Local Kid Wins Cooking Challenge

Imagine being 11 years old and winning a cooking challenge. That’s exactly what happened to Gabriel Bandera, a fifth-grade student at Mabel Padgett Elementary in Goodyear, AZ.

Gabriel first became interested in cooking a long time ago. He says, “The first thing I made was chips and guacamole. I became more interested in cooking.”

Gabriel says he watches the Food Network. He likes to cook because it is “very creative, fun and there are different cooking styles even when you use one ingredient. It can be cooked many ways,” says Gabriel.

The “Walk On” Kids Cooking Challenge was recommended by a friend of Gabriel’s mom. Gabriel’s own creative recipe was the “Purple Explosion.” Wanting to roast something, Gabriel used cabbage with chopped veggies. He shredded and roasted them and they turned purple, naming it the “Purple Explosion.”

Gabriel submitted his recipe to the “Walk On” Kids Cooking Challenge website and an executive chef for the Phoenix Sun’s made all five of the recipes submitted for the challenge. Gabriel won the taste test. The first 100 people in the Sun’s Stadium tasted and judged the recipes. 

The next step was voting online. Gabriel won first place online and the cooking challenge. His prize was a new bike. “I already have a new bike, so I will sell it and give the money to my community or (buy) new cooking gear and keep cooking,” he says.

Gabriel is also a magician and plays the piano. His dream with cooking is to one day “Beat Bobby Flay!”

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Karen Golden