My Fantasy MasterChef JR S6 x E10,11,12

Episode 10 The top 17 are ready for their first Skills Test. They will have to break down a whole chicken! The kids who do the best are safe and the kids who don’t will go into a Pressure Test. After thirty minutes of mad knife skills the judges look at the kids work to see who is safe. Ben-Yes; Sophia-Yes; Maria-Yes; Beni-No; Cade-Yes; Sammy-No; Ariana-Yes; Mikey-Yes; Emily-Yes; Juelz-Yes; Gracie-Yes; Avery-No; Zia-No; Quani-Yes; Anthony-No; Grayson-No; & Evan-Yes. The young cook who was best of the best is …. SOPHIA!!

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The 6 remaining kids have to make Gordon’s Chicken Breast & Yukon Gold Potatoes dish. During the cook time Zia burns her hand and when the medic is looking at it Sammy keeps an eye on her chicken for her. 😊 Time is up. Sammy’s chicken is nice and juicy and he cut the potatoes nicely. Gordon says, “If you keep cooking like this you could win the whole thing!” Zia’s chicken breast is also cooked to the right temp, however her potatoes are cut too big and don’t cook all the way through. But overall, Christina tells her, great job. Anthony slightly overcooked his chicken but he hit the nail on the head with the potatoes. They are perfection. Grayson hammered his chicken. All the juices are gone and his potatoes are somewhat charred. Not his day in the kitchen. Beni did a really good job with the chicken breast and the potatoes. Christina says, “If you are this good at nine, I can’t wait to see where you will be at my age.” Avery’s dish looks amazing. The skin is nice and crispy, but inside, the chicken is too pink.☹ On the plus side, her potatoes are tender and flavored nicely.

Sammy and Beni did the best and Anthony and Zia also did well enough to stay

.

That leaves Grayson and Avery. Gordon can’t even say who is going home. He asks the young home cook who knows their time in the kitchen is done to step forward. Avery steps forward, she knows undercooked chicken is a culinary disaster. She says, “I’m disappointed, but I’ve had the time of my life here. I’m so grateful to the judges for helping me learn to be a better cook.” She tells the 16 kids still in the competition to keep their dreams alive. There is a gigantic group hug surrounding Avery before they all walk her out together. 😊

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Episode 11 The top 16 home cooks arrive at an airfield where they will cook for 101 veterans. Since Sophia did the best breaking down the chicken she is Captain of the Blue Team and he gets to pick her WHOLE TEAM at once! She picks Ariana, Ben, Beni, Emily, Evan, Gracie & Maria.

That leaves Anthony, Cade, Grayson, Juelz, Mikey, Quani & Zia on the Red Team. They have to decide together who will be their Captain and they choose Quani. They will be cooking and serving steak with two sides.


On the Blue Team Maria is panicking at the grill and she starts to cry. Evan gives her a big hug and reminds her she is in the top 16 and she can do it. They finish cooking the meat together. On the Red Team 4 plates get sent back due to undercooked beef. These are not rare, they are practically raw. Quani quickly refires them but it is doubtful they will be finished in time for the vote. The votes are tallied and the winning team by 13 votes is … BLUE TEAM!!!


Back in the MasterChef Kitchen the Blue Team is given a further advantage. They can choose two members of the Red Team to save from the Pressure Test. They save Cade and Anthony. The remaining 6 will cook a Signature Pizza that reflects them as a chef. Quani’s Stuffed Crust Pizza is terrific. The crust is crispy and the melted cheese is divine. Sadly, Mikey burnt his crust and his toppings are very chucky. Gordon explains they were too large blend flavors. Grayson’s Naked Pizza has no cheese, but the anchovies on the pizza make it very tasty. Zia’s Pepperoni Pizza looks amazing. She nailed the crust and her use of fresh tomatoes was unexpected and delicious. Sammy’s Sausage Pizza is a meat lover’s dream. He cooked the sausage perfectly and seasoned it like it was made in Italy. And Juelz’s Three Cheese Pizza has problems. It is not fully cooked and sags when Gordon tries to bring it to his mouth.

Quani, Zia & Sammy are the top 3. Grayson is safe as well.

That leaves Mikey and Juelz. The next young cook leaving the MasterChef Kitchen is … Juelz. ☹ He is teary eyed but he is happy when he gets a hug goodbye from all of his new friends😊.

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Episode 12 The top 15 enter the MasterChef Kitchen to find Mystery Boxes waiting at their stations. They lift them to find a wonderful protein – Shrimp! They must be properly cleaned for a shrimp dish of their choice. The first best dish belongs to Ariana. She made Fried Shrimp with Horseradish Dipping Sauce. She coated them beautifully and got nice color on the outside. When Christina cut into the shrimp is was glistening. “If this shrimp tastes as good as it looks, Ariana, you are going to be tough to beat.” The next best dish belongs to Cade. He made Cajun Seasoned Shrimp with Melted Butter. The butter is amazing and Chef Aarón loves how the spice wakes up the palate. Gordon says, “It’s a good dish Cade, but I want to see you transform your dishes a bit more. Shows us what you have in you.” The last best dish belongs to Emily. She made Grilled Shrimp with Lime Marinade. Christina loves the grill marks and the acidity. The shrimp are sweet and delicious and Gordon loves them so much he takes two.

And the winner is … ARIANA!

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She gets to choose 6 kids to her on the balcony and avoid the Elimination Test. She picks Anthony, Cade, Emily, Mikey, Quani & Sophia. Gordon’s daughter Mattila arrives in the MasterChef Kitchen to demonstrate how to make her famous “Tilly Burger.” The kids pay careful attention and do their best with the replication challenge. Here’s how it turned out.
Grayson’s burger is nice and pink, the cheese is melty and the mushroom is cooked well. Unfortunately his fries are cut unevenly and some of them are under done. Maria’s burger is a little on the rare side, but it still tastes amazing. Gordon says, “I love how you bounced back when you realized the burger needed more cook time. You didn’t give up! Well done.” Sammy’s burger is very undercooked and the mushroom is soggy, but his fries are seasoned well and taste good. Ben’s burger is overcooked and very chewy. He nailed the cook on the mushroom which helps add moisture and his fries are awesome. Evan’s burger is spot on. He nailed the melt on the cheese and the mushroom is amazing. His fries are uniform, twice fried and perfectly seasoned. Evan hit a homerun with Tilly’s Burger Challenge! Gracie’s burger is a bit overcooked, but she cooked the mushroom nicely and the fries are crispy. Beni cooked her beef nicely and nailed the fries, but she overcooked the mushroom and it lost its juices. And sadly Zia’s burger is almost raw! The cheese disappeared and the mushroom and fries are soggy.

The second best dish belongs to GRAYSON!! And the best dish of the night belongs to EVAN!!!!

Ben, Zia and Sammy are in the bottom 3.

Ben and Sammy are safe, so the next one going home is … Zia. ☹ Zia is bawling but all the kids come down to comfort her. Even Christina comes over for the group hug. Evan tells her, “Hold your head up high. You are amazing in the kitchen and never stop cooking Zia!”

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My Fantasy MasterChef JR S6 x E7,8,9

Episode 7 The top 20 contestants will cook for guests at a café in a Team Challenge! Lindsay is the Blue Team Captain and she picks Anthony, Avery, Beni, Evan, Gracie, Grayson, Henry, Maria and Mikey.

Ben is the Red Team Captain and he picks Ariana, Cade, Emily, Juelz, Mackenzie, Quani, Sammy, Sophia and Zia. They will be making Artisan Burgers and Fried Fish with a side of French Fries.

On the Blue team Lindsay is getting flustered with the hectic pace of service and she is starting to break down. Evan steps in and tells the rest the team that unless it is an emergency they should talk to him. This way Lindsay can focus on cooking the fish. Evan also helps Henry when he sends out a raw burger. On the Red Team Ben sees that Emily is having trouble with the fries and he goes over and helps her make sure they are cut to the same size. Ben shows Emily how to use two fryers at once to speed up the cooking. Sophia drops cooked fish on the floor, but she doesn’t panic, she just cooks up another one fast. The winning team is … RED TEAM!!!

Back in the MasterChef Kitchen Lindsay gets to save 2 kids from the Pressure Test. She saves Maria and Evan. But Evan does not take the save. He says, “I don’t want a free pass into the balcony, I want to cook in the Pressure Test to show my skills.” So Lindsay’s next pick is Mikey and he takes it.

The 8 young cooks have to make Ribeye Steak & Frites. During the cook time Grayson burns his only steak and he needs a new one. Luckily, Evan brought more than one cut of steak from the pantry and he is willing to give one to Grayson. Evan finishes plating early so he offers to help Lindsay who has fallen behind and is running out of time. The judges say he can help if he wants to. Time is up.


Lindsay’s Ribeye looks amazing on the outside, but when Gordon cuts it open is blue inside. He says, “Your beef is minutes away from being put back in the field!” The fries are a bit soggy and the steak sauce is just ok. Evan’s Steak is cooked to perfection. Chef Aarón loves the spices he added to the steak. His fries are crispy and seasoned well and his sauce is the best. Beni’s Steak is cooked well and has a nice flavor, however her sauce is a bit too strong. Henry’s Steak is overcooked and chewy. He also forgot to season everything. Gordon is slightly disappointed in him. Avery nailed the cook on her Steak and fries. She says, “My sauce has a Texas kick to it.” Gracie cooked her beef just right, however some of the fries are burnt and the sauce it too spicy hot for the judges. Anthony’s Steak is a perfect medium, the temperature he trying for because he family likes to eat their Ribeye in the medium range. His fries are just as good as Evan’s, but his sauce is a bit too watery. And Grayson’s Steak is very undercooked and he forgot to put his sauce on the plate. But the Christina says everything is seasoned well and the fries are amazingly crisp.

Anthony, Avery, Beni and Evan had the 4 top dishes

. Then Henry and Gracie are sent to safety, leaving Grayson and Lindsay on the bottom.

Grayson is saved due to his delicious fries and that means Lindsay is going home. Before she goes she thanks Evan for help and gives him a big hug goodbye. 😊

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Episode 8 The Top 19 lift their Mystery Boxes to find lots of flags. They have to make a dish based on their heritage. The first best dish is Evan’s Costa Rican inspired Arroz Con Pollo. The chicken is cooked through and the it tastes delicious. The spice mix is exceptional. Chef Aarón gives Evan a high five and tells him, “Good Job!!” The next best dish is Sophia’s Hawaiian inspired Grilled Shrimp. She got the technically difficult cook right with nice color on the outside and still juicy on the inside. The last best dish is Mikey’s Italian inspired Sausage Stuffed Shells. His sauce is seasoned well and the homemade sausage is packed with powerful flavors.

And the winner is … EVAN!!! His 3rd win so far! He says “I think I made my family proud tonight!” He is in the top 18 and is sent to watch from the balcony.

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Everyone else has to make an Omelet. When time is up the judges check in on the classic egg dish and decide who is safe (YES) and who will go on to Elimination Round (NO). Sammy-Yes; Ariana-Yes; Beni-Yes; Ben-No; Mackenzie-No; Emily-Yes; Anthony-Yes; Quani-No; Zia-No; Sophia-Yes; Henry-Yes; Maria-Yes; Juelz-Yes; Mikey-Yes; Avery-Yes; Gracie-No; Grayson-Yes; & Cade-No. Ariana and Anthony are the top 2 in the Omelet Challenge.


The 6 kids who are not safe will make the egg dish all over again. Ben’s omelet is nice and fluffy and the seasoning is spot on. He really bounced back from the first one he made. Zia’s omelet is very puffed up and airy inside but it does not upset the taste at all. Cade’s omelet is a bit runny and it is burnt on the top, but it has good seasoning. Gracie’s omelet is cooked nicely and she nailed the seasoning. Quani’s omelet is a tad over seasoned, but it is very fluffy and tastes good. And Mackenzie’s omelet is under done and runny. Christina says she is reluctant to taste it because she can still see some of the gooey egg white.

Ben and Gracie are the top 2.

Zia and Quani are saved. And the last chef saved is …. Cade. This means Mackenzie is going home☹.

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Episode 9 The top 18 will cook for 101 kids at a youth soccer camp. They are making a healthy dish with grilled chicken, asparagus spears and roasted mushrooms. Ariana is the Red Team Captain. She picks Avery, Beni, Evan, Gracie, Mikey, Quani, Sammy & Sophia.

Anthony is the Blue Team Captain. He picks Ben, Cade, Emily, Grayson, Henry, Juelz, Maria & Zia.

On the Red Team Gracie cuts her finger chopping the mushrooms but gets it patched up quickly and is back at work in no time. Sammy and Quani overcook the chicken but Ariana help them start over and get the perfect grill marks. On the Blue Team Anthony is discombobulated by the pressure and doesn’t know what they are cooking when Gordon asks. Things are moving so fast they forget to put chicken on a plate before sending it out for service! Anthony pulls his team together, but is it in time for the Blue Team? Nope. RED TEAM WINS!


For the Pressure Test Anthony gets to choose between saving himself or 6 cooks from his tram. He chooses to save 6 of his friends: Zia, Maria, Juelz, Grayson, Emily & Cade.

That means Anthony, Ben and Henry will stay in the kitchen to bake a Chocolate Malted Lava Cake.

Ben’s cake is the absolute best. It rises all the way to the top of the ramekin and drops easily onto the plate. The chocolate inside is ooey, gooey delicious. Anthony’s lava cake sinks a bit and sticks on its way out. The chocolate lava tastes more bitter than sweet. And Henry’s cake pours out of the ramekin. It looks more like chocolate soup! But the taste is amazing. Christina says, “Maybe you have invented a new dessert soup!”

Ben is the first to be saved and Anthony is next.

Even though Henry’s tasted amazing it was not technically correct for a lava cake, so sadly, Henry is going home. ☹ All the kids come down from the balcony to give him big hugs is he walks out. 😊

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My Fantasy MasterChef JR S6 x E4,5,6

Episode 4 Ben, Ariana and Gracie go into a Mini Challenge to see who can make the most pancakes in ten minutes. Gracie makes 6, Ben makes 11 and Ariana makes12, so ARIANA wins! She is safe and in the top 22 and she gets to save either all the girls or all the boys from the Elimination Challenge.

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Ariana saves the girls and the 12 boys must cook Chicken & Waffles.

Evan’s Spiced Chicken & Waffles is amazing. The chicken is super crispy and flavorful and the waffles are nice and fluffy. Aarón says, “I’d put that dish on my menu in one of my restaurants.” Pierce’s chicken is way overcooked and lost its juiciness, but he nailed the waffles. Ben did a great job cooking both the chicken and waffles. Gordon says, “I like the smoky flavor you brought to the chicken. Bold move!” Henry added nice spice to the chicken, but the waffles taste a bit bland. Anthony over seasoned his chicken. Christina complained, “It’s just a ball of spice!” But his waffles are one of the best. Quani’s chicken is cooked well but lacks proper seasoning. Christina loves his maple waffles a lot. Sammy’s chicken looks amazing, it is nice and juicy and is seasoned beautifully. He also did a good job with the waffle. Gordon says, “You might just go all the way to the end of this competition young man. Well done.” Camson’s dish looks amazing but his chicken is bloody, it is inedible. and the waffle turns out very soggy.

Cade, Mikey and Grayson do well. The second best dish belongs to SAMMY! And the best dish of the night belongs to EVAN!!!

Sadly, Camson, Pierce & Anthony are in the bottom 3.

Anthony and Pierce are saved. So the second young cook going home is … Camson, due to raw chicken. ☹

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Episode 5 The top 22 young home cooks arrive at Knots Berry Farm for the first Team Challenge. They will cook lunch items for all the guests at the park! As Blue Team Captain Evan picks Emily, Sophia, Quani, Ariana, Maria, Ben, Beni, Juelz, Mackenzie & Gracie.

As Red Team Captain Sammy picks Anthony, Henry, Lindsay, Grayson, Pierce, Mikey, Zia, Olivia, Avery & Cade.

They will cook Burgers & Fries, Fish, Chicken Wings and Pizza. On the Blue Team Gracie is having trouble with the fish and she starts to cry, but Evan motivates her to keep trying by cheering her on. Quani and Beni forgot to oil the pans and the pizzas stick. Again, Evan is a good leader and helps them get new pizzas in the ovens. The Red Team serves undercooked chicken and burgers, but Henry quickly gets them cooked. Olivia and Anthony burn the crusts on the pizzas which loses the Red Team votes! In the end the winning team is … BLUE TEAM. The Red Team will go to a Pressure Test but first both teams get to stay and have fun at the theme park!

Back in the MasterChef Kitchen Sammy gets to save 3 chefs. He saves Henry, Mikey & Pierce.

The remaining 8 cooks have to bake Cinnamon Rolls. Sammy’s cinnamon rolls are baked to perfection and they are nice and chewy. Gordon says, “I’m glad you made these beauties and I like how you showed loyalty to your team by not saving yourself.” Unfortunately, Anthony’s cinnamon rolls are a bit burnt and too sweet. However, Christina says the topping is delicious. Grayson’s cinnamon rolls are hard to break apart but the taste is amazing. Avery’s cinnamon rolls are baked well but the spiced glaze she used is unexpected too strong. Lindsay’s cinnamon rolls are a tad under baked, but Christina loves the taste. Zia’s rolls are small but Gordon says, “I love them, they are just bite size.” Cade’s cinnamon rolls are baked amazingly but there is some parchment stuck on the bottom. And Olivia’s cinnamon rolls are hard as a rock and when Gordon gets a bite he can barely chew it!

 

The best cinnamon rolls belong to …. SAMMY!

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Grayson Zia, Cade, Lindsay and Avery are all safe. That leaves Anthony and Olivia .

Anthony is safe and the next young cook going home is … Olivia. ☹

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Episode 6 The top 21 open their Mystery Boxes to find a live crab!! They must make a crab dish in 60 minutes The first best dish belongs to Anthony with his Crab Cakes. Gordon thinks they are amazing, “ Welcome back to the game!” The next best dish is Grayson’s Crab Nachos. Aarón is impressed with Grayson handled the crab and was able to bring out the flavors in such a creative in such a creative way. “Who looks at crab and thinks pepper jack cheese and pickled jalapeños?” And the last dish belong to Sophia with her Baked Crab. The stuffing is delicious and the crab is still juicy.

And the winner is … GRAYSON !! He is safe and has won an advantage.

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The 20 other kids must make a dozen donuts in 60 minutes, but Grayson gets to give one chef half that time. He chooses the cook he believes is his toughest competition, Evan! Evan’s jelly topped donuts are baked well and he even filled them with peanut butter cream! Gordon loves them and says, “It takes a great chef to adapt to challenges and come up with an amazing product.” Ben’s donuts look amazing. The donut is light and fluffy and the chocolate filling is spot on. Zia’s donuts are a little too big, thus the tops look weird. But all 3 judges love the flavors. Henry’s donuts are under baked and the filling just disappeared, but Christina loves the crushed nut topping. Quani’s donuts are too flat, however they are some of the best tasting donuts of the night. Some of Gracie’s donuts are missing the topping and the filling is too sweet but Christina says, “The peppermint glaze that made it onto some of the donuts is so good, I want the recipe. Will it be enough to keep you in this competition?” Anthony’s donuts are glazed well but he put way too much filling in them. The judges can’t taste the donut itself. Ariana’s donuts are filled well, but the tops are drowning in heavy frosting. Pierce’s donuts look amazing but when Gordon takes a bite he spits it out in shock! “I think you used salt when you should have been using sugar my friend!” On top of that they are under baked. And Lindsay’s donuts are amazing. Gordon loves her spiced filling, “This is a very Lindsay type of dish. That says something.”

The second best box of donuts belongs to LINDSAY. And the best dozen donuts belongs to … BEN!

Sadly, Henry, Gracie & Pierce are in the bottom 3.

Gracie and Henry are saved. So the next young cook going home is …. Pierce. ☹ Pierce gets lots of hugs from his friends when he is walking out.

 

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My Fantasy MasterChef JR S6 x E1,2 and 3

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Episodes 1 & 2 auditions to find the top 24 young home cooks for Max’s Fantasy MasterChef Junior Season 6 reveal the same winners as the actual show. They are: Anthony, Ariana, Avery, Ben, Beni, Cade, Camson, Emily, Evan, Gracie, Grayson, Henry, Juelz, Lindsay, Mackenzie Maria, Mikey, Olivia, Pierce, Quani, Remy, Sammy, Sophia & Zia. The judges in this fantasy are Chefs Gordon Ramsay, Christina Tosi & Aarón Sánchez.

Episode 3 The top 24 young home cooks lift their mystery boxes to find 26 ingredients beginning with letters from A to Z. The winner of the challenge is safe from the Elimination Test. The first best dish belongs to Sophia with her Pan Seared Bass. Gordon loves the crisp on the skin. The second best dish belongs to Evan with his Rosemary Crusted Lamb Chops. Chef Aarón says the flavors remind him of his childhood. And the last best dish belongs to Ben with his Mini Chocolate Tart. The pastry is nice and flaky and Christina loves that he baked.

And the winner is …. EVAN! He is safe and in the top 23.

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The other 23 kids must bake a perfect Apple Pie. At the end of the 60 minutes the judges call down Ariana, Remy, Gracie, Anthony, Cade, Ben, Sophia and Grayson. The 15 cooks still at their stations are safe and join Evan on the balcony. Time for the tasting. Ben’s pie is baked well on the bottom, he cut the apples uniformly, and the top is nice and crispy. Christina says, “It tastes delicious!” Sophia’s pie is stuffed to the brim with apples and that upsets the cook of the pie, but she nailed the flavors. Anthony’s pie has almost no apples and the crust is way undercooked. Ariana’s pie looks amazing. She took the biggest risk using 3 different kinds of apples and it paid off, the taste is amazing. Cade did not cut his apples small enough and they cut into the top of the pie. Luckily, the judges still love the taste. Grayson’s pie looks a bit messy on top, but it cuts well and crust has a great crunch to it. Gracie’s pie is baked well and Christina loves her Granny Smith Apples. Everyone is happy she tried out to be on the show again. Remy’s pie looks great, but it is very wet. Gordon pours the extra juice into a cup and says the pie lacks flavor.

ARIANA, BEN & GRACIE have the top 3 pies of the night.

Anthony, Remy & Sophia are in the bottom 3.

The two young cooks who are safe are ……. Anthony & Sophia. Remy is the first young cook to go home. ☹

 

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MasterChef Jr 06×14&15

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The Finale Episode starts with the top 3 young home cooks, Beni, Quani & Avery, happily greeted by their previous competitors, friends and families. They will each cook three amazing appetizers, entrées and desserts to impress the judges and become the next MasterChef Junior Champion.

So what happen while the kids were cooking times? During the Appetizer Round Avery’s lobster get engulfed in flames and Gordon comes to help her get the fire under control!!! In the Entrée Round Quani is not watching his duck fat closely and the judges are worried it will over heat and burn his catfish. Joe shows him the temperature needs to be turned down. In the Dessert Round Quani’s pastry dough is too dry and his cooked tart shells are falling apart. Christina helps him keeps his composure, and ultimately he has to serve one tart still in the mold.

Time to talk about the food.

Avery’s appetizer is Grilled Lobster with Avocado Crema, Salsa De Tejas and Blue Corn Crisp. The lobster is beautifully cooked! Gordon says he can’t taste the effect of the grill because it was cooked with shell on. Christina likes brightness although maybe the dish has too many tomatoes. And Joe loves the balance between the rich lobster and acidity of the salad. It’s a great dish.


Quani’s appetizer is Grilled Spot Prawns with Crispy Grit Cake, Fried Green Tomato and Crab Chow-Chow. Visually it looks great. Gordon is glad he kept the prawn heads on. His prawn has great color and is cooked perfectly with crunch and texture. Christina loves each component on the dish, but her spot prawn is a little bit undercooked. Joe likes that the dish tells a story about where Quani comes from and how he thinks about food.

Beni’s appetizer is Smoked Salmon with Corn Blini, Pickled Radishes and Lemon-Herb Crème Fraîche. It is colorful and incredible. She successfully cured, smoked and seasoned the salmon in just 60 minutes. She got the balance just right and the combination of flavors is pleasing. The salmon is very rich and smoky. Gordon doesn’t like the raw radishes on the plate, and Joe agrees, but also says he would serve this appetizer in one of his restaurants. Excellent dish.

Avery’s entrée is Seared Ribeye Cap with Mustard Greens, Glazed Onions, Chimichurri & Bone Morrow Butter. The cook on the steak is spot on. It has a perfect char on the outside and nice and juicy on the inside. The flavor is amazing. Christina thinks there is too much butter and Gordon wants “more love” on the plate to stand up with the amazing protein.

Quani’s entrée is Duck Fat Fried Catfish with Spicy Greens, Pickled Okra & Corn Purée. The fish is absolutely fantastic. It is moist and tender and delicious. It is the best catfish Joe ever had in his life. Christina loves the bacon in the Rainbow Char and Kale. Gordon says, “You’ve elevated a catfish to the sea bass level and I’m going to use this … on my menu. Thank you Quani (x3).

Beni’s entrée is Grilled Veal Chop with Beet-Potato Fondant, Red Cabbage Sauerkraut and Mustard Cream Sauce. She nailed the cook on the veal, it is glistening and white. She rendered the fat well and the sauce is rich and hot. Christina calls it a beautiful dish. Gordon loves everything but the beet roots which are a little undercooked. “Great job young lady.”

Beni’s dessert is Deconstructed Apple Tartlet with Walnut Crumble, Apple-Brandy Cream & Cranberry Coulis. Gordon wants a deconstructed dessert to be better than the original and it is. Christina says it is perfect, “I love it!” Beni cooked the apples nicely. The tart shell is well baked and the dessert has the right amount of sugar and cinnamon. Joe says it reminds him of his grandmother’s desserts and Gordon licks his plate clean!!!

Quani’s dessert is Blueberry Tart with Marshmallow Meringue, Blueberries & Lemon Poppy Seed Tuile. Joe is a totally rude to Quani because his dessert is still in the pan. There are problems with the pastry shells crumbling and being uneven. However, the dessert is absolutely delicious. It is tart, has great body, and the marshmallow is wonderfully toasted. Gordon says, “You attempted something short of a miracle, I’m amazed you got it done. So, well done for not breaking down and disappearing. Thank you.”

And Avery’s dessert is Tres Leches Cake with Salted Carmel Sauce, Kettle Corn and Whipped Cream. It is rich, luscious, salty and sweet, but a little overbaked. The center is still gooey and moist. The caramel popcorn topping is the shining star of the dessert. The spicy cinnamon is a pleasant surprise. Gordon loves it and would have loved it more if it had soaked longer. Joe says it is a dessert that would sell.

After a long talk the judges pick the winner. They call the kids to the stage to switch places with the judges. And the winner is (drum roll) ………… BENI!!!!!!!!! She is shocked and ecstatic to win. Beni and hugs Quani and Avery and they hug her back. All of the other kids are cheering for her from the snowstorm of confetti!!! 😊
Beni says, “I won. I’ve been working so hard for this moment. I think that Avery and Quani did a really, really, really good job. They were such fierce competitors and they did not go down without a fight. I hope I have inspired kids out there to never stop following your dreams! Never give up and just do what you have your mind set to. I am the next MasterChef Junior!”

Quani says, “I’m really proud of Beni because she worked really hard for it. And I’m proud for myself, because I still got close to winning, but I just fell a little short.”
Avery says, “To be the youngest ever in the finale it really feels great and I think that this experience has been probably the best experience of my entire life.”

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This was a great MasterChef Junior Season and the kids were amazing. Just last week a bunch of the contestants: Anthony, Ariana, Cade, Camson, Evan, Gracie, Henry, Mikey, Pierce, Quani and Sammy went to Chicago to watch the finale with Beni. The friends got to spend a whole weekend of fun together. Pictures on social media showed how happy and excited they were to celebrate their friend Beni. Evan posted a great pic of himself hugging Beni after she was announced the winner. He said he was so happy and proud. 😊 I like how all the kids respect and care about each other. I hope they all keep cooking, and keep in touch!

P.S. If you are like me, it’s hard to say goodbye to all the young cooks we’ve been following all season. Keep an eye out for my upcoming Fun Fantasy version of this season’s players 🙂

 

MasterChef Jr 06×13

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The “Grandma Gordon” Semifinals Episode starts with the top 5 kid home cooks happily greeting their grandmothers. The judges are also dressed up as their own grandmas 😊 The challenge is to make a stunning dish inspired by family. The dish needs to impress their grandmothers and the judges. The winner gets a big advantage and the first spot in the 3-Way Finale!!!


Quani made Squid Ink Pasta with Spicy Puttanesca Sauce and Parmesan Crisp. Gordon says the sauce is really spicy and rich, but the real hero of the dish is the technically difficult squid noodles. The shrimp are a tiny bit over cooked, “But, I’m just pleased that you showed so many strings to your bow and you’re not a one trick pony. Because, you can bake, you can cook, and that dish is going to be tough to beat. Well done.


Mikey made Crab Stuffed Lobster Tail with Filet Mignon, Asparagus and Potatoes. The beef is cooked a perfect medium, like his grandmother likes it, but the veggies are a bit undercooked. The lobster is the star of the dish. Joe says, “Now that lobster could be a one way ticket to the finale. It is perfect. Perfectly cooked, flavored, tender and the crabmeat is the perfect supplement on top.”


Avery made Pan Seared Duck Brest with Garlic Mashed Potatoes and Cherry Port Sauce. The cook on the duck is impressive, the skin is rendered beautifully and the garlic potatoes add balance to the dish. Christina says, “Is this dish good enough to propel you into the MasterChef Junior Finale? It might be. Nice job.”


Remy made Pan Seared Scallops with Farro, Butternut Squash Purée and Apricot Sauce. Gordon likes the presentation but is confused about pairing two sweet ingredients, scallops and apricots. She nailed the cook on the scallops, but the farro is undercooked and the dish needs more acidity. “But here’s the thing, you’re really creative. I can always spot a Remy dish from a mile away, because you’ve got your personality on there. It’s a very strong effort. Thank you.”


And Beni made Crispy Skin Salmon with Polenta and Beets Three Ways. The salmon skin is very crispy, the fish is nice and flaky and seasoned beautifully. Joe likes two out of the three beet presentations, the chips and the purée are great, but the roasted beets needed more cook time. “Overall, an excellent dish!”


The winner of the Grandma Challenge, claiming the first spot in the finale is ….QUANI!!!! He also gets to select which fish (Salmon, Bass, Mackerel or Sardine) each remaining contestant will cook in the last Elimination Challenge. Quani assigns Salmon to Remy, Bass to Mikey, Mackerel to Beni, leaving Avery the dreaded Sardine. They have 45 minutes to make a restaurant quality dish. Two cooks will go to the finale and two cooks will be going home.


Beni made Vadouvan Spiced Mackerel with Cucumber-Yogurt Sauce and Cauliflower Couscous. Even though she has never cooked mackerel before, her result is amazing. Christina loves the taste of the fish, but wants more flavor in the yogurt sauce. Joe loves all the spice in the dish.


Remy made Miso Glazed Salmon with Fried Salmon Skin and Carrot Ginger Purée. The dish looks stunning. Gordon says, “Oh dear, Remy, Remy, Remy, … That is pink perfect salmon. Wow!” The glaze and the crispy skin are great, but the carrots a bit undercooked. Christina also loves the dish, but disagrees with Gordon about the soba noodles. She thinks the noodles need more flavor and more acidity.


Mikey made Pan Seared Bass with Potato Lasagna, Arugula Pesto, Tomato Vinaigrette and Pancetta. The plate has a lot going on and he nailed the cook on the fish. The pesto is fragrant and delicious, the tomatoes are blistered, the pancetta is crisped, however Gordon and Joe disagree on the potatoes. Joe likes them, they remind him of Italy. Gordon thinks the cream is too heavy for the dish.


And Avery made Stuffed Sardine with Carb, Spinach, Fennel Salad and Lemon-Caper Butter Sauce. Gordon thinks it is one of the best dishes she cooked in the competition. She elevated the least exciting fish and nailed every element on the plate. Joe says, “You took something of low value and added value by your technique. You were able to create something that was smart, delicious and beautiful.”


The Best Fish Dish and next spot in the Finale goes to … eight-year-old AVERY!!!
The Second Best Fish Dish and last spot in the Finale is … nine-year-old BENI!!!


That means Mikey & Remy are going home. ☹ Christina says, “Remy, Mikey, you’ve both have achieved so much in your own right. Remy, I know we’re going to see great things of you. That much talent packed into a twelve-year-old is mind blowing to me. And Mikey, you have an incredible palette. The visual impact that you put on a plate is skilled decades beyond your years.” Beni, Quani and & Avery cheer for them and hug them goodbye before they go. 😊


12-year-old Remy from New York City says “I am really sad to be going home, but I gave this competition all I got and I had the best experience of my life. It’s not goodbye, it’s see you later. This may be the end of my culinary journey in the MasterChef Jr Kitchen, but I’m going back to New York City and cook, cook and cook!”

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10 year old Mikey from Clarendon, IL says “I leaned so much over this whole experience and I’m going back to Chicago feeling like a professional chef. I’ve done so much in these 10 years that I’ve been alive, but making it to the Semi Final of MasterChef Jr is such a cool accomplishment and it’s just awesome.”

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MasterChef Jr 06×12

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The “Pop Up Restaurant” Episode starts with the top 6 kid home cooks traveling in convertibles to a mystery site for their next team challenge. They will be cooking for 29 former MasterChef Jr contestants and Mikey, who wears the golden apron. The judges have selected the teams. Oliva captains the Blue Team with Remy & Evan. And Quani captains the Red Team with Beni & Avery. They will be preparing Branzino with Chorizo, Clams, Mussels and Polenta.

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The captains have to take charge of preparation of food for service. Quani says, “Out of the gate, I do not want to be too bossy, but I don’t want to be too laid back. I want the Red Team to get along and communicate and have fun, and then we can definitely win together.” Right from the start Remy and Oliva struggle with who is in charge. Big sister Remy is having a hard time letting little sister Olivia take control. Evan says, “I’m so confused. Who is the Team Captain? Is it Remy or is it Olivia?”

As a huge MasterChef Junior fan since Season One, it’s exciting to see the guests arrive. Previous winners Alexander, Logan, Nathan, Addison and Jasmine are the first to be seated. We also get a glimpse of Season 1 contestants Dara & Sarah. Season 2 contestants Samuel, Natalie, Levi, Abby, Mitchell, Sean & Josh. Season 3 contestants Andrew, Riley, & Jimmy. Season 4 contestants Avery, Kya & Ian. And Season 5 contestants Justise, Shayne😊, Syd, Cydney, Afnan, Peyton, Mashu, Donovan & Lila.

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The Red Team starts off strong and gets the first three dishes out on time. The Blue Team has trouble getting their dishes to the Winner’s Table. Olivia falls behind with the shell fish and has a small meltdown. Christina takes her aside and tells her she can do it. Olivia finds her voice and is able to pull it together for the Blue Team.

Joe asks the kids at the Winner’s Table how the food tastes. Jasmine says, “I think the Blue Team is doing a really good job. The fish is nice and crispy, the polenta is super creamy.” Nathan says, “For the Red Team’s dish, the fish is seasoned and cooked perfectly. The polenta seems a bit under seasoned.” Addison agrees.

Quani is having trouble cooking the polenta for the Red Team and the diners are noticing it. Lila says, “…the polenta cakes are not as good as I would like them to be, I’d like mine to be a little crisper.” But Samuel says, “The Red Team’s branzino is super crispy and it’s also wealthy.” Ian agrees, “I like it.” Levi says, “I think that the fish is cooked nicely, but could use a little more seasoning.”

Meanwhile, Shayne “The Train” says, “I’m eating the Blue Team food. And I love the fish, I mean, it’s cooked perfectly. I really love the polenta. I think it’s nice and crispy.” But Abby’s Blue Team fish is cold and Kya says, “The fish is dry and it’s really salty on top.”

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In the end the RED TEAM wins by a tiny margin! That means Evan, Remy & Olivia are in the dreaded Pressure Test and only one will be going to the semi-finals.

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Season 5 Champion Jasmine joins them in the MasterChef Kitchen to introduce the next challenge, French Macarons, delicate almond flour cookies with creamy filling. Jasmine talks about the MasterChef Junior Cookbook, which I know includes Season 3 Winner Nathan’s Banana and Salted Caramel Macaron on page 232. 😊


During the cook time Olivia runs out of meringue batter for her cookies and starts to melt down. Eventually, Gordon comes to her station to help her calm herself, reorganize and make more. Olivia is able to regroup with his help, stay determined and get her cookies finished in time.  Time is up.

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Evan’s caramelized banana dulce de leche French macarons with flambéed buttercream have a great crunch on the outside and Gordon is impressed with the flambé idea. He says, “Wow! The flavor inside, you’ve got absolutely spot on!” But the tops are not smooth. Gordon holds the cookie to his face and says, “Now your macarons look like me, and the perfect macaron should be like your cheeks here, nice and smooth.” The cookies taste great but could have a better complexion.


Remy’s green tea macaroons with green tea matcha buttercream and strawberry coulis look very smooth but some of them have lost their footing. They should have been in the oven for another minute and a half,  but the filling is done well and Christina says they taste “incredibly delicious … it’s unique flavor, it’s unique in approach. … I’m impressed. Nice job.”


Before Joe judges Oliva’s cookies he tells her he admires how she bounced after struggling during the challenge. Her raspberry macarons with raspberry coulis and lemon zest buttercream have very nice color, but they have a rough surface with points. When Joe bites into one there is a nice crunch and he says, “I tell you what, your coulis is nice and tart, not too sweet. Cream is rich, but complex. They are very subtle, they have a couple issues in their aesthetic. But I like it. A lot of finesse, Olivia. Really good young lady.”

Sadly, Evan is sent home first. 😦  Christina says, “Evan, you’ve been an incredible example to everyone in this kitchen. You continue to push yourself and raise the bar.” Gordon adds, “Evan, there’s something inside you that really connects beautifully with food and you can’t buy that. I hope you continue cooking. You’ve been amazing.” 😊
11 year old Evan from San Diego says “I’m really sad that I’m going home but I will never forget this experience. You know what they say in Costa Rica? “Pura vida” that’s means “good life.” I had a great life in the MasterChef JR Kitchen!”

And the sister going to the semi-finals is Remy, that means Olivia is going home. Christina says, “Olivia, you’ve been incredible.” And Joe says, “The greatest thing I saw tonight, quite frankly wasn’t a macaron. Olivia, your comeback in that moment showed incredible strength of character. And if we could give the prize for courage and tenacity, Olivia you won that hands down.” 😊 Olivia says “I am really proud of myself because I think I grew as a chef and as a person. I learned about working together as a team. I learned about leadership, and I’ve learned about never giving up. I think MasterChef is all about mastering cooking, but I think it’s also about mastering your whole entire life. I’m sad to be leaving this competition, but I’m also sad to be leaving my sister. We’re best friends, we share a bedroom with each other. We share clothes with each other. We share bows with each other. I love her so much, so I really want Remy to win for New York and for me.”


I liked this episode a lot because I got to see some of my fav chefs again, like Nathan, Logan and the one-and-only Shayne “The Train!” But I was also sad to see Evan go, and felt like his leaving was a bit overshadowed by the separating sisters drama. I wish he was given a more proper goodbye. I want to say Evan is my favorite home cook this season. I cried a bit when he left, and no matter what he is a winner in my heart. He is such an amazing chef and friend. Evan inspires me with his cooking, but also with the caring he shows by cooking food for refugees from Africa and helping to build a school in Peru. He does lots of charity events which shows he puts others before himself. Evan says it is very important to help others and he will always be there if you need a friend. MasterChef JR contestant, Lindsay [@zesty.chef.lindsay] Instagram post said that Evan was the most selfless kid on the show. And that is what I am giving him my

MasterChef Amazing Human Being Award!

I hope Evan keeps cooking. I know he will be a great chef one day. Check out all the great things he is up to at https://www.evanestrada.com/about-margot/   🙂