The Truth About Alex Pineda From Chopped: Alton's Maniacal Baskets

Chef Alex Pineda wasn't born with a silver spoon in his mouth, but he was born into Boston's culinary royalty. And it wasn't a spoon but rather a chef's knife that Pineda was wielding at the age of 7 – a Christmas gift from his legendary chef mom, Lydia Shire (via Boston Herald). Shire won one of her two prestigious James Beard awards at her restaurant Biba, and she may need to give a young Pineda a little of the credit. His first food memory was standing on a milk crate to make lobster pizza at Biba. He also said his first words and took his first steps in Biba, and at 14 he stepped up – no milk crate needed – to be a line cook there (via How2heroes).

Given that Pineda literally grew up in restaurant kitchens, he should feel right at home on the set on Alton Brown's new Food Network show, "Chopped: Alton's Maniacal Baskets." The show premieres on June 22 on Food Network and Discovery+ (via Food Network). Four chefs will compete in each of four rounds, with the winners of each meeting in a fifth, grand-finale episode. Another Food Network webpage indicates that Pineda will appear in Part 4 of the series.

Alex Pineda trained early in his career under Wolfgang Puck

Alex Pineda returned to Boston to work for his mom at her restaurant Scampo after learning under Wolfgang Puck in Los Angeles, where he developed a flair for presentation (via Boston Herald). This particular talent should help him on "Chopped: Alton's Maniacal Baskets." One thing Pineda won't have on the show is his creative partner in the kitchen for nearly 10 years now, chef Noe Ortega. Northshore magazine reports that Pineda and Ortega started working together at Scampo. This spring, the two chefs untied themselves from Shire's apron strings and moved together to The Landing, taking over that Marblehead, Massachusetts restaurant as co-executive chefs.

The Landing's website says Pineda's experience is much broader than Wolfgang Puck and his mother's establishments. He sharpened his skills at restaurants in London, Barcelona, and China, too. No word on whether he's still sharpening that chef's knife he found under the Christmas tree as a little boy.