For many of us, finding new recipes and figuring out the best spices to buy is an ongoing process, and it can take years to gain any level of fluency in the kitchen. High school freshman Kristopher DiGiulio, however, is ahead of the game: the Kirkland, WA resident has been competing in chili competitions since he was nine and recently had one of his recipes included in the “Future Chefs of the World Cookbook” by Ramin Ganeshram.
DiGiulio’s passion for cooking reportedly comes from his family: he began to participate in chili cook-offs at such a young age after watching his grandfather, Vincent DiGiulio, compete in events across Washington. After honing his work, the young chef began seeing results: in 2013, he competed in three chili cook-offs, winning a “best-tasting” award in the first and “best overall” in the next two.
Following this success, DiGiulio started receiving requests for tips and recipes. In response, his family compiled a self-published cookbook of family dishes, chili recipes, and instructions for pies, pizza, lasagna, ravioli and pasta. They then sold the cookbook for $10, donating the proceeds to the Shrine Children’s Hospital, a health organization with locations across North America, and the Royal Arch Children’s Heart Foundation.
At first, the recipe books sold primarily to friends and acquaintances. However, Vincent DiGiulio reported that the family was contacted by Ramin Ganeshram, a chef and author based in Paris. Somehow, she had received a copy of the book and was interested in featuring one of DiGiulio’s recipes: his alligator chili recipe. Originally created for a chili competition featuring judges from Louisiana, the dish features alligator meat. The recipe was featured in Ganeshram’s “Future Chefs of the World Cookbook,” which features 150 different dishes from young chefs around the globe. Currently, the book has an average rating of 4.9 out of 5 on Amazon.com.
DiGiulio’s success in the kitchen seems to be due to his attention to detail: he typically uses a wood stove to prepare his food, which he says creates a better flavor, and also meticulously prepares his ingredients. He also uses a different recipe for every competition and has a habit of borrowing ingredients from other dishes, as he did with his alligator chili. Given how difficult it can be to step outside one’s comfort zone in cooking, this quality has drawn praise from people in all aspects of the food industry.
“In the last 5-7 years we’ve seen many new products introduced to the market, there are hundreds of examples of different flavor combinations that are out of the box that are home-runs because people are trying new and different things,” says Gary Woolley of Pollen Ranch. “For example whiskey and chili smoked brown sugar was recently introduced and it is fantastic. Jalepeno bacon jelly is another great recipe introduction that has come along and is unique and flavourful.”
In the future, DiGiulio hopes to attend culinary school and eventually become a chef for the U.S. Army, in which his father currently serves. Currently, however, you can test his chili recipe by purchasing “Future Chefs of the World,” which is available on Amazon.