Spruce Grove boy battling cancer earns place on Chopped Canada
'I loved it. I was always ready for it. I've been watching the show since I was five'
When Jonathan Giovannoni is too sick to leave the house, he takes comfort in cooking.
The Spruce Grove teen began experimenting in the kitchen, and watching hours of cooking shows, at the age of five, shortly after he was diagnosed with brain cancer.
"I was diagnosed with a brain tumour, so I couldn't really play with kids my age," he said. "So my dad started showing me how to cook pizzas and pastas, and ever since then I've had a passion for it.
"We would just spend our Sundays in the kitchen."
Now 13, Jonathan's passion for food has earned him a place on the small screen.
His skills will be tested in an upcoming episode of Chopped Canada Junior, a competition that showcases the work of some of Canada's youngest chefs.
'It was a great experience for me'
In an episode that airs Nov. 13, Jonathan tries to beat three other competitors on the Food Network show.
"I just tried to focus on what I was doing, cutting and cooking," Jonathan said in an interview with CBC Edmonton's Radio Active. "And I just tried to ignore all the cameras and all the action happening. It was a great experience for me."
Jonathan teaches cooking classes at his school, and holds weekly bake sales for Make A Wish Foundation. He jumped at the chance to take part in the competition.
When an ad seeking show contestants flashed across his television screen a few months ago, he put together an application full of his favourite recipes.
Within weeks, producers had booked his flight to Toronto for a live taping in the Food Network studios.
During the competition, he had to use a basket of surprise ingredients to concoct something delicious for the judges.
It's the way the show works, and he knew to expect the unexpected.
"I was fully gung-ho. I loved it. I was always ready for it. I've been watching the show since I was five."
"You never know what's in the basket, so I was just practising under time, with random ingredients my parents would pick out for me. But otherwise there is no real way to practise for that."
'It's my favourite thing to do'
Though Jonathan has to keep details of the episode under wraps for now, he said the competition was a real pressure cooker. Despite the stress of making a meal with the clock ticking, he feels confident about his performance.
"Nothing went too, too wrong for me. Just a few errors here and there, but everything went out of the kitchen as planned. So I was happy about that.
"It was amazing to see my competitors cook and getting the judges' critique on my dishes. I loved the whole experience."
Whether he wins or not, cooking will remain his passion. He hopes to one day open his own culinary school, so he can share his craft with the next generation of young chefs.
"It's my favourite thing to do. I do it every night. And during the day, I think about what I'm going to cook that night. It's my life."