Joshua Altamura, Chopped Jr. Champion
04/26/2017 11:00AM ● Published by Kendra Kaiserman
Recipe for Success
By Kendra Kaiserman
Photo by Erin Claasen
“Chef, you’ve been chopped,” is one thing you wouldn’t want to hear on the Food Network show Chopped Junior. For 12-year-old Joshua “Joshy” Altamura, it was something he wouldn’t have to face. Joshy won “Chopped Junior: Make Me a Judge,” which aired March 22.
Last December, Joshy got to travel to New York to the Food Network studio for a week to compete on the show. “It was amazing. It was so much fun. I loved every minute of it,” Joshy says.
But getting there was a long road. “It was extensive,” says Joshy’s father, Fabiano Altamura. The first step was an application form, and from there the process included an eight- to 10-minute documentary, a FaceTime call for an hour and a half, two hour-long phone calls and another four-minute documentary. “It was really difficult,” Joshy says.
The show featured three rounds: appetizers, main dishes and desserts. “For the first round, I made a Mediterranean sausage and ricotta empanada pizzetta with caramelized dates and onions on top with an arugula salad and a chile-garlic sauce,” says Joshy. For the main dish, he made a rustic duck pot pie stew with a doughy crouton. And for the dessert round, “I made a French cinnamon apple strudel with a vanilla whipped cream and a caramel orange-cranberry sauce with a cookie crumble,” Joshy says. A grand meal fit for kings, but was served to three judges.
In the third round, Joshy had to critique his own dish, “which was fun but quite difficult because you had to say what you enjoyed about your dish without really knowing what it tasted like,” says Joshy. Through the difficulty, Joshy won and then got to appear on another episode where he “was actually judging two of the chefs who were judging him,” Fabiano explains.
“It was amazing. It was so much fun. I got to eat the best food I’ve ever had in my life for free,” says Joshy. “It was really fun to judge, but it was difficult having to chop. It was hard to decide because they’re all so great.”
From here, Joshy wants to “open a restaurant but also I was thinking of doing Master Chef next season,” says Joshy. “But it’s unlikely to win Master Chef. It’s a one-in-12 chance.”
“And that’s when you’re on the show,” Fabiano adds. Joshy has been “seriously cooking for four years,” says Fabiano, beginning when he was 8. He learned by “watching my family cook and eating food also, that got me to love it,” says Joshy. “The time that I realized I love food is when we went to Italy when I was 4 years old and I ate my first ava croquette potato and I just fell in love with it.”
Joshy’s favorite food to cook is steak and croquettes and his favorite restaurant is Bouchon, Thomas Keller’s restaurant in Napa. He would like to visit “the best restaurant in the world. It’s called Osteria Francescana and the head chef is the best chef in the world. I really want to go there,” Joshy says. The chef’s name is Massimo Bottura and the restaurant is in Modena, Italy.
Joshy is originally from Sheffield, England, and moved to Redding five years ago in August 2012. When the Bethel Christian School eighth-grader is not in the kitchen, you can catch him “playing soccer and hanging out with his friends,” says Joshy.
Joshy also works at Tantardini’s European Bakery-Deli and his mentors are Diego Tantardini, owner and chef of Tantardini’s and John Gabriel, head chef at Bethel.