EL PASO, Texas (KTSM) – A Bowie High School culinary arts teacher is getting ready to pick local talent for NBC’S Top Chef Junior.
Christopher Puga started a Facebook group to teach his culinary class virtually, but ended up getting a much larger following.
After gathering over 1,300 members on his Facebook page he was contacted by the project managers of NBC’s competitive show Top Chef Junior. They gave him the task to find a local competitor among his students.
“Hopefully, one of my ‘campers’ says: I’m a Top Chef Junior and I come from El Paso, Texas,” said Puga.
Puga posted his first video last year on his Facebook group called ‘Culinary Camp Puga’, thinking only about 50 of his students would join.
Shortly after, he received a message from a parent asking if her 5-year-old son could attend his class.
“This got me thinking, maybe there’s more kids out there that really want to learn somehthing new, something different,” recalled Puga.
Puga kept posting his culinary video tutorials every Friday night until he gained a following of over 1,300 group members.
“We have members from all over the United States and out of the country,” said Puga.
Puga teaches children to cook and bake traditional meals from the region, but also introduces them to the flavors from all over the world.
“In January we did Mexico, then France and now we’re moving to India,” he explained.
With more members in his school, he was inspired to create merchandise, so all of his students could feel as a part of the team.
Puga said he received donations from some locals, but hopes to get more sponsorships from bigger companies to make sure all of his students have the cooking and baking supplies they need.
“If a kid is learning how to make enchiladas now as a 5-year-old, the extent of what they can do when they’re 16,17,18 years old will be immaculate,” said Puga.
Puga’s plan for the future is to open an in-person culinary school for children where he can train young aspiring chefs and teach them new skills.
“It really has transformed my life,” he said, explaining all he thinks about is what is going to be the next step for his ‘ Culinary Camp Puga.’