Vitals: Daniel McCaslin, 13, of Dakota, Ill., recently had his gourmet burger, “The Bacon Ranch Chicken Burger,” included in Red Robin’s Kids Cookoff Cookbook. Outside of his culinary interests, Daniel spends much time going on mission trips to assist those in need. This week, Daniel is in Ocean Grove, N.J., with his youth group assisting community members in need.
1. If you could choose any elected official – local, state or national – to speak with one-on-one, who would it be, and what would you say? I would want to speak to the President of the United States, Barack Obama (D). I would ask him to try my burger, and ask him what he can do for single moms who are out of work and who cannot find work. My mom is struggling right now, and she has applied everywhere that is local to us, and no place or no one has hired her. How can we help her and other single moms in this position?
2. If you were to move away from the Rock River Valley, what three things would you miss the most? I have a lot of family here, so I would definitely miss them. My friends I would miss also. I love my church, so I would have to say that as well, The Dakota United Methodist Church. I go to youth group there, and I’m going to New Jersey this week for a Missions Trip to help people in the community of Ocean Grove, N.J.
3. Since your recipe was chosen from more than 14,000 entries nationwide, do you have any aspirations of pursuing a career in the culinary arts? Yes! I have always told my mom that I wanted to go to cooking school. My Uncle Brian McCaslin is a great cook and was a chef at many restaurants in the Rockford area. My nana, Mary McCaslin, was a great cook as well. She loved my Bacon Ranch Chicken Burger. My mom and I cook all the time together, and I really like it. It’s fun and creative.
4. What made you decide to create “The Bacon Ranch Chicken Burger” for this competition? Well, my mom would make something similar, but not as a burger. She taught me how to make it, and I added some of my own ingredients to it, and turned it into a burger.
5. Question from last week’s “This Week in The Times” participant Margaret Stover: What is your favorite part of summer vacation? So far, I would have to say this trip to New Jersey. I am very excited for it, and to be able to help others in the community makes me feel great.
“This week in The Times” is a weekly survey of people selected by The Rock River Times staff. The column does not accept unsolicited submissions.
from the July 29-August 4, 2009, issue