Mark Coblentz | Q & A

The 14-year-old son of Bonnie and Robbie Coblentz of Starkville shares his thoughts on cooking, culinary competitions and his future.

What are some of your earliest memories in the kitchen?

Some of my earliest memories of cooking in the kitchen were with my mom and my grandparents. Both of my grandmas are avid bakers, and my mom has always been the main cook in my family, until now.

When did you get interested in cooking?

I first got interested in cooking when I was about 6 or 7, and my mom made me go to a cooking class, and I loved how you could create something so put together, from just some “building blocks.”  When I was about 10, I started to watch cooking shows, and I decided to start trying to cook the things on them. My love for cooking really started there.

What are some of your favorite dishes to make?

My favorite dish to make is my homemade doughnuts, but I really enjoy fabricating and cooking any meat. I enjoy making homemade pasta and any dish that involves a lot of hands-on time.

Do you have any favorite cookbooks or websites where you get your recipes?

I started off getting my dishes from the cooking show “Good Eats,” but then I started to just experiment. After a few years, I started to just think up dishes to make and put my own spin on things. Now, I like to think to myself that I have a lot of culinary knowledge, and so I usually think about what I want to make, and if it is something new, look up some different ways  to make it. I then put my twist on the dish, and go from there.

In 2015, you competed on the Food Network’s “Chopped Junior” and earlier this year, you made it to the Top 10 on FOX’s “MasterChef Junior.” What did you learn about cooking, and about yourself, from those two experiences? 

From “Chopped Junior,”  I mostly learned a lot about time management. During the show, I didn’t time some of my things properly, like I had undercooked my pasta. I also lost track about how long my venison had been in the oven. On “MasterChef Junior,”  I was reminded about how to put yourself on the plate, not someone else. I attempted a dish I had never made before, and it almost sent me home. I tried to make a caramelized strawberry “caviar” with agar-agar, and the idea never panned through. I spent a lot of time on it, and it almost cost me.

Is there anything you don’t like to eat or won’t cook?

One of my least favorite things is tacos with overpowering taco seasoning that has way to much cumin and preservatives. But, I am starting to enjoy tacos with a homemade spice mix that is freshly made.

Do you plan to attend culinary school or major in some sort of food-related field in college?

I am not 100 percent sure on that. I would like to go to the Culinary Institute of America, but it is very pricey. Or, my other plan is to go of to Europe and just tour around, eat, and cook in some of the best kitchens in Europe. They both would be fun, and expensive, but I am keeping my options open for now.

If you could have one celebrity chef cook for you, who would that be – and why – and what would the meal be?

The celebrity chef that I would choose to cook a meal for me would definitely be Chef Gordon Ramsay. I would ask him to make me Beef Wellington, so I can say I ate his Beef Wellington that he prepared right in front of me. I would also do it so I could learn a little more  from the source on how to make the perfect Beef Wellington.

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