By Keith Marder
Upper West Side native, Nikki Bidun, a fifth grader at P.S. 9, will make her television debut on Food Network, Wednesday, March 8 at 8 p.m. as part of Chopped Junior: Make Me A Judge tournament. She will compete for a chance to become a judge in an upcoming episode and rate the food of some of the show’s regular judges, all professional, celebrity chefs.
It was an amazing experience for the 10-year-old, who also lists tennis, hip-hop dancing, school theater and playing the cello among her hobbies. She got to cook for professional chefs, had a show wardrobe person hand-select a dress for her and got a pre-show tour of the show’s well-stocked pantry
“The experience was thrilling,” said Nikki, whose cooking style ranges from American comfort food to Belarussian delicacies. “It was like going on a rollercoaster, but with 10 times the adrenaline. I was ‘nervited’ – a combination of nervous and excited. “
Getting selected by the show is no easy task. After several interviews, videos and photo submissions, getting to hone her skills in the professional kitchen at Prohibition on Columbus Avenue and cooking, cooking, cooking, Nikki got the call. On the other end of the phone was a Food Network producer with the news Nikki was hoping for: she would be a contestant on Food Network’s Chopped Junior.
“I’m always commenting on the contestants when I watch the show on TV,” she said, “but now I’m that person on the big screen.”
Full disclosure: Nikki’s mother is Keith Marder’s business partner.