Teen cooks up Guinness World Record attempt

Teen cooks up Guinness World Record attempt

SMITHFIELD - A Smithfield teen is stepping up to the plate in an attempt to break a Guinness World Record by cooking for 38 hours straight.

Eighteen-year-old Ben Perry will start at the stroke of midnight on Tuesday, March 11, and cook through Wednesday as he tries to single-handedly break the record currently held by a veteran chef with more than 30 years experience.

That record was set in 2012 when Chef Rob Smink of the Netherlands cooked for 36 hours and 58 minutes as a way to celebrate the 10th anniversary of his namesake cooking school.

Perry, on the other hand, will be making his attempt for his final project at The Met School in Providence, where he is a senior.

But the rules are the same.

Perry, the sole cook, must always have two dishes going at once - having food in the oven or a slow cooker will count - and everything must be made from scratch.

He is also only allowed to use items found in an average kitchen. So even though Perry's St. Basil's Church Cultural Center in Lincoln, where the marathon will take place, has an industrial-sized oven, he will be relegated to the one fit for a household.

Perry's 20-year-old brother, Sam, will be just as busy during the competition, and perhaps the unsung hero, as he washes his brother's dishes for two days and gives him a hand grabbing supplies and packaging food.

The budding chef will be able to take one five-minute break per hour, which he can bank to perhaps fit in a nap. If he decides he needs one, that is.

"I'm probably not going to sleep," he said.

After all, he said, he has worked 14-hour shifts cooking at Hebert Nursing Home in Smithfield without a problem.

Per contest rules, all food prepared must be consumed, so the bounty will be donated to the Amos House in Providence. Food and supplies have been funded through donations from St. Basil's Church parishioners.

Perry said he expects to feed 350 people with his breakfast of pancakes, waffles, homefries and muffins, and another 500 each for lunch and dinner, which both have dishes featuring chicken, turkey and pasta, as well as side dishes. Amos House picked the menu, he said.

He will be on camera the entire time, save for any allotted breaks, so the tape can be sent to London for official confirmation of the record.

Stateside, two Johnson & Wales University officials will be on hand at all times to observe the attempt.

Scheduling officials has proved the most challenging part of the event, Perry said, adding that he is not anxious about the actual cooking.

"Cooking's easy for me," he said. "It just comes naturally."

The son of Bob and Joyce Perry, Ben Perry has been cooking since the 1st grade, when he used to watch cooking shows and take classes. His grandmother taught him how to create authentic Syrian dishes, which he now considers his favorite cuisine.

As a 3rd-grader, he won first place in a contest sponsored by the Food Network.

In 5th grade, Perry won a contest to cook with Emeril Lagasse in New York City as part of the Emeril Live television show.

He considers Hebert Nursing Home chef Harry Feather a mentor, who he followed from another Smithfield residential facility, North Bay Manor.

Perry has also interned at Red Stripe Restaurant, Stevie B's, Pamfilio's Italian Deli & Catering, The Lodge Pub & Eatery, and Chili's.

The next step is choosing between three culinary colleges as he continues to pursue his dream of being an executive chef.

"I love it," Perry said. "I just never get bored of it."

Curious if that remains true as the hours tick on?

The public is welcome to observe Perry's attempt, starting at 12 a.m. Tuesday, March 11, at St. Basil's Church Cultural Center, 15 Skyview Drive in Lincoln.