I am United Methodist: Lucy Chelton
For 11-year-old Lucy Chelton, a member of Christ United Methodist Church in Lansdale, Pennsylvania, cooking comes as naturally as does walking to a toddler. So much so that she's been cooking for almost as long as she's been walking.
Her parents recall the story of the day — she was about two years old — when Lucy came into the kitchen, spotted her dad cooking, pulled over a stool, and said, "I help!" She's been cooking ever since, becoming more independent with each passing year. Eric Chelton is assistant pastor at Christ Church. Lucy's mother, Miki, is the music director and Girl Scout leader.
In 2016, Lucy competed in and was the winner on an episode of the Food Network's "Chopped Jr." show. This past summer, she competed in the show's champion tournament. Unfortunately, she was chopped in the second round. But as the youngest competitor by at least a year, Lucy was thrilled to be asked back to compete.
Recalling her experiences on the show, Lucy said, "I was nervous at first but as the rounds went on, I got a little more confident and comfortable with the cast and producers. It was so much fun meeting Ted Allen, the producers, and the judges both times I was on the show. I would totally — and really want to — do it again!"
As an episode winner, Lucy received a cash award and selflessly donated some of the money to Pennridge FISH, a local foodbank. "I donated to FISH," Lucy said, "because I think everyone should get food."
Lucy's penchant for giving back also extends to her church and community. "I am an acolyte, a member of our children's and chime choirs and participate in a local foodbank ministry ‘Cooking for Manna'," Lucy said. In addition, she helps with the church's Circuit Kids — a program for younger children during worship — and is a member of the caring committee. Caring committee members cook for people who are sick and can't get around in the kitchen.
"I've helped preschoolers going into kindergarten learn simple skills so they can make snacks at home such as strawberry banana smoothies and fruit tarts in puffed pastry," Lucy said. "Some of the skills include safe knife skills — don't worry, we used plastic knives — making puffed pastry bowls, using a blender and measuring ingredients."
Active in scouting, Lucy participated in a Camporee this fall, teaching other Girl Scouts how to make energy balls and smoothies as well as sharing measuring and knife skills and general safety tips in the kitchen. She's also been a speaker at the annual meeting of the School Nutrition Association of Pennsylvania and a judge for a pie contest at a local charity fundraiser.
Food and faith go hand-in-hand for Lucy. "When I bring food to people who need it," Lucy said, "I feel that I am showing God's love in action. I can spread God's love and faith through that little thing; it has helped me be thankful for what I have."
As for her future? "My hope is to either be a chef or an autistic support teacher," Lucy said. "If I become a chef, I want to own a family-style restaurant or a food truck with burgers and mac and cheese. I want to have the world's biggest selection of different mac and cheeses on the menu."
She continues, "God has blessed me with all the different opportunities I've had through my talent — being on ‘Chopped Jr.' twice, helping others, getting opportunities to talk and teach, and winning money that I can share and also use to prepare for college."
Indeed, the future looks bright — and possibly very tasty — for Lucy.
Cindy Solomon is a marketing consultant and content writer living in Franklin, Tennessee.