What's cookin'? Destin Elementary student enters national cooking contest

The King family from L to R: Jason, Grayson, Harper and Michelle.

Nine-year-old Grayson King first showed an interest in cooking when she was 18 months old.

"Grayson is old enough to cook independently and does so frequently," said her mother Michelle. "I sit at the counter to answer any questions, but she does her thing on her own. She gets up early for school sometimes and makes us bacon and eggs after she gets herself ready to go."

It was no surprise to her family when Grayson chose to enter Ben's Beginners Contest, a contest run by Uncle Ben's in which children submit videos of themselves introducing rice dish recipes. In her three-minute video, Grayson prepared wild rice with mushrooms and homemade cream sauce.

At stake is a grand prize of $15,000, a trip to New York to appear on "The Rachael Ray Show" and a $30,000 cafeteria makeover for the winner's school — in Grayson's case that would be Destin Elementary.

"When I was pregnant with Harper, now six, Grayson and I would watch Rachael Ray's '30 Minute Meals,' " Michelle said. “I couldn't believe that a cooking show could hold the interest of a three-year-old."

Preparing meals is a favorite pastime for the Destin family. Grayson even got her little sister Harper interested in cooking. They invented their own at-home cooking show based off the concept of "Cupcake Wars."

"Grayson has said more than once that she wanted to do a kid's cooking show on The Food Network," said Michelle. "Maybe she thinks if she can get in front of Rachael Ray she has a chance to be on 'Rachael Vs. Guy: Kid's Cook-Off." 

Despite busy schedules — Michelle and Jason both work full-time — the family makes it a point to have dinner together without television or iPhones.

"We sit down to dinner together every night of the week," Michelle said. "Jason had to work late a few weeks ago and Grayson refused to eat until he got home. So we waited."

Grayson tells her Mom she wants to own her own bakery when she's grown.

"She says she'll name it Sweetie's."

Through the contest she hopes more kids will take an interest in nutritious cooking.

"So many children don't have the opportunity to learn their way around a kitchen and don't know good nutrition," she said. "I would love the opportunity for Destin Elementary's cafeteria to be revamped and updated. More than anything, I wish we could teach kids more about proper nutrition and foods that are good for your body."

 Vote today: Grayson has the talent, now all she needs is votes to win the Ben's Beginners contest. Everyone can help Grayson, and Destin Elementary, become big winners by voting every day until Oct. 27. To vote, please visit https://www.bensbeginnerscontest.com/brand/gallery?region_id=us-en&content_id=578