Bukzin buries the competition in a local food face-off

A display of the competitions events from the food blog, CTBites.

A display of the competition’s events from the food blog, CTBites.

At 6:00p.m. on Wednesday, Oct. 16th, most Staples students were probably doing their homework, eating dinner, or getting home from an extracurricular activity.

Not Hannah Bukzin ’16.

Bukzin was busy participating in Marcia Selden’s Ultimate Dinner Party Contest, a  cooking competition that she won against two adults twice her age. The contest, hosted by catering company Marcia Selden, took place at the company’s commissary and was filmed by News 12. It was modeled off of the popular Food Network reality competition, “Chopped,” in which contestants are given mandatory surprise ingredients that they must include in their dishes.

In this case, Bukzin and other competitors had to include the ingredients of Pop Rocks, Ritz crackers and chickpeas. Bukzin charmed the judges’ palettes and won the competition with her entree of pan-seared salmon steaks with Ritz cracker and Pop Rocks crust, a chickpea and mixed vegetable medley, toasted pita triangle, and an arugula salad with lemon vinaigrette. As champion, she will have a $200 Marcia Selden Gourmet to Go meal  for six delivered to her home.

Most would be intimidated by older, more experienced competitors, but Bukzin was not.

“I was a little nervous because I was up against two adults more that twice my age, but I was also really excited because I absolutely love to compete,” she said.

Bukzin first learned about the competition on the food blog CT Bites and seized the opportunity to participate once she found out it was open to all ages. A regular in the kitchen since the age of seven, Bukzin first began dabbling in cooking when she started watching the Food Network.

Bukzin is clearly at home in the kitchen and truly feels comfortable when cooking.

“I love being creative in the kitchen and being able to express myself….[it] brings a sense of calmness over me and allows me to just let loose and not worry about anything else that is going on in my life,” she said.

When she isn’t busy cooking up her next culinary confection, Bukzin is spending time updating her blog, where she posts new recipes and alters foods, such as canned tomato sauce, to taste better.

Participating in and winning the competition was a rare occasion for such a young chef of only 13, and Bukzin knows it.

“It is really nice to be recognized at such a young age and I just am really grateful that I got this opportunity,” she said.