MasterChef Junior Kellie Freeze
MasterChef Junior
Kid-testant Natalie prepares for her first Mystery Box challenge on the season premiere of MasterChef: Junior Edition.

Most parents shudder at the thought of their kids handling cutlery and most tykes subsist on a diet of macaroni and cheese, but a handful of children are already exploring the world of haute cuisine. Under the tutelage of of and judged by chef Gordan Ramsay, restaurateur Joe Bastianich and chef Graham Elliot, these pint size chefs will compete in the second season of FOX’s culinary competition MasterChef Junior.

Like the grown-up version of the show, MasterChef Junior is a search for America’s best home cooks. But here, the cooks are kids aged 8-13, and one of the 16 kid-testants will take home a $100,000 prize.

Last season’s winner, Alexander Weiss, (who was 13 when he won) stopped by to give some advice to the newest season’s contestants, “This is your first mystery box. Show your passion and put yourself on a plate.” And just to prove that Alexander’s success isn’t a flash in the pan, he mentions that in addition to cooking around the world for dignitaries and celebrities, he’s off to judge the Indonesian version of MasterChef Junior. Not bad for a kid who’s now a freshman in high school.

MasterChef Junior
Usually fear-inducing chef Gordon Ramsay has a friendly chat with kid-testant Jessica.

Thankfully, Gordon Ramsay is not as harsh on his smaller contestants as he is in his other FOX shows, MasterChef and Hell’s Kitchen. He’s actually playful and his interactions with the witty kid-testants are the highlight of the show. The kids are precocious and they each exude culinary confidence that belies their tender years. And of course, then there’s the food; within minutes of the start of the first mystery box challenge, kids are chopping, mixing and searing food that outclasses anything that I’ve served lately. Maybe I need to take notes when I watch.

My 7 year-old dreams of becoming a chef so our family will definitely be turning in to this season of MasterChef Junior. But even if your kids don’t dream of owning their own restaurant, this is family viewing at its best. Expert after expert agrees that the easiest way to get children to eat well and to try new foods is to get them excited about food. Of course growing a family garden and having your child help with cooking are great ideas, but watching peers find success in the kitchen is another powerful way to get you child interested in what your family eats. And perhaps the delicious recipes that you watch tonight will grace your table tomorrow!

I have little doubt that some day, these mini cooking stars will be earning Michelin stars.

 MasterChef Junior > FOX > Tuesdays beginning Nov. 4 at 8/7c

images ©Greg Gayne/ FOX