Soaring Eagle: Jasmine Bell


Courtesy of Eli Hausman

Story by Kate Carroll, Editor-In-Chief

She opened a food truck to the public in less than 24 hours. She made a dozen cupcakes with just one hand. She created a gourmet dog treat. She even cooked a meal with a glow in the dark ingredient.

Freshman Jasmine Bell did all of that and more as a contestant on the Top Chef Junior program, which aired in fall of 2017.

On Top Chef Junior I made so many memories. One of my favorites was our glow in the dark late night food challenge,” Bell said. “Some of the girls and I started using the edible glitter on the boys’ faces and started doing their makeup. We were standing there serving our food, but we were also having fun with each other and really just having a great time.”

Bell was a contestant on the first season of Top Chef Junior in the fall of 2017, but it was not her first time as a contestant on a nationally televised cooking competition show. She was also a part of season five of Masterchef Junior, which was filmed in 2016 and aired in early 2017.

Because of her time on MasterChef Junior, Bell was invited to a private casting call for Top Chef Junior, where she was one of 12 young chefs chosen to compete.

“With Top Chef Junior I had really developed some skills,” Bell said. “I was way more confident and my nervousness level was a lot lower, so I was just really excited about the show.”

As a seventh grader, Bell auditioned for Masterchef Junior after beginning to take cooking more seriously just months before.

“I was very nervous for Masterchef Junior because I had just started really cooking just a few months before,” Bell said. “I was just like ‘okay, I know I can do this but I think my skill level is just a little too low,’ but then I made it on to the show and I was super excited.”

Bell discovered her love for cooking while helping her mom in the kitchen. She started getting more involved around the holidays and developed a special affinity for baking.

“I would bake whatever we were doing for the holidays,” Bell said. “Especially cupcakes; red velvet cupcakes are one of my specialties.”

Bell decided to start taking cooking more seriously and signed up for a cooking summer camp where she enhanced her skills and developed a greater passion for food; she pursued Masterchef Junior soon after. As she has grown, she has worked with a number of mentors who have opened more doors for her culinary career.

One of Bell’s local mentors is chef Clark Barlowe, executive chef and owner of Heirloom restaurant that strives to serve “locally sourced” and “globally inspired” meals.

“I had gone to a class at the Art Institute [of Charlotte] and he asked us all what our favorite dishes were and I said something really fancy,” Bell said. “He was like ‘oh my God, I want you to come work in my restaurant.’”

After her time on Masterchef Junior, Bell began working with Barlowe consistently and has since then received a number of unique opportunities through the restaurant.

“In 2017, I started going in every Friday or Saturday that I could and I have actually been able to host a few collab dinners with him,” Bell said.

In addition to having real life experience in a restaurant, Bell also has her own catering and apron business.

“It was after MasterChef Junior when I started my whole business. It was a catering, sweet treat and apron company,” Bell said. “With the business, I’ve done a couple catering events by myself which was really fun for me.”

Much of Bell’s career skyrocketed during her seventh and eighth grade years. As she prepared for high school, she was excited to become a part of the East Meck community.

“I really wanted to come to East Meck, especially for the culinary,” Bell said. “I know we have a great culinary program and I have learned so much. I was really nervous that I wasn’t going to learn a lot but I have actually learned so many things and it is so interesting. I am just excited to be a part of it.”

Bell is also a part of the culinary team at East, which began practicing for competition after Thanksgiving.

Bell’s culinary journey has only just taken off, but she has ambitious goals for the future.

“When I get older and when I own a restaurant,” Bell said. “I want to be able to mentor someone like other chefs have done for me.”