Get this: 14-year-old cook makes mark

ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — Spencer Venancio was 8 when he began cooking four-course dinners for friends and family.

By 10, the teen was poring over cooking websites, asking for cooking equipment for Christmas, perfecting complicated culinary techniques and preparing elaborate six-course dinners.

“He bought a sous vide when he was 12,” said his father, David Venancio, referring to the cooking method in which food is placed in a plastic pouch or a glass jar and cooked in a water bath.

“He bought it early — he was an early adopter — and then had to wait six months for it to arrive,” David Venancio said to the St. Paul Pioneer Press. “When it finally arrived, it was like Christmas. ‘My sous vide! My sous vide!’ “

Spencer, 14, is now interning at some of Minneapolis’ finest restaurants, teaching cooking classes and hosting 12-course pop-up tasting-menu dinners. The price to attend his latest event, held recently at Bardo in Northeast Minneapolis, was $105 a person.

“I’m a very competitive person, so I’ve always had the mentality of whatever I’m going to do, I’m going to be the best at it,” said Spencer, an eighth-grader at Oak-Land Middle School in Lake Elmo. “To me, the best was always fine-dining and tasting-menu restaurants. I’m going to be the best at this that I possibly can.”

His latest dinner’s first two courses were: a salt-roasted turnip taco with lamb tartare, buttermilk fluid gel, horseradish and lemon, and a Spanish mackerel crudo.

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