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From Justin Bieber, who at 14 had a hit video on YouTube, to actress Hailee Steinfeld, who at the same age had an Academy Award nomination followed by an ad campaign with Miu Miu, the next big thing keeps getting younger and younger. Enter Flynn McGarry, a freckle-faced Southern California teen, who’s been cooking out of Thomas Keller’s French Laundry cookbook since the tender age of 10. Now, at 14, he’s expected to hold court for the second time among culinary royalty Daniel Humm and Will Guidara at their three-Michelin-starred Eleven Madison Park come Aug. 13-18.
So how did McGarry score such a gig at an age when most boys are concerned with immersing themselves in Xbox and boobs than circulators and duck breasts? To hear him tell it, he’s just an oddball. “I’m shy and weird,” McGarry told the New Yorker in April. “But every chef I’ve met is weird, basically. We want to work long days, it’s really stressful, it’s hot, you get cut, it’s brutal. But we love it. We live for it.”Even if “living for it” is just four short years?
“His success so far is clearly a result of his access,” quips Jason Kessler, a Los Angeles-based food writer who pens “The Nitpicker” column for Bon Appetit. “If I was a chef, I think I’d be a little miffed that this kid was getting the attention without putting his time in the kitchen. I can’t wait to see the 4-year-old who makes his own baby food.” What’s more, Flynn’s mom Meg, a screenwriter who manages his p.r., declined The Post’s request for an interview saying he’s “taking a press break until he actually needs some.”
While McGarry spends two days a week interning at a Los Angeles restaurant, his mother has gone to great lengths to encourage her son’s culinary aspirations — despite not being a cook herself — and went into credit card debt to turn his bedroom into a miniature version of Grant Achatz’s kitchen at Alinea, complete with four induction burners and stainless steel counters. (His bed folds up.) His older sister, Paris, enthusiastically lends her support to her brother and on her hyperbolically named blog, “The Sister of a Culinary Prodigy,” enthuses about Flynn being “the coolest brother ever” and “a high class, fancy pants chef.”