From Athol to Flavortown
Sarah Kitchings, a 19 year-old from Athol, competed on "Guys Grocery games" earlier this year with the episode airing on Wednesday at 9 p.m. ET/PT on Food Network. HANNAH NEFF/Press
| August 30, 2021 1:20 AM
Cooking has always been a part of Sarah Kitchings' life.
A fan of the “Guy’s Grocery Games” TV cooking show, the 19-year-old from Athol said she was surprised to get a call asking her to be a competitor.
“I just thought it would be a fun opportunity to even just apply for,” Kitchings said. “So I just kind of went with it.”
David Adlard, Kitchings’ former culinary teacher and an experienced cooking-show competitor, gave out Kitchings' name when he saw a casting call for “Guy's Grocery Games” a couple years ago.
“From day one, she's just got such a remarkable talent, and over the next couple of years she just kept getting better and better,” Adlard said. “For someone her age, as young as she is, to have such a kind of generational talent is pretty special.”
Filmed earlier this year, Kitchings’ episode, “Snack Attack,” airs at 9 p.m. PDT Wednesday on Food Network, so Kitchings was only allowed to share parts of her story Sunday and still can’t talk about the details.
“It was definitely hard keeping it a secret for so long,” Kitchings said. “I was allowed to say that I would be on a cooking competition TV show, but I wasn't allowed to say what show.”
In each episode of “Guys Grocery Games,” four chefs compete in a three-round elimination contest using ingredients they have to collect within 30 minutes in the show supermarket, “Flavortown Market.” But that’s before Guy Fieri, the executive director and host, adds in special challenges.
Up to $20,000 in a shopping spree bonus challenge can be awarded to the final contestant.
“It was definitely very nerve-wracking,” Kitchings said. “It's definitely a very fast-paced environment.”
Kitchings competed with three other teen chefs, cooking up each challenge before their time ran out.
“I was definitely nervous, but I just wanted to look at it as more of an opportunity to go and meet other chefs my age,” Kitchings said.
Kitchings said she’s still in contact and has remained friends with her competitors.
“It was really cool to meet (Guy),” she said. “He's really nice in person, and just overall a great person.”
Growing up, Kitchings said she felt at home in the kitchen.
“Cooking just kind of was always a part of my life,” she said. “I would be in the kitchen with my grandfather and my mom ever since I was like 4, making bread and German schnitzels, all sorts of things.”
Currently, Kitchings works at Terraza Waterfront Cafe in Riverstone, where she is transitioning to a pastry chef.
“Sarah is a very intelligent, methodical cook,” said Bjorn Thompson, executive chef. “She has a serious knack for pastries.”
Thompson said he enjoys having Kitchings in the kitchen and working together to create new dessert lines.
“We had her leave town for a little while and it was definitely noted in the quality of products that she led the role on,” Thompson said.
Outside of her work, Kitchings is studying at NIC in her final year for a general associates degree and a certificate in business entrepreneurship.
She said she’s undecided on what she wants to pursue, but culinary arts will always have a special place.
“I know for sure that cooking and baking will always be in my life,” Kitchings said. “Whether it's just like hosting dinner parties at my house for my friends or making a restaurant.”