Local boy proves to be a burgeoning chef

HOUSTON Chefdom is in John Walton's blood.

"My grandfather Kenneth Walton used to own a chain of restaurants called Kent's," John said. "Then my Dad went there when he was a kid, and I guess I'm just the next generation of them."

And, after winning Red Robin's burger contest, he's well on his way.

"It's hard to believe a 10-year-old can get all this!" John said.

John's recipe is featured in cook book, and he's sharing his creation with his hometown.

"It's basically just a normal Red Robin burger patty with a big scoop of baked macaroni and cheese on top," he explained. "The reason I do baked macaroni and cheese is because if you do just normal Kraft or Velveeta without baking it, it would make the bun soggy and it would run."

Proud father Bill Walton says his son has always had a knack for mixing ingredients, and his talent is paying off.

"He's already got a job lined up working for a friend of ours who runs a pastry shop, and the only requirement I have is that he be the best that he can be," Bill said.

John's best is really tasty according to fans of his cooking.

"It's really good, the combination is really tasty," a Red Robin customer said.

Another customer agreeed, saying, "It's pretty good!"

John's recipe was certainly good enough for the folks at the Tomball Red Robin restaurant!

"Hhe's our hometown boy, isn't he? Yeah, he's from our backyard," assistant manager Ameeth Raju said. "We didn't even know we had a jewel in our backyard, and we found it. We're very excited for him to be here and very proud to have him, too."

John says he'll practice cooking when school starts by making his own meals. And, he's already thinking about next year's contest.

"I'm throwing around some ideas right now," John said. "I've got it down to four. I can't tell you [what they are] because it would break the secret."

Guess we'll just have to wait and see what this local burger boy thinks of next!

The cookbook, with 50 burger recipes all created by kids, can be downloaded online for free at www.redrobin.com.

The recipe for John's burger is as follows:

1 lb. ground beef
2 Tbsp. butter
2 12 oz. cans evaporated milk
4 eggs
1 tsp. salt
1 lb. uncooked elbow macaroni
1 lb. shredded American cheese
2 cups water
2 tsp. mustard powder
1/2 tsp. white pepper

Form 4 hamburger patties. Season each with a pinch of salt, pepper, onion and garlic powder. Cover and refrigerate until later. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. In a shallow three-quart baking dish, toss uncooked macaroni and melted butter together, to coat the macaroni and the inside of the dish. Add cheese and stir lightly. In a medium bowl, whisk together the evaporated milk, water, eggs, mustard powder, salt and white pepper. Pour into the baking dish to cover the macaroni. Bake uncovered for 45 minutes, or until the center is set. Remove from oven and let stand 5 minutes before serving. During the last 15 minutes of bake time, remove hamburger patties from refrigerator and grill to preferred doneness. Serve each patty on a lightly toasted bun with an ice cream scooper-sized mound of mac n' cheese directly on top. Accompany with dill pickles, fries and desired condiments.

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