15-year-old whiz-kid chef creates new kids' menu for MOA FireLake

FireLake's executive chef Dinesh Jayawardena and 15-year-old Ariana Feygin, with two of their dishes

FireLake's executive chef Dinesh Jayawardena and 15-year-old Ariana Feygin, with two of their dishes Courtesy of FireLake

FireLake’s Bloomington outpost made a mission out of expanding your kids’ palates beyond grilled cheese and chicken tendies this holiday shopping season. And, they figured, what better way to achieve such goals than enlisting the help of a fellow whiz kid with great taste and chef skills to match? 

This new menu was designed in collaboration between 15-year-old rising culinary star and Minnesota native Ariana Feygin and FireLake’s executive chef, Dinesh Jayawardena. The pint-sized among us now choose between approachably adult items—like pan-seared salmon with fresh corn and fancy mashed potatoes, or an entree of mini fajitas served with either signature rotisserie chicken or beef, plus cotija cheese, salsa, and lime-infused sour cream. 

If Feygin’s name sounds familiar, this could be for a few reasons. Television lovers recognize the Minnesota native from when she rose to national prominence through a stint on MasterChef Junior, where she was a finalist. More locally, Feygin could be found in kitchens-of-note for years, where she honed her craft under the wing of chefs like Gavin Kaysen.

“This collaboration is so important to me because kids develop their palates and nutritional habits from a very young age, and restaurants have a tremendous opportunity [to] help shape healthy eating habits in our future generations,” says Feygin. “My goal is to introduce kids to new flavors, textures, and ingredients that wouldn’t usually be found on a typical kids’ menu.”

When not crafting menus meant to change the eating habits of future generations or staging for James Beard-winners, Feygin retains her status as a full-time high school student. 

As if that’s not a full plate on its own, she’s also the co-founder of an eponymous charitable foundation. Through this, she leverages her cooking prowess to generate contributions for nonprofit organizations big and small. She’s already raised over half a million dollars for the Children’s Cancer Research Fund, Make-A-Wish Foundation, Children’s HeartLink, Newborn Foundation, Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, ICA Food Shelf, Helping Paws, Global Minnesota, and more. In doing so, the teen became the youngest-ever recipient of Minnesota Business Magazine’s “2018 Women Who Lead” award.

In short? You’re probably too old to eat what Feygin’s dishing up at FireLake’s MOA location—unless you’re a member of City Pages’ precocious 10-years-old-and-under readership demographic, in which case, hiya

No matter, though, Ariana Feygin will probably cook for you somewhere else soon… but first she’s got to get her driver’s license.


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