Kickin’ in the Kids Cook-off | VailDaily.com

Kickin’ in the Kids Cook-off

When we last visited with Nicholas Hornbostel, he was having lunch in the White House with First Lady Michelle Obama.

He had a great time.

Besides starting school this week – fifth grade, Edwards Elementary – he's elbow-to-elbow in the kitchen with Food Network icon Rachel Ray. It's all part of Rachel Ray's Kids Cook-Off on the Food Network. The first episode airs Monday.

"I had to do all these interviews over about a two-month process. There were phone interviews, Skype interviews. It was fun," he said.

“Everyone was super, super, super nice there. All the producers and camera people, all the kids. Most important, Rachael Ray was super nice.’Nicholas Hornbostel“Rachael Ray’s Kids Cook-Off” participant

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That part about having fun, that's the part Nicholas keeps coming back to.

Lots of people wanted to speak with him, which works out well because Nicholas has lots of great stuff to say.

"I guess they wanted to make sure I could cook and that I was funny," Nicholas said.

Yes on both.

Fun above all

The Food Network found him because he went to the White House, after winning a healthy recipes contest sponsored by First Lady Michelle Obama. There was no shortage of video for the foodies to see.

Like his trip to the White House, Nicholas thoroughly enjoyed the Food Network studios in New York City – like he enjoys pretty much everything he does.

"Everyone was super, Super, SUPER nice there. All the producers and camera people, all the kids. Most important Rachel Ray was super nice," Nicholas said.

Every day was fun, but the last day was the best.

"It was really, really fun the last day, after the finale. Rachel planned a party. Wine, champagne for the adults, and soda for the kids," he exclaimed. "We got to raid the pantry."

If you think that the Food Network pantry has everything, you're correct … at least it used to.

The kids devoured ice cream, lady fingers, every imaginable chocolate, everything you could imagine.

"I went straight for the vanilla beans. I got some goat cheese because my mom likes it," Nicholas said.

Only the truffles were off limits.

"Rachel wanted those," he said.

Latin cuisine, and everything else

The apple didn't fall far from the tree. His dad was born in Brazil and is an enthusiastic cook. His mom cooks lots of Latin food, and lots of other cuisine. Nicholas said he likes cooking Latin, taking simple dishes and adding a twist to them.

For the Kids Cook-off, they made all kinds of different dishes for each episode's challenge.

If you win a short challenge you have immunity, and automatically move on to the next round.

He can't tell us what he cooked on the show, but he can tell you he had a great time doing it.

It was work, but only the way something is work when you're doing what you love. He and his mom took one Saturday off and rode the subway to Chinatown, to a market where you could choose your own fish and eels from a tank.

"I think I really learned that it doesn't matter if I got eliminated or if I won. It was the experience. It was so much fun," Nicholas said.

Staff Writer Randy Wyrick can be reached at 970-748-2935 or rwyrick@vaildaily.com.

Where to watch

What: Vail Valley youth Nicholas Hornbostel competing in Rachel Ray’s Kids Cook-off

Where: Food Network. Consult your local television listings

When: 8 p.m. Monday.

Information: Nicholas is one of eight kids from around the country competing. The winner gets a $20,000 culinary scholarship and a web series. Go to FoodNetwork.com/KidsCookOff.