It is no secret that I prefer MasterChef Junior to its adult counterpart, and thankfully, the folks at FOX believe the same. After the success of the show’s second season, a third season was quickly ushered to air, and a fourth season has just finished casting and will commence production in the next few months.
This season, chef Joe Bastianich has left the MasterChef judging panel, but Christina Tosi, from Momofuku Milk Bar has joined the franchise and we’ll see her in the show’s next cycle (MasterChef, Season 6) where she will join Chefs Gordon Ramsay and Graham Elliot. Also joining the TCA panel were Season 3 contestants Alexis, Ayla, Jimmy, Kyler, Mia, Nathan, and Quincy.
When asked about culinary skills as a confidence builder in kids, Gordon Ramsay agrees: “I think English and math is pivotal, but I think cooking is equally as important because, three times a day, seven days a week for the rest of your life, you have to eat. Also, that level of confidence returning back to school, knowing full well we may not be the best at French and we may not be the best at history, but my God, can you cook!”
When asked what life skills they’re learning on MasterChef Junior, 12 year-old Jimmy said, “I think that one of the biggest things that you learn is how to cook under pressure, like, because, when you are at home, you don’t have a timer. You are just cooking for, like, your family. You, like they are your family. There are not going to, like, not like you if you make a bad dish. So, when you are cooking under a timer, it’s just really pressurist and is that a word, “pressurist”?
They can create tasty dishes and they can create new words, too. After the panel, I chatted further with charmers Jimmy and Nathan. One of my sons loves to cook and is a big fan of the show, so I asked the boys for their cooking advice to other kids. “I saw just do whatever feels right in the kitchen, says Jimmy. “If you like Oreos and you like mint, just put the two together in the blender and do whatever feels right”
Twelve year-old Nathan adds, “If you want to get into cooking, don’t be afraid to screw up. Screwing up is how you learn. Learning is the first step on the path to greatness.”
I chatted with Tosi and she says period to joining the judging panel, she was a fan of both MasterChef and MasterChef Junior. She explains her attraction to the show. “It has a call to action. It’s not just a show that you sit down and watch. It makes you want to get into the kitchen and makes you want to try things out. It makes you want to go out to eat. It makes you more curious about food.”
I asked the baking and pastry guru if baking is a good first step for kids interested in the kitchen. “I started my career in the home kitchen, baking. I was raised by women who love to bake. I do think there is that 1 + 1 =2 mentality, and what is a cup? If I want to split a recipe, how do I do that? And that basic math is really helpful. It’s so much easier to grasp those building block s of learning when they have a real-life application.”
Jimmy says, “Put yourself on a plate.”
After the panel, we put ourselves on plates, and our culinary skills to the test as Tosi and the kids from MasterChef Junior led interested TCA journalists in the making of cake balls. Photos exist of my attempts, which did not come out as well as the delicious ones that we were thankfully gifted from Tosi’s bakery. And the charming kids flitted through the ballroom helping, and offering encouraging.
MasterChef Junior airs Tuesdays ay 8pm ET/PT on FOX