What do you want to be when you grow up? Everything. I like to learn.
What is your favorite food? Mac and cheese and noodles with white sauce. I also like apples because they start with my name.
Name a weird talent: I can do a cartwheel and a backwards somersault.
Who inspires you and why? Jesus, because I love him.
Alex Alexiades is an award-winning chef who spends a lot of time in the kitchen but can still sprinkle pop culture references into his conversation.
Actually, he might be inclined to combine the two—he wanted to call his latest creation Ratatouille—but his dad keeps him in check.
"He said it has rat in it and people might think there’s a rat (in the hamburger)," says 6-year-old Alex, of Oswego.
What’s in the hamburger Alex and his dad, George, are creating for this year’s Red Robin Build a Burger contest is top secret, but it doesn’t include rodents. The pair is keeping the ingredients under wraps because they think it’s going to top last year’s entry, which won second place in the semi-finals and sent them to Seattle to cook before the judges.
"All the other kids had the chefs at the restaurant make their burgers, but he didn’t let them," George says. "He wanted to cook himself, so he kept running in and out of the kitchen."
Alex is an old pro in the kitchen. Both his parents enjoy cooking and he began cooking with them when he was 3. He started with breakfast foods—"I made good Mickey Mouse pancakes"—and worked himself up to the Caribbean Pirate burger that almost won last year’s Red Robin contest.
"Most people are afraid to teach their kids to cook, but if you teach them then they’re not going to be afraid and if they learn the right way they won’t make mistakes," George says.
And if they’re lucky, they may even end up enjoying their 15 minutes of fame at the tender age of 5.
"I liked all the pictures and being in the newspaper," Alex admits with a grin.
"Yeah, he became like a rock star," says George.
This year’s contest is open to kids 6-12 (parents are encouraged to work on the entry with their child) who submit an original burger recipe by Sept. 16. The grand prize winner will have their burger served in Red Robin restaurants in 2008 and will win a family vacation package. Fifty of the kids’ recipes will be included in a cookbook that will be sold to benefit the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children.
Entry forms are available at all Red Robin restaurants or at www.redrobin.com.
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