26.

EDWARDS — There are two burgeoning television chefs living in Edwards: Nicholas Hornbostel, age 9, and his sister, Chloe, 10. The siblings were chosen as two of the top 25 finalists in the Ben’s Beginners Cooking Contest put on by Uncle Ben’s rice. And now they’re competing against each other and the rest of the finalists, asking for people to vote for their video recipes online at www.bensbeginnerscontest.com . Voting ends Nov. 26.

This year, five grand prize winners will be selected to each win $15,000 cash and a $30,000 cafeteria makeover for their child’s school. The Hornbostel kids go to Edwards Elementary School: Nicholas is in the fourth grade and Chloe is a fifth grader. In addition to the prizes, each grand prize winner will receive a hometown celebration at their school where they will be joined by New York-based celebrity chef Marcus Samuelsson.

Nicholas made “Awesome Mountain Mushroom Rice” for the competition, while Chloe made “River Rice and Bean Burritos.” Their mom, Monika, helped film and edited the videos while the kids were at school, Nicholas said.

It’s the second year the kid’s have entered the contest, Nicholas said.

“My dad brought the box of Uncle Ben’s home and it had the contest on the back. We didn’t get that far last year, so we decided to enter again this year.”


Nicholas loves to mushroom hunt with his family, foraging for hawkwing and hedgehog fungi on Shrine Mountain, which is how he came up with the idea for a mushroom and rice recipe. The family moved from Brazil two years ago and a traditional Brazilian rice dish made called arroz piemontese also inspired the recipe, he said.

Chloe loves to eat burritos, which is why she decided to make a rice and bean burrito, topped with cilantro and tomatoes. The twist is that Chloe’s recipe is super easy, and as such makes for a great camping-friendly recipe. The video shows her packing her supplies into a backpack and putting the meal together next to the Eagle River using Uncle Ben’s Ready Rice in a pouch.

“With the Ready Rice, all you need to do is heat it up, so we thought it was good for camping, so we decided to make a camping theme one and go to the river,” Chloe said.

The kids watched other cooking videos by children “for inspiration” and to help prepare, Nicholas said.

“We thought about what we could add to it to make it engaging and good. So we wrote down a list of things, then we made a script and then we read one paragraph from the script at a time, then kept doing a paragraph ‘til it ended,” Nicholas said.

Nicholas wants to be a chef when he grows up and hopes to own his own restaurant some day, as well as be a celebrity chef of sorts. As for what kind of restaurant he’d like to own, he already has it mapped out.

“It would be a French restaurant and it would serve lots of interesting foods because I’m into eating interesting things,” he said. “It would have sweetbreads and duck and goose on the menu and all sorts of other things.”


This isn’t Nicholas’ first time competing in a cooking contest. And it’s not the first time he’s been successful cooking rice.

In 2012, Hornbostel won a healthy cooking contest — the Epicurious Healthy Lunchtime Challenge — for his sushi salad recipe. He was the sole Colorado winner and as a result, was invited to the White House for a state dinner where he got to meet Michelle Obama.

“(Michelle) said she believed me that I could do something similar in my county and do something healthy,” Hornbostel said for a previous Vail Daily story, which is why in 2013 he helped spearhead the Eagle County Healthy Lunchtime Challenge, which local chef Kelly Liken and Hornbostel helped judge.

Now Nicholas is back on the contestant side of a contest, along with his sister. When asked about who he wants to win, he was honest.

“I want to win,” he said. “But one thing is, it’s not how well you cook, it’s how good your video is. I think I’m a better cook than her, but I don’t know if I have a better video than her.”

As for who is a better cook, Chloe isn’t so sure, though she admits she likes to bake cookies and cakes with her friends more than cook. She did bring up the time the kids put on their own version of Chopped for their parents, using ingredients their mom surprised them with.

“We did one at home, a mini (Chopped). My mom gave me different ingredients: caramel and peach, shrimp and chips. My parents helped me with the grill and I made shrimp skewers with peach salsa, sprinkled with crushed chips. I don’t know what my brother made, but my parents judged it and I won the competition.”

But really the kids have been very supportive of each other. Monika, their mom, said as a family they’ve been focused on what Edwards Elementary School would gain if the kids won.

“We feel so blessed to have this school that’s bilingual that’s in the neighborhood,” she said. “To have a public school of that level, we feel so grateful. They’ve captured that spirit: It’s about the school. If either of them win, it’s fabulous. Even compared to private schools in Brazil, it’s a much better school. The level of teaching and enthusiasm is amazing.”

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