***HOLD*** Lindale teenager enters chef contest

By Molly Reuter - bio - email

LINDALE, TX (KLTV) - He's not your typical East Texas teenager.  Benjamin Cooper of Lindale does not go home after school and watch TV, or play video games.  He cooks dinner for his entire family, and he loves it.  Now, Ben decided to take his cooking to the next level and entered a prestigious chef contest, and he needs your help.

He's only 16 year's old, but Ben Cooper, a Lindale High School junior says he knows what he wants to do.

"I want to get through school and eventually run my own restaurant, maybe even a couple of them," said Cooper.  Not just any school, Ben wants to attend Johnson and Wales University in Denver, a prestigious culinary school.  To help make it happen, Ben entered an online video chef contest at the school, hoping to get enough votes to win a scholarship.

"The dish is a grilled pork tenderloin with green bean bundles and Roma tomatoes," said Cooper.  Ben say's he's been cooking since 6th grade when he met a woman at church who ran a catering business.  Now, he cooks dinner for his family almost every night.

"That means a lot to me because I'm a single mom with four teenagers," said Ben's mother Michele Cooper.  "With a job and going to school, I don't have time to do a lot of things around here, so him taking that slack away is awesome."  Plus, Ben gets to try out his recipes on his sisters and brothers.

"They kind of eat what I make, and yes, sometimes they complain," said Cooper.  They never complain, however, when Ben fires up the grill.

"He can cook a mean steak," said Michele Cooper.  "He can put it on the grill, and it's really really good."  Ben says he loves to make anything on the BBQ, and who knows one day you may get to try his food right here in East Texas at his restaurant named...

"Probably Dukes, just cause John Wayne, I like John Wayne," said Cooper.

Now as we mentioned earlier Ben needs your votes.  To watch his video and vote go to our homepage.  Click on the Know More on 7 link and there you will find Lindale Chef Contest. Voting ends February 23rd.