Sammy Voit has come a long way since his 2016 appearance on “Food Network Star Kids.”
In a short two years, the 13-year-old has further refined his talents, taking his interest in cooking to the next level by deciding to cater his own bar mitzvah earlier this month.
Voit’s love for cooking has always been there, it seems. He started cooking with his grandmother when he was 5, starting out with breakfast foods, but slowly evolving into more complex dishes, such as the orange marinade steak he made on the Food Network reality show.
“My interest in cooking is fueled by my love for food,” Voit said. “I am an artist, which is why I love to act. Cooking is another outlet for my creativity, like acting is.
“I also like the challenges of cooking something that is really challenging or new.”
Voit was inspired by the 2014 movie “The Hundred-Foot Journey” starring Helen Mirren, Om Puri and Manish Dayal about the rivalry between an Indian and a French restaurant. He also looks up to his favorite chef, Alton Brown.
Besides his appearances on Food Network — including another show, “Chopped Junior,” Voit hosted a YouTube channel called “My Poyfect Kitchen,” which he describes as “one part cooking, two parts fun.” His videos feature recipes for grilled portobello mushroom sandwiches, smoked aioli and salmon burgers.
Perhaps one of the more entertaining videos is an episode featuring his grandmother festively dressed in a whoopee cushion costume as the pair teaches how to make specialty Halloween cookies in the shape of witch hats and pumpkins.
“It was good practice to be behind the camera for when I was doing the cooking TV shows and stuff,” Voit said. “I like being on the technical side of everything, like the cameras. I thought a YouTube channel would be a good way to do that.”
Additionally, Voit travels around the country with Ryan Seacrest studios, cooking for various children’s hospitals for sick kids.
Because of Voit’s fierce passion for cooking, the decision to cater his own bar mitzvah was an easy one.
“I really wanted to cater something, and I thought my bar mitzvah would be a good way of doing that,” he said.
The party included more than 200 of his family and friends. Voit worked in the kitchen of Conservative Synagogue Adath Israel of Riverdale, preparing food two weeks in advance. He’d stay up until 2 a.m., some nights, perfecting his extensive menu, which included homemade pizza, fried wontons made from scratch, and, of course, cheesecake.
“Some people told me I was nuts and that I couldn’t do it, but I didn’t listen to them.” Voit said, “I know it’s cheesy, but if you keep working at it, you’ll get it.”
Voit donated the money that would have been spent catering toward charities that work to end homelessness. He’s also working on a film short, interviewing both homeless and non-homeless people to gain perspective of what one thinks of the other.
It’s a short that will join Voit’s existing YouTube library.
And even though he’s reached maturity — at least from a religious perspective — this is just the beginning for Voit.
“In the future, I want to cater more,” he said, “It was really fun, but I’m open to anything.”