“New Kids On the Chopping Block”
Season 4 of MasterChef Junior is here, and it’s time to meet a new group of incredibly young and incredibly talented home cooks. Will they set the bar even higher than last season? Will we perhaps finally see a young girl win, after three seasons of boys being victorious? I guess we’ll have to wait and see as the competition goes on…but from the intro clips it sure seems like we’ll be hearing and seeing a lot of screeching and screaming this season so maybe I’d better keep the earplugs handy…
This time we have 24 hopeful kids, starting with 9 year old Avery from Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Chad from Poughkeepsie New York is also 9, and he says it’s the biggest kitchen he’s ever seen in his life. Kya, 8, is from San Marino California and says she was three years old when she started cooking and she’s got a “very sophisticated palette” and plans to be head chef of a Michelin three-star restaurant some day.
Our returning judges this time around are Graham, Gordon and Christina, here for her first season of MasterChef Junior. 9 year old Addison from River Forest, Illinois is especially excited to meet Christina because she says Christina is the best adult baker in the world (uh, I personally don’t really think so but whatever) and she is the best kid baker in the world.
Gordon welcomes them all to the kitchen, and states they ranges from 8 to 13 years in age. Avery says it’s time for a girl to win MasterChef Junior and the boys better watch out because “Hurricane Avery” is coming through. But before they can compete in the kitchen, they each need a MasterChef white apron. They’ve all earned an apron, but it’s not going to be that easy. They will find their aprons in one of the “scariest places” in the MasterChef kitchen…a place they have to get inside: a giant pinata sculpted like Gordon’s head. They have to grab giant kitchen utensils to beat it open and retrieve their aprons.
Adam, 11, is from Brooklyn New York, and he says Gordon already has a big head, now they have to whack at this thing? Graham says it’s like Lord of the Flies as the kids go into attack mode on the pinata. Alexander, 10, is from Phoenix, Arizona and he says getting the apron is like getting a black belt in karate. Well, at least we now understand the headband he’s wearing. Are all of these kids going to be total stereotypes this season?
Now they must face their first Mystery Box challenge. They have to make one amazing dish from whatever they find in their boxes, and the winner will get a “huge advantage” in the next stage of the competition. What will they find inside? A single empty bun. What goes inside of buns? Burgers. They will have to each make their own signature burger, along with an “incredible” side dish. They have access to a limited pantry of ingredients such as various ground meats, different kinds of buns they can use, cheeses and vegetables. They have one hour to cook.
Vivian from Arizona is making a Southwestern burger with jalapenos and garlic french fries. She says she’s an A+ student so she wants to get an A+ on her burger. Adam is making a regular bacon burger with avocado mayo and pickled Asian slaw. Addison is making an avocado relish for her burger along with chipotle lime chips.
Zac is from Orlando Florida, and he’s making chuck and sirloin burger with onions. He’s only been cooking for a year and a half. Avery is making pork and ground venison burger with cole slaw and Creole sauce and sweet potato chips. 8 year old Ian from Beverly Shores, Indiana is making a bison burger with American cheese and fries.
Kya is the youngest in the competition and she’s made a Wagyu burger with apple fries. Time is running out, and the judges take a step back to say who they think is doing well. Graham is looking forward to Avery’s burger, saying it smells incredible. Kya looks like she knows what she’s doing, Christina says.
Time is called and the judges will now look at the top three burgers, and they are starting with one that went in a very non-traditional direction. It really celebrates where the home cook came from: Avery. She calls it a “Sportsman’s Paradise” Burger with “jazzy” cole slaw, Creole sauce and sweet potato chips. She used pork and venison mixed together (a combination I love to cook with myself as the pork fat balances out the leanness of the venison). She’s nailed the cook temp and it’s delicious, Gordon says. The bun is a touch too soggy, however. Graham says the flavors, the season is explosive and the only thing he’d change is a little more pork.
Next up is someone who burger has a lot of sophisticated flavors and is made by someone cooking way beyond their years: 12-year old Zac. He plays a lot of tennis when he’s not cooking. He’s made a chuck and sirloin burger with cheese, shiitake mushrooms and butter lettuce with panko crusted onion rings. Christina says it’s a picture-perfect burger but she’d love a little more seasoning. Gordon loves the fact that he kept it classic, but the onion rings could be a little more crispy but by and large a great effort.
Last up for tasting is a home cook who plated their burger beautifully. They also served a delicious side: Kya. She’s made a Wagyu burger with apple fries, balsamic katsup and two cheeses. The flavor is delicious, Graham says, but the burger could be a little smaller. Kya says she’s originally from Hong Kong and her father used to make Wagyu beef burgers. Gordon would only change the apples; they need a bit more cooking.
The judges debate these three burgers and says there can only be one winner: Kya. She’s headed to the pantry to receive her huge advantage. Her first advantage is that she does not have to cook in the elimination challenge. But everyone else will have to cook with one “amazing ingredient”.
Kya returns from the pantry carrying a container with the ingredient. She will get to go up in the balcony and enjoy a cake prepared by Christina and a milkshake – and she’ll get to bring one friend up there with her to share it with. She chooses Vivian.
Kyndall, 9 years old and from Philadelphia, PA, says she hopes there’s candy in the box Kya is holding, because candy saves your life. Kya puts the box down on the counter to prepare to open it, but hold on! Gordon goes off stage for a moment to bring back what looks like…dynamite? A “boom thingy”? The kids start ducking for cover behind their benches as Gordon attaches the red wire to the container. He then instructs Kya to put her hands on the handle and push down. What suddenly rains down from overhead? Marshmallows!
The kids start eating some of them, and throwing marshmallows at each other. They now must make a marshmallow dish to stay in the competition. Obviously it is likely to be a dessert. They will 5 minutes in the pantry to gather their ingredients. There is fruit, butter, eggs, milk chocolate, vanilla, flour, milk, powdered sugar, and a variety of different marshmallow types.
Jesse, 11, is from New York and says marshmallows are little clouds of yumminess. Christina says she wants to see some really creative use of the marshmallows – not just dropping them cold into a dish but as the star. Mia is from Austin Texas and she’s making biscuits with marshmallow butter. Corey is making a peach and banana cake with marshmallow cream. Jesse is making marshmallow churro with marshmallow whipped cream. 9 year old Kade from Louisiana is making banana split with sweet potato biscuits, as he wants to do something savory and sweet.
Time is halfway up, and Gordon checks on Addison. She’s making chocolate cupcake with marshmallow filling. Kade was trying to lightly torch his marshmallow but he’s totally burned his to a char. Ian is making a kind of apple tart with marshmallow whipped cream. Sam is from South Carolina he’s making raspberry marshmallow pie that his grandfather taught him, he says. Meanwhile, Alexander has one problem: he added too much water to his raspberry sauce. He’s making marshmallow pie with graham cracker banana chip crust. Gordon asks to try on his bandana, which he got in Japan.
Five minutes to go, and who are the judges expecting great things from? Christina wants to see what Addison is making. Gordon is expecting something good from Jesse and Graha is excited by Sam…and his mohawk!
Alexander over-torches his marshmallows and everything needs to be on the plate in time. Time is called and Addison is called forward first for tasting. She’s made chocolate marshmallow cupcake with chocolate cereal and ganache with roasted marshmallow and edible flower. Gordon says it’s gooey, rich and moist and it’s too good. It doesn’t need the flower, though. Great start, great finesse.
Next up is Sam. He mostly cooks, not bakes, but he’s confident with his whoopie pies with raspberry marshmallow cream and chocolate cookie batter. Graham says “whoopie” and it’s out-of-control good. It’s a home run.
Christina wants to try Alexander’s dish but he is worried because of his presentation. In fact he’s ready to cry because the plating looks horrible. He has marshmallow pie with banana and graham cracker crust. The filling really does have the flavor of marshmallow so overall he really did celebrate marshmallows with the dish.
Kade is called up and he’s scared about his crispy marshmallows. He’s got banana split with sweet potato biscuit, marshmallow gravy and toasted marshmallows. His torched marshmallows look like they’ve been cremated, Gordon says. Why didn’t he start it again when he had plenty of time? He doesn’t have an answer for Gordon. The biscuit tastes not too bad but the chocolate and marshmallows are burnt. I think we’ll probably be seeing the last of Kade tonight.
Jessie is next with marshmallow churro with toasted marshmallow whipped cream. Christina says they are amazing. Corey has peach and banana cake with candied raspberry, toasted marshmallow and strawberry. Gordon wants more marshmallow inside the cake instead of just on the side.
Mia has marshmallow biscuit with marshmallow butter and raspberry gastrique sauce. Graham likes the colors and it’s really good. It’s simple but done in a great way.
Last up (that we see) is Ian. He has apple crostata with toasted – or rather burnt – marshmallows. His whipped cream turned out bad, he says, like vomit. So he didn’t serve it. There’s no marshmallows except for the burnt ones around the side of the dish. The apples taste delicious but it needed more time and the pastry is too thick. Sounds like time got the better of him. He doesn’t think he’s going to make it to the next round of the competition…and I think he’s probably right.
The judges take some time to debate who did well and who didn’t. Alexander, Ian and Kade definitely seem to be in trouble from what they are saying. Christina calls forward Jesse, Alexander, Addison, Ian, Kade, and Sam. I can already guess this means three of them had the best (Jesse, Addison and Sam) and three the worst. Sure enough, Addison, Sam and Jesse are called forward from those six and told they made the best three dishes of the night. They are safe.
Alexander, Ian and Kade just fell short. Ian did just enough to sneak through, he’s told, so he’s staying. But that means Alexander and Kade are going to be going home tonight.
This wasn’t a bad first episode for the season, except that with 24 kids to keep track of it’s hard to get to know much about any of them, except for the few that were shown doing really well or really poorly. And I do think some of them are being portrayed as “characters” more than real “kids”, at least in the editing so far. But we’ll have to see how the rest of this season plays out, right?
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sockii is just your typical Jane-of-All-Trades who never has enough time in her day for all of her projects. She has written for many websites online including Squidoo, Zujava, Yahoo! Contributors Network, HubPages and Wizzley. She has been attending and vending at science fiction and media conventions for over 15 years, and for several years ran an art gallery and jewelry store in Philadelphia. Today she is happy to be living in South Jersey with her partner David and their 6 cats. Sockii is a member of several affiliate sales programs including Amazon Associates and Viglink. Products from these services may be advertised on her posts and pages to generate sales commissions.