MARION - What started out as kind of a joke turned into the opportunity of a lifetime for a 12-year-old Marion boy a few weeks ago.
Josh Loyd, a sixth-grader at the junior high, said he started learning how to grill from his father, Anthony, as early as 5 years old. Thinking that he might be good enough to enter a competition, he, with help from his mother, DeShona, browsed the Internet and found the Kids' BBQ Championship competition advertised on the Food Network website.
Loyd filled out the paperwork online and network producers apparently liked what they saw as they contacted DeShona the next day.
"They asked me to do an interview by Skype, liked it, and then watched me make Chicken Monterey with vegetable kabobs and green beans. After that, I was invited to the show," Loyd said.
Loyd said most of his friends know about his participation in the barbecue championship, which was pre-recorded and will be aired at 7 p.m. on Monday, June 12.
"But I can't tell anybody what happened," he said. "I guess people are just going to have to tune in and find out."
Loyd is a straight A student at Marion Junior High. He said geography and math are probably his favorite classes.
And the young man is more than just a chef. He is also active in baseball and basketball.
"Cooking is not something I do all the time. It's pretty much just Friday nights when we grill," Loyd said. "I enjoy doing it a lot. It makes me feel good. It's nice to be recognized for something you enjoy doing."
DeShona said despite the fact that her son knows his way around a grill, she still handles most of the cooking chores around the house.
She said it's "exciting" that Josh has gained such notoriety at such an early age.
"I think it's his personality as much as the presentation of the meal that led to this opportunity," DeShona said. "It's been a great experience for him."