Under The Big Top

The top 20 young home cooks arrive at Circus Vargas for the first Team Challenge. (FYI Circus Vargas became animal-free in 2010 😊) They will be cooking for the performers and crew, including the clowns! The teams are picked randomly based on where the kids sat. Evie is Blue Team Captain, leading Jayden, Nayeli, Talulah, Rhashad, Matthew, Reid, Ben, Brielle & Kyle. Che is Red Team Captain, leading Malia, Jaala, Sadie, Aaron Ivy, Kate, Mateo, Tal & Ashely. They have 45 minutes to prep and 60 minutes to serve 51 plates to Circus Vargas!

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On the Blue Team Evie struggles communicating with her team who are not listening to her commands. When she can’t get them to gather for a meeting she asks for Jayden’s help and tells her team, “I find it a little ironic, because nobody’s listening to me about coming to a meeting that’s about not listening to me.” She says it is hard being the Captain of 9 kids. But Christina tells her “the hardest parts of life are where you grow the most” and helps Evie pull it back together. She assigns eight year old Reid to take over cooking the steak all by himself!

On The Red Team Che has things well in hand, but Mateo decides to leave his job with the tomatoes and instead help manage the stations. “I’m trying to go around, help, not be bossy. But I’m trying to be like, a Co-Captain, like a CEO of a business.” Suddenly everyone is leaving their stations and the team gets all mixed up just before service is to start!!! Che says, “All of a sudden we are not acting like a Red Team, we are acting like Red Individuals.”

The Blue Team’s dish is a New York Strip Steak with Sweet Potato Mash and Baby Vegetables. Christina compliments Reid’s cook on the steaks and Aarón says, “You’re rocking and rolling with the steaks. You’re cooking steak like a pro!”

The Red Team’s dish is a Pan-Seared Salmon with Orzo and Tomato Vinaigrette. They fall behind during service and send up salmon raw. Gordon gets upset and slam dunks undercooked portions into the clown-trash-can-mouth! Tal says, “That salmon exploding, that is symbolic of our team right now. We are falling apart.” Gordon helps Che get everyone back to their stations and they get a system going to finish service.

In the end the Winning Team is … BLUE TEAM!!!!

The judges decide that Che, Ivy and Malia earned their safety from the pressure test. They join the Blue Team on the balcony.

The 7 remaining young home cooks have 90 minutes to bake and decorate a beautiful birthday cake. Christina describes what needs to be happen. “First you have to get those layers of cake made. You gotta get that batter going; cream your butter, your sugar, add your eggs, add your milk, add your flour, your salt, and of course your baking powder, otherwise your cake won’t rise. Get those in the oven and while that cake is baking you go for the frosting. The fillings – what are going to do to amp it up? What are going to do to stand out? How are you going to tell us your story?”

When time is up the young bakers bring their cakes forward for tasting!
Gordon says Sadie’s Pink Champagne Cake with Rose Buttercream and Raspberry Jam is “a work of art.” The layers are amazing. “That’s worth $25 a slice!” He would have liked a touch more jam in the middle, but overall, well done.

In his own words, Tal’s family story inspired Brooklyn Blackout Cake with Espresso-Chocolate Frosting and Chocolate Ganache looks “a bit raggedy”. Christina tastes it and is sorry to say the frosting is super dry and the flavors are just okay. Unfortunately it is just an average cake, maybe not enough to stay in the competition. ☹

Aaron is a 10 year old from Powder Springs, GA. His bright yellow Blueberry Lemon Cake with Lemon Frosting looks wonderful. Chef Aarón loves the frosting and perfect balance between the sweetness of the berries and the sourness of the lemons, but finds the cake a bit underdone and gummy.

Mateo made a Vanilla Sponge Cake with Chocolate Buttercream and a Cupcake. It looks really good. Gordon says, “That is delicious.” The sponge is nice and light and the frosting is soft and creamy. One note, it could have used some fruit to cut through the richness.

Kate made a Tie Dye Cake with Raspberry Frosting. Christina loves the tie dye effect, “It really pulls you in!” The taste is delicious she nailed the raspberry frosting, “it’s bright , it’s punchy, but next time give me a little bit more frosting.”

Jaala, an 11 year old from Pawtucket, RI made a Vanilla Galaxy Cake with Buttercream Frosting. Aarón says, “It’s visually fun, it’s out there, it’s wacky!” Inside the differently colored layers are impressive but the taste is a little disappointing. No one flavor stands out, it tastes more like sugar and coloring.

And finally, Ashely’s 4 Berry Cake with Coconut-Cream Cheese Frosting is visually appealing but something she has never baked before. Gordon applauds her taking the risk, but sadly the sponge is very dense and the layers are sliding back and forth because there is too much coconut cream in her frosting! Gordon says, “Here’s the good news, what you’ve done with the four berries is beautiful. But they might have been better as a jam in the center and let the sponge be nice and light.”

SADIE, AARON, KATE and MATEO have the top 4 cakes. Sadie’s cake is judged the best.

That leaves Tal, Ashley & Jaala and the one who is safe is … Jaala. That means Tal and Ashely are going home. ☹ They get cheers and applause from their friends as they leave. Someone calls out, “I love you.”


Tal from Port Washington, New York says “Tonight I’m going home with a smile on my face, with my head held high. What other 13 year old can say that they’ve gotten to the top 20 of MasterChef Junior? Even though I’m going home now, I’m gonna keep traveling, eating, learning, cooking and doing everything I can to make myself better each and every day.”  🙂

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Nine year old Ashely says, “I’m just a girl from Queens, New York, and I’ve cooking in the MasterChef Kitchen. I mean that’s a big deal. My mom always tells me that when one door closes another one opens. So, hopefully this just opens another door for me.” 🙂

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“Going Bananas”
Tonight’s culinary challenge is to make a perfect Banana Split Dessert. 12 lucky young home cooks are randomly placed into color teams of four while 12 are sent straight to the balcony to await the Elimination Challenge. The Yellow Team is Ashley, Ben, Matthew and Tal. The Pink Team is Malia, Sadie, Jayden and Brielle. The Green Team is Rhashad, Kyle, Shannen and Thomas. The catch is — all four are tied together at the ankle while making as many banana splits as possible in fifteen minutes. Each team will have to work together and coordinate their movements to get the job done. The winning team will be safe from the Elimination Challenge.

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YELLOW TEAM wins with 8 Banana Splits! The winners cover the judges with whipped cream and frosting and pelt them with sprinkles. Messy! Messy! Messy with a cherry on top!


Time for the Elimination Test! The remaining eight: Sadie, Rhashad, Jayden, Malia, Thomas, Shannen, Brielle and Kyle have to make a dish with LIVE LOBSTER!!! They have one hour to kill, cook and extract the lobster meat all by themselves. Several of the kids are freaked out.


During the cook time Malia cuts her finger but it gets patched up and she is good to go. She says, “I’m not going to let just a little cut stop me from cooking.” 😊 She impresses the judges when she uses her lobster shell as a taco holder. Thomas has never cooked lobster before and struggles with time. He tries to get his Lobster Roll perfect but struggles to get everything on the plate. Just in time he finishes and time is up.



Malia made Lobster Taco with Sweet Potato Wedges, Slaw and Avocado Crema. Aarón says, “You know that tacos is kind of my thing? And I’m looking at this dish that you presented, and you know the first feeling I have? Is jealousy.” When he tastes the taco he does the taco dance. She hit it out of the park.


Shannen also made Lobster Tacos with Carrot Chips. Christina says the tacos are chock full of lobster, but the salsa is over puréed and the lobster itself is overcooked.


Sadie made a Lobster Cake with Avocado, Picked Onions and Tortilla Chips. Gordon thinks it is “absolutely delicious.” It has finesse and charm, and tastes rich and sweet.


Jayden made Lobster Rangoons with Sweet and Sour Sauce. Christina says his dish is clever but the dumplings are slightly underdone and the filling needs more lobster. “Don’t be stingy with the lobster in the lobster challenge!”


Brielle made Lobster Pasta with Fresh Tomato Sauce. Aarón says the pasta is delicious and the lobster is cooked well, but the cheese doesn’t work. “Seafood doesn’t like cheese, but good job young lady.”


Thomas made a Lobster Roll and Fried Jalapeños. He says jalapeños are a big part of the culture in Texas and he wanted to show the judges where he comes from. Gordon likes the lobster and mango combination, but thinks there is too much hot pepper.


Rhashad made Caribbean Lobster with Curry rice and Coconut Jerk Sauce. The dish looks beautiful. Aarón says, “This plate is as buttoned up and fashionably cool as you are.” 😊 And the dish is unbelievable, he nailed the lobster and the heat in the spice is well balanced with the creaminess of the coconut milk.


And Kyle made Lobster with Orzo, Roasted Asparagus and Lemon Beurre Blanc. His lobster is cooked beautifully, but it is hidden on the plate and his sides miss the mark. Gordon is worried it might not be good enough.


The top 2 lobster dishes belong to MALIA and SADIE!


Thomas, Brielle, Shannen and Kyle’s dishes are in the bottom and the 2 who managed to stay in the competition are Kyle and Brielle. Sadly, Thomas and Shannen are going home.☹


They gets lots of emotional hugs and well wishes as they are walking out. 😊Shannen says, “Even though I’m going home to Scarsdale, New York, I’m looking forward to showing my family what I have learned from here. I’m going to be the chef in the house now.”Thomas says, “I definitely don’t want to go home, but I’m still one of the top 22 junior chefs in all of America. I beat so many kids getting here, I bet no one in my school has ever done anything like this before. I’m still going to keep cooking, and I know I definitely made Texas proud.”



After nationwide tryouts the top 24 young home cooks selected to compete in the MasterChef Kitchen for are: Aaron 10, Ashley 9, Ben 11, Brielle 8, Che 12, Evie 11, Ivy 11, Jaala 10, Jayden 12, Kate 8, Kyle 11, Malia 11, Mateo 8, Matthew 8, Miguel 12, Nayeli 9, Neko 11, Reid 8, Rhashad 12, Sadie 12, Shannen 9, Tal 13, Tallulah 11 and Thomas 12. Chef Christina Tosi is back to judge with  Chefs Gordon Ramsay and Aarón Sánchez.

Eight year old Matthew from Livingston, NJ says, “I started cooking when I was three. The MasterChef Kitchen is so big, that equipment room can fit 100,000 stuffed animals and the pantry, don’t even talk about it, it’s the biggest thing on earth!” 😊

For the first Mystery Box Challenge they must make their signature breakfast dish. The 1st best dish belongs to Sadie, a 12 year old girl from Seattle, WA. She made Parmesan Egg Cups with Bacon, Chives and Sourdough Toast. The dish looks great and the eggs are cooked beautifully. The dish is seasoned well and has finesse.

The next best dish belongs to Ivy, a 11 year old girl from Altana, GA. She made French Toast and Scrambled Eggs with Gruyère Cheese, Bacon, Platanos and Berry Compote. Chef Aarón says it is a very proper breakfast dish with something savory and something sweet, texture and salt! He loves how the cheese is mixed well in the eggs.

And the last best dish belongs to Ben, a 11 year old boy from Morristown, NJ. He made Japanese Style Pancakes with Maple Bacon and Fruit. The pancake tastes so good! They are light and airy and the dish has nice color to it.

And the winner is (or should I say the winners are?) ALL THREE OF THEM!!!!
For the Elimination Test the kids will be making one of 3 school lunches a Quesadilla, Meatloaf or Chicken Tenders.

Sadie, Ivy and Ben decide among others: Neko, Mateo & Tallulah will be making Quesadilla; Kyle, Evie & Rhashad will be making Meatloaf; and Shannen, Miguel & Thomas will be making Chicken Tenders.
During the cook time Rhashad almost forgets to cook the meatloaf!!!! Gordon tells him, “We need to get that cooking cause I don’t know if the meatloaf is going to be cooked on time.”

When the time is up the judges pick the top 3 dishes right away and they belong to EVIE, TALLULH & THOMAS!!

Now for the tasting of the dishes that the judges have questions about. Mateo’s Quesadilla with Lemon-Lime Rice and Black Bean Purée has a nice char on it. The chicken and cheese are melted well together and the tortilla has a great texture.

Rhashad’s Meatloaf with Mashed Potatoes and Green Bean is cooked inside but is a bit gray. Gordon likes the flavors of the beans and potatoes but is not happy about the burnt chives and bland meatloaf.

Neko’s Chicken Quesadilla with Rice and Beans is problematic. Christina complains the tortilla is almost empty inside!!! And there is not nearly enough cheese. ☹

Miguel’s Chicken Tenders with Sautéed Corn and Red Mashed Potatoes looks unfinished. Gordon says the color on the chicken is uneven, but the tender is cooked well. Unfortunately, the mashed potatoes are undercooked and the corn lacks “spirit.”

Kyle’s Meatloaf with Gravy and Saffron Mashed Potatoes is not perfectly square, but it is cooked well on the inside. Aarón loves the mashed potatoes but thinks the dish needs seasoning. “The flavors don’t match up to how much work you put into the presentation, but, you took a lot of risks and that is what gets you far in this competition.”

Shannen’s Chicken Tenders with Corn, Potato Chips and Ketchup are impressive. Christina wants more personality in the dish.

Miguel, Rhashad and Neko’s dishes are in the bottom. The young home cook who is safe is … Rhashad. 😊

And sadly, that means Miguel and Neko are going home. All of the kids give them big hugs as they exit. 😊 Miguel says, “Even though I am going back home to Atlanta, GA I beat thousands and thousands of kids to get a white apron and that’s awesome.” And Neko says, “I’m sad to be ending my MasterChef journey, but Gordon, Christina and Aarón taught he to follow my dreams, so I know my bakery in San Antonio is gonna be in my grasp in no time.” 😊

My Fantasy MasterChef Jr Season

My Fantasy MasterChef Jr Season takes place in early 2017 between the actual Seasons 6 and 7. Gordon, Christina and Aarón are my judges. It begins with 24 young home cooks from previous kids cooking shows. I had fun imagining the cooks doing the challenges and making friends. After a long break from writing due to injury it has been a great way to get back to my blogging recaps before the next season of MasterChef Jr begins on March 12th. I hope you enjoy reading my fantasy season as much as I enjoyed writing it!

The contestants (age) from Chopped Junior are: Bri 13, Charlie 13, Denali 10, Dylan 14, Daniel 14, Elizabeth 13, Hannah 13, Jada 11, Janie 13, Jimmy 14 , Joshy 13, Katia 13, Kemp 13, Lilah 13, Mason 13, Mulan 11, Peggy 12, & Talia 13. The contestants from Stove Tots are Aylanie 12, Chase 13, Devlyn 13, & Nathan 14. And the contestants from Kids BBQ Championship are Josie 13 & Tyler 13.

Episode 1

The top 24 cooks run into the MasterChef Kitchen for the first Mystery Box Challenge. They lift the boxes and find younger pictures of themselves. The challenge is to cook the first dish they remember cooking by themselves. This is going to be fun. When time is up the judges look over all the dishes to find the three best. The 1st best dish belongs to 12 year old Peggy. She made her grandmother’s famous Butter Cookies. They have nice flaky layers and are baked well. Christina loves them so much she asks if she can add these little doohickeys on the menu at Milk Bar. Peggy says they can talk about it later. The 2nd best dish belongs to 13 year old Mason. He made Cheeseburger Spaghetti. It is nice and creamy and the added pickle gives it a nice kick. Gordon says his did not think the recipe was going to work, but Mason proved him wrong. The 3rd best dish best dish belongs to 12 year old Katia . She made a surprising sophisticated grilled Lamb Chop. The meat is nice and pink and Chef Arron loves the spice mix. To everyone’s shock the winner is … ALL THREE COOKS! PEGGY and MASON and KATIA! The judges could not pick one dish, so all three will get an advantage going forward.

There were four dishes that just didn’t work. They belong to Jimmy, Nathan, Josie and Lilah. All the other kids are safe. The bottom 4 must make Steak & Fries. This Elimination Challenge will see 2, 3 all 4 cooks go home! During the cook time Josie burns her meat and has to start all over again. When Jimmy is running out of time he rips the meat with his hand and throws it on the plate. Time is up. The cook on Nathan’s steak is spot on and the seasoning is amazing, but the fries are too crispy. Lilah’s dish looks perfect, but when Gordon cuts into the steak it blue raw! Her fries are done well. Josie’s beef is a bit overcooked but it has spectacular seasoning and taste. And Jimmy’s dish is kind of a mess. Gordon says, “What happened here? It looks like it was mauled by a bear!” The meat is undercooked and has so much pepper Gordon can’t even swallow it! Jimmy’s fries are soggy! Nathan is the first saved and the next one safe is … Josie. This means Jimmy and Lilah are going home. ☹

Episode 2
The episode starts with Mason, Katia, and Peggy competing in a mini challenge. The young cook to make the most perfectly poached eggs in ten minutes will not have to compete in the next Elimination Challenge and will be allowed to save 11 others. Not an easy challenge, as even professional chefs can have trouble perfectly poaching an egg. PEGGY wins with 16 eggs! She is safe and saves Talia, Chase, Kemp, Joshy, Tyler, Josie, Denali, Aylanie, Bri, Daniel and Mulan. They happily gather on the balcony to celebrate and cheer.


The 10 remaining kids must make a dish with live lobster! Hannah gets a bit freaked out and accidently cuts her finger instead of the lobster shell! When she goes with the medics Mason goes to her station to get her finished lobster on the plate. Time is quickly up. Mason made a Lobster Thermidor. He is worried it is too simple. Gordon says, “I would rather have a simple dish done well than a complicated dish that doesn’t work.” Mason’s lobster is seasoned well and cooked perfectly. Gordon likes the heat from the mustard sauce. “Great job!” Hannah’s Stuffed Lobster Tail looks messy and has almost has no meat in it. Christina says, “It almost looked like you shut down during the challenge. Have you given up?” Hannah says she absolutely has not. Luckily the meat she did get into the stuffing was tender and delicious. Janie’s lobster meat was luscious and tasty, but Aarón found a bit of shell on the plate. Devlyn nailed the cook on his Grilled Lobster but Gordon felt it lacked sufficient seasoning. Dylan’s Boiled Lobster is slightly undercooked but tastes delicious with the seasoned butter sauce. Katia’s Spiced Lobster is amazing. Aarón says, “You really nailed the spices here. I wonder if you’d would share your recipe? I’d love to put this dish on my menu!” Katia is all smiles. Charlie’s Lobster Tail looks amazing but it is so underdone the judges can’t eat it. ☹ On the other hand, Nathan’s dish looks sloppy but he nailed everything on the plate. Jada’s Lobster Casserole looked promising, but Christina is disappointed. “You did a great job developing texture and flavor, you cooked the lobster meat perfectly, but I’m sorry to tell you there is just too much pepper. It overtakes the dish.” And finally, Elizabeth’s Lobster Stir-fry misses the mark. Gordon says, “I’m not sure where you go the idea for this dish young lady, but I’m sorry to tell you that it just doesn’t work. Too many ingredients, not enough of the star, not enough lobster.” The judges decide that the 2nd best dish belongs to KATIA and the best dish belongs to MASON!

Elizabeth, Dylan, Charlie and Hannah’s dishes are least successful and the 2 who are safe are … Dylan and … Hannah. Sadly, that means Charlie and Elizabeth’s time in the MasterChef Kitchen has come to an end, they are going home.

Episode 3

For their first team challenge the top 20 will cook for 101 US Marines. Mason is the Captain of the Red Team and as winner of the last Elimination Challenge get first pick. He chooses Hannah, Aylanie, Mulan, Devlyn, Dylan, Chase, Jada, Janie & Denali. Mason says, “It is very important to me to win this challenge because my dad is a soldier.” As Captain of the Blue Team Katia chooses Kemp, Josie, Peggy, Joshy, Daniel, Tyler, Talia, Bri & Nathan. Team members decide the Red Team will cook Ribeye Steak and the Blue Team will cook Chicken Breast. The judges are worried about Blue Team’s choice because that cut dries out very quickly. On the Red Team Dylan and Chase burn some steaks but Mason saves them by cutting off the burned ends and serving two smaller steaks instead of one larger portion. Gordon says, “Now that is thinking on your feet! Good job chef!” On the Blue Team a chicken breast is sent back raw. Tyler did not cook it enough, but Bri steps up and quickly recooks it. The soldiers decide by vote that the winning team is … THE RED TEAM!!! That means the Blue Team is in the Pressure Test.

Back in the Masterchef Kitchen, Captain Katia gets to save 3 kids, including herself, from the Pressure Test. She picks Bri, Talia and Daniel. The remaining 7 kids have to make an Apple Pie. During the cook time Josie’s pies burns and she does not have time to make a new one!! Time is up. Katia’s pie looks amazing. It has a great crust and the apples cooked down well. All the judges love the flavor. Christina says, “You did an amazing job here.” Josie’s pie crust is burnt, the apples are cut way too thick to soften and the pie bottom is undercooked . Peggy’s pie looks a bit messy but all the taste is there. Nathan’s pie looks amazing and tastes great, but it has too much extra sugar sprinkled on top. Kemp apologizes that the apples are bursting up out of his pie. “I’m sorry, but I’m not really into baking.” Gordon says, “Let’s get one thing right, this pie is a disaster to look at. Whether you fancy yourself a baker or not, you need to be able to execute any dish we ask you to make, or be ready to go home.” Joshy’s pie crust is light and flaky and Christina loves the taste of cinnamon inside. Tyler’s pie looks pretty good but when Aarón cuts into it he finds the apples are undercooked and the bottom crust is almost raw. “Tough break, dude. This pie needed more time in the oven.” Katia, Joshy, Nathan and Peggy made the best 4 pies of the night! Kemp, Josie and Tyler’s pies are in the bottom. Josie is saved first, leaving Kemp and Tyler. Sadly, the young chef going home is … Tyler. ☹

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Episode 4

The top 19 will be cooking with live shrimp for the Mystery Box. The 1st best dish belongs to Bri. She nailed the cook on her Grilled Shrimp. The judges love the grill marks. The 2nd best dish belongs to Nathan. His Fried Shrimp with Panko bread crumbs are well seasoned and taste amazing. The 3rd best dish belongs to Denali. His Classic Shrimp & Gritts are plated with pizazz and all the flavors are there. And the best dish belongs to NATHAN!!

The other kids will have 60 minutes to create an elevated chicken and potato dish in the Elimination Challenge. Nathan gets to give one cook 40 minutes, one cook 35 minutes and one cook just 30 minutes to make their dish. He gives Bri the 40 minutes. He gives Devlyn 35 and Mason gets the 30 Minutes! In the end Mason’s dish does not have the best plating, however the sautéed chicken is perfectly cooked the potato gnocchi’s in brown butter are to die for. Aarón says, “I don’t know how you pulled off this dish in just 30 minutes. A little more time and I’m sure your presentation would have been more pleasing.” Kemp’s Sweet & Sour Chicken is a bit overcooked however he nailed the cook on the mashed potatoes. Jada’s dish looks amazing. Her Chicken Confit with Fondant Potatoes are restaurant quality. Gordon says, “This is the best dish we have seen from you, young lady. Keep it up.” Bri was pressed for time and just got her Grilled Chicken and Fries on the plate. The dish is okay, but Christina says, “Your dish really suffers from a lack of seasoning. And I have to tell you, grilled chicken and fries is not very high end cooking.” Dylan nailed the cook on his Chicken Divan, but the potatoes are undercooked and a bit hard. Katia’s Jerk Chicken is very spicy. Gordon says, “Some palates might think this dish too spicy hot to enjoy. You have to be careful about adding too much spice. I like it though. It tastes pretty great.” Devlyn nailed the cook on his Chicken Culet. Aarón was surprised that the crust was made from potato. “This is a really creative dish here. The meat is nice and juicy. The crust is crisp and satisfying. There is something very special happening here.” Mulan’s Chicken Cacciatore is underwhelming. Not much flavor and the potatoes get lost in the sauce. Denali nailed the Roast Chicken and Potatoes, but Gordon asks, “Maybe the dish is a bit too simple?” Talia’s dish looks good on the plate, but the Poached Chicken is pink on the inside and the potatoes are drowning in melted cheddar cheese. JADA and DEVLYN have the top 2 dishes of the night.

Mulan, Talia and Bri are in the bottom. And ultimately, the one going home is … Talia. ☹


Episode 5

For the second Team Challenge the top 18 young cooks will make food for 101 guests at a professional baseball game. Devlyn is the Blue Team Captain and picks Janie, Katia, Bri, Joshy, Chase, Mulan, Nathan & Josie. Jada is the Red Team Captain and picks Mason, Peggy, Aylanie, Daniel, Dylan, Kemp, Hannah and Denali. On Jada’s team Aylanie puts up raw fish but Mason and Denali catch it, refire and save the team. On Devlyn’s team Josie is getting flustered under pressure and burns a whole batch of burgers! Devlyn and Chase help her calm down and focus. Josie cooks the next batch perfectly. And the winning team by 4 votes is … BLUE TEAM!!!

Back in the MasterChef Kitchen Jada gets to save 3 teammates from the Pressure Test. She picks Denali, Daniel and Mason. Mason is grateful, but gives his save to Peggy because he thinks she did really good during the challenge. Peggy is happy for the save. The remaining 6 cooks have to make Tacos. During the cook time Hannah’s shells are falling apart but Mason shares his extras with her. 😊 And Dylan panics when he drops his sliced beef on the floor, he does not know what to do! But Mason is there to help again and gives Dylan some of steak. Times is up!

Jada made good looking Fish Tacos. The white fish is cooked nicely and taste amazing. Mason made Spicy Street Tacos. They look incredible and taste delicious. The steak is tender and full of flavor. Gordon says, “This coleslaw is one of the best I’ve ever tasted. Well done!” Dylan’s Pork Tacos look sloppy, but more importantly the pork is overcooked and very dry. Aarón says, “The taco sauce is good Dylan, but it’s not enough to hide the problems with the pork.” Dylan is upset his dish did not work out. Mason puts his arm around him and he tells him, “It’s OK buddy.” Hannah’s Chicken Tacos are also messy, however she nailed the cook on chicken. Christina says, “I’m happy you were able to bounce back. This is a yummy bite!” Kemp’s Shredded Beef Taco is good but there is a problem. Gordon says, “The beef is nice and spicy, but why is there so little? It’s mostly lettuce! Is this a vegetarian taco?” And Aylanie’s Chicken Taco is a flop. Christina says, “It looks good on the plate, but then I take a bite and the chicken is hammered and the shell is very soggy. I know you can do better than this.” JADA, MASON and HANNAH’s tacos keep them in the competition.

Kemp is saved, leaving Dylan and Aylanie. The last cook safe is … Dylan, sadly, that means Aylanie is going home.☹

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Episode 6

The young home cooks enter the Masterchef Kitchen to find a sad faced Gordon who says, “Before we get started, I wonder if you have all noticed someone is missing? Unfortunately Joshy has fallen ill. He is going to be fine, but he had to go home and will no longer be competing.” The kids look surprised and say they will miss Joshy very much.


Gordon explains that the 16 remaining will cook in 8 teams of 2, working together to make a unique Surf & Turf dish. Devlyn & Chase, Nathan & Peggy, Bri & Kemp, Mason & Jada, Josie & Daniel, Katia & Mulan, Dylan & Denali, and Hannah & Janie pair up and get straight to work.

Mason & Jada make a Lamb and Shrimp dish that looks restaurant quality. They work very well together to get a perfect medium rare lamb and succulent shrimp. Aarón says, “The flavors here are remarkable. This is a combination I have never seen, but it works!” Bri & Kemp make Steak with Spot Prawns. The Ribeye has a nice cook, but the delicate shell fish are over cooked. Chase & Devlyn made Fried Chicken and Shrimp. They breaded both items nicely and cooked them beautifully. Christina is full of praise, “The delicate breading is seasoned perfectly. This takes some skills.” Nathan & Peggy make Lobster Tail and Grilled Chicken but Gordon is confused. “They look sad and alone. Where are the other components? How does this dish fit together? I don’t get it.” Dylan & Denali make Salmon and Chicken Strips. The fish is a nice pink and the chicken is juicy. They did a good job together. Katia & Mulan did a great job on their Pork and Salmon dish. Gordon says, “I love how you took a risk with 2 big dishes and made them work together. Unexpected. Keep it up!” Janie & Hannah’s Beef Tenderloin and Scallops are mediocre. Christina says, “You started with primo ingredients here, but they lack seasoning and kind of bland. If you are going to go simple, it has to be perfect.” And finally, Josie & Daniel only got the steak from their Steak and Fried Clams plan on the plate. Aarón says, “Tough break. Did you have trouble working together? You only got the meat on the plate, and it is not even cooked, it is moo raw!”
MASON & JADA and CHASE & DELVIN are the top 2 teams of the night!!

3 other teams also did well enough to continue in the competition: Mulan & Katia; Dylan & Denali; and Janie & Hannah.

The 6 remaining kids have to whip up a Chocolate Soufflé and serve it when they think they have it right! The judges taste them without comment. In the end the best soufflé belongs to …. NATHAN!!


Kemp, Daniel and Bri are safe. That leaves Peggy and Josie, and the last one saved by their soufflé is … Peggy. Everyone is incredibly sad to see Josie go home.☹

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Episode 7

For the next Mystery Box the top 15 cook a first class burger. The 1st best dish belongs to … Katia. She made a Hot Pepper Burger it is cooked beautifully. Aarón says, “You did excellent work with the spice here. It is so good.” The 2nd best dish belongs to … Mason. He made a Double Cheese-Cheese Burger. Christina says, “The burger has the perfect temp on the inside and all this cheese is wonderful. The whole thing melts in my mouth. Just wow!” And the 3rd best dish belongs to Dylan. He made a Filled to the Brim Burger. The cook on the patty is spot on and the toppings taste amazing! Gordon says, “Pickles, cheese, peppers, potato chips! You’ve left nothing out, son! My son would love this burger!” But there can only be one winning burger, and today the win belongs to … MASON! Up to the balcony for a homemade Vanilla Shake and French Fries

Next, the judges call up Jada, Janie, Bri, Nathan, Chase and Kemp who have the weakest 6 burgers! Everyone else is safe! The 6 kids will make another burger and one of them will go home. Janie’s Mushroom and Cheese Burger is cooked very nicely. Christina says, “You nailed the cook on the mushrooms, which can be hard. I think you earned the right to stay, but we’ll see how the other burgers taste.” Unfortunately for Jada her Classic Cheese Burger is overcooked. Gordon breaks the news, “The bun is toasted perfectly. I like the bun. But I’m sorry to tell you the burger is tough, it’s too chewy. It might not be enough young lady.” Bri’s Texas Style Burger is good. Aarón says, “You got a great cook on the beef. A great bite. But I got to tell you, the dish itself is a bit sloppy. The competition is getting harder. Dishes have to look as good as they taste.” Kemp’s High Class Burger is also a bit overcooked, but he nailed the seasoning on the patty. Nathan’s Lamb Burger is just amazing. Gordon says, “Unexpected! You are the only cook who risked using a different meat. And lamb is tough, but your technique produced a nicely seasoned, surprisingly moist burger.” Chase’s Classic Style Burger looks great. Christina says, “If I were only eating with my eyes, this burger would be the winner. But it is raw on the inside. Disappointing.”☹ NATHAN and JANIE are the top 2 of this second round of burgers.

Bri and Kemp and … Jada are also safe, and sadly that means that Chase is going home. All the kid are cheering for him and Devlyn taps his chest and says “See you back in Houston, keep fighting.” 😊

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Episode 8

The top 14 will be cooking pork chops for 51 local chefs. As Captain of the Blue Team Janie picks Mason, Jada, Mulan, Hannah, Dylan and Katia. Nathan is the Red Team Captain and he picks Kemp, Denali, Daniel, Peggy, Devlyn and Bri. Cooking for chefs adds another level of nerves for the young cooks because they want to be sure to get everything right. But on the Red Team Daniel loses track of time and burns all the pork chops! Denali and Devlyn rush to refrigerators and pull out 50 new chops and start a massive refire. Meanwhile, Blue Team’s Mason and Jada are working well together again (remember the Surf & Turf challenge?) plating perfectly cooked chops like champs. The local chefs vote and the BLUE TEAM wins by a landslide. Gordon saves Red Team’s Denali because all the chefs really liked his sauce.

The remaining 6 kids will make a dozen donuts. Gordon asks who has made donuts before and everyone raises their hand but Devlyn. Gordon asks, “Do you think you are going to be the next to go home?” Devlyn answers, “Well Chef, I’ve made it this far. The answer will be in the food.” The kids on the balcony cheer and Gordon answers, “You’ve got that right. Excellent. Let’s get started.” The 6 bakers dig into the flour and sugar and before you know it, time is up.

Nathan’s Donuts are kind of flat, almost too flat to be donuts. However, the frosting is fluffy and the taste is there. Bri’s Donuts need more frosting but her chocolate donuts taste so good.😊 Daniel had trouble with time management and only got 3 donuts in his box! On top of that they are under baked and drowning with sprinkles. Devlyn’s Dozen look incredible. The donuts are light and moist and his homemade vanilla frosting is one of the best Christina has ever tasted.  Peggy’s Donuts are messy but they taste really good. Gordon says, “I don’t know young lady, I excepted a lot more from you. If you move forward I want to see you shine.” Kemp’s Dozen are a bit dense and overbaked. Luckily they still taste good. Aarón says, “They remind me of cake. I like cake. I don’t know if they are donuts, but I like them.” The Best Dozen Donuts belong to DEVLYN!!!


Bri, Peggy and Kemp are also safe. That leaves Nathan and Daniel. The last one safe is … Nathan. That means after a particularly difficult episode, Daniel is the next to go home. Everyone waves good bye, wishing him well.


Episode 9

The top 13 lift their Mystery Boxes to find breakfast ingredients, they will make their signature breakfast dish. The eggs were cracking. Aarón says, “Seeing all these eggs reminds me of the time Chef Graham was dressed like a chicken in the MasterChef Kitchen. Wild times!” The 1st best dish is Peggy’s Chocolate Chip Pancakes. Christina says, “The cakes are nicely browned, light and fluffy and you got just the right amount of melt on those chips!” The 2nd best dish is Jada’s Poached Egg. She nailed it. The egg yolk is nice and runny and seasoned well. Gordon says, “A very tasty dish. Simple, but well executed.” The 3rd best dish belongs to Denali. He made Mango Turnovers. Christina says, “For a pastry they are a bit messy, but the flaky crust is delicious and the mango is cut beautifully. Ambitious dish.” And the winner is … JADA!!! She is safe.

The other 12 kids have to make a dish starring pungent Blue Cheese. Jada gets to pick which kids have to make a sweet dish and who will do savory. Mason, Nathan, Dylan, Janie, Bri and Katia get savory and Peggy, Kemp, Devlyn, Mulan, Hannah and Denali get sweet. Mason made a Steak with a Blue Cheese Sauce. The meat is cooked perfectly and the taste of the cheese really stands out in every bite. Katia also tried steak and sauce, but she was less successful. “I hate blue cheese, I didn’t want to ruin my sauce with it, so I finally just dropped a glob of it on top.” Gordon says, “When you come into the Masterchef Kitchen you have to be ready to cook with any ingredient, even ones you have not learned to like.” Dylan’s Mac and Blue Cheese is very simple, but at the same time, it is very good. Janie’s Cheese Burger is overcooked and the Blue Cheese is not really the star. Devlyn’s Cheesecake is so good. The crust is baked well and the overall idea of the dish itself is amazing. Aarón says, “I don’t know that I would have thought to make a cheesecake with this ingredient. It’s fantastic!” Hannah’s Blue Cheese Danish is a tad under baked but she nailed the filling. Christina says, “The blue cheese definitely stands out, and in a good way. Nice work.” Kemp’s Blue Cheese Pudding does not have enough Blue Cheese in it and the pudding is very gloppy. And Peggy’s Blue Cheese Soufflé looks incredible but when the spoon hits it, it sinks into mush. It is very under baked. The Top 2 Dishes belong to MASON AND DEVLYN.

The bottom 2 dishes belong to Peggy and Katia. The young cook who is safe is … Katia. This means that sadly, Peggy is going home. She says her goodbyes as all the kids hug before she leaves. Gordon says, “Keep your head up young lady. Let’s get one thing straight, you have a bright future ahead of you. A Blue Cheese Soufflé is an incredibly difficult dish. We have not seen the last of you, I’m sure.”


Episode 10

The top 12 are put in 6 teams of 2. Each kid will make a Salmon en Croûte and when time is up they will decide which one the judges will taste. The teams are Mason & Dylan, Denali & Janie, Devlyn & Katia, Mulan & Nathan, Jada & Bri, and Kemp & Hannah. Even though the young cooks are each working on their own dishes, they work together for the best possible outcome for their team. First up, Mason & Dylan. They pick Mason’s salmon en croute because his looks the best on the plate. Gordon says, “Well, you have nailed the puffed pastry young man, but what am I going to find inside?” He finds perfectly pink fish and the right amount of spicy mustard. “I wish the cooks in Hell’s Kitchen could execute as well as you!” Next up, Hannah & Kemp. They pick Kemp’s dish for tasting because Hannah’s was a bit burned on the outside. Sadly, Kemp’s puff pastry is undercooked, as is the salmon. Janie & Denali pick Denali’s en croute because he is feeling very confident about the dish. It is almost perfect. Christina says, “You nailed the cook on the salmon and the pastry, but for me, the mustard is just too hot. What do you think Gordon?” Gordon takes a taste, and agrees, there is too much spice for this delicate dish. Next, Katia & Devlyn pick Devlyn’s dish for tasting. Aarón says, “The elements of this dish have really come together. The pastry is flaky, the salmon is moist and the mustard is in perfect proportion. I could have ordered this at a restaurant.” Next, Nathan & Mulan pick Mulan’s dish because Nathan is positive hers will taste better. But, it turns out the salmon is very undercooked. And finally, Bri & Jada pick Bri’s dish for the judges because Jada had trouble removing the bones from her fish. Gordon says, “You’ve done well with two out of three components. The pastry is lovely and the mustard is the best here tonight, but this salmon is overcooked. You’ve dried out the star of the dish.” The top 2 teams are MASON & DYLAN and DEVLYN & KATIA!! Denali & Janie and Bri & Jada are also safe.

The remaining 4 cooks now have to cook scallops. During the cook time Hannah who is already upset from the last challenge starts to cry. Mason hurries down from the balcony and gives her a big hug and tells her she can do this. Time is up. Most of Hannah’s scallops are overcooked, but the good news is at least one scallop is perfectly done and has a great sear on it. Kemp’s scallops are burnt and sadly he forgot to season them. Nathan nailed his dish. All the scallops are cooked and seasoned well and the taste is amazing. And Mulan’s scallops are only seared on one side, they are way overcooked and rubbery. NATHAN made the best scallops of the night and sadly the young chef going home is … Mulan. The judges shock all the kids when they say they will send one more young chef home and that cook is …… Kemp! That means Hannah is safe. Mulan and Kemp get hugs from the judges and the young cooks. This has been an emotional rollercoaster!

Episode 11

The top 10 young cooks come into the MasterChef Kitchen to find Gordon waiting. “You won’t be cooking today. I want you to go straight up to the balcony. You can cheer your friends on as they try and win a spot back into the competition.” The last 6 eliminated cooks enter the kitchen and head to their stations. Two of these young home cooks will win the chance to rejoin the competition. The first challenge is make as many perfect sunny-side-up eggs as they can in 10 minutes. JOSIE makes 14! She is the first to rejoin her friends on the balcony. Kemp made 12 and Chase made 10. They will go on to the next challenge and battle it out for the last spot. Sadly, Mulan, Peggy and Daniel do not make enough perfect eggs to qualify and they are going home again. Tough break. Peggy says, “It’s hard being eliminated again. But on the other hand, it was so much fun to come back, cook in the MasterChef Kitchen again, and see all my friends. Let’s go!” Mulan and Daniel join Peggy as they walk out together, hand in hand, in hand.
Now, for the final challenge, Kemp and Chase will make a fruit tart. The judges will taste them in a blind taste test and the best tart wins a spot back into the MasterChef Jr Fantasy Season! Tart “A” has a nice crust and beautifully cut strawberries, but too much cream. Tart “B” also has a great crust, the right amount of flavorful cream, but the fruit is cut in rather large chunks. The judges confer and make their decision. The tart they would order again in “B” and it was made by … KEMP!!! Sadly, Chase is going home but not before congratulating Kemp and waving goodbye to all his new chef friends. “I thought that might have been too much cream. Now I know. Like Chef Ramsay always says, you got to learn from your failures.”

Episode 12

The top 12 arrive at Caesars Palace is Las Vegas for the next Team Challenge. They will be in 3 teams of 4 and each team will be making a high-end dish. The top 2 dishes will stay on the menu forever!!! The losing team will go directly into a Pressure Test. This time the teams are selected randomly by pulling colored wooden spoons out of a sack. The Red Spoon Team is Bri, Kemp, Nathan & Josie. The Green Spoon Team is Mason, Hannah, Dylan & Janie. And the Blue Spoon Team is Denali, Katia, Devlyn & Jada.
The Green Spoon Team makes a Five Spice Lamb Chop with an Mandarin Glaze. The plating is amazing, they got the right temp on the lamb and the glaze is unexpected and delicious. Gordon asks, “Who came up with the glaze?” Mason raised his hand. “Mandarins? Why? How?” Mason says, “I live in Auburn, California and we have a Mandarin Festival every year. I like to use mandarin in a lot of my recipes.” Gordon says, “Amazing. I was eating jam from a jar at your age.” The Red Spoon Team makes Grilled Steak and Potatoes. Aarón says, “For a simple dish like this, I’m looking for perfection.” But he doesn’t find it. The meat is overcooked. It’s dry and tasteless. However, the seasoning on the potatoes is amazing. And the Blue Spoon Team makes Pan Seared Sea Bass. The fish is cooked and seasoned well but the sauce they made is a bit too spicy, it takes away from the fish. The winning team is GREEN SPOON TEAM!!! And the team in 2nd place is … BLUE SPOON TEAM!!!!!

Bri, Kemp, Nathan & Josie from the Red Spoon Team are off to Gordon Ramsey Steak for the dreaded Pressure Test. They will cook a Filet Mignon. Bri’s filet is seared nicely. It is medium rare and the seasoning is spot on. Kemp nailed the cook on the meat and his herb butter brings a lusciousness to every bite. Nathan’s nerves get to him and he undercooks his filet that also lacks seasoning. Josie lets her steak sit in the pan too long, she overcooks it, drying it out.

KEMP and BRI are safe. Nathan and Josie will get another chance to cook a filet mignon. This time Nathan gets a perfect sear and his seasoning is genius. Josie does a good job too, but her filet doesn’t shine. The judges decide the best steak was made by … NATHAN. This means Josie is going home again. “Well that was a fun. I wish I was staying, but I know I did my best.” Since it’s Vegas, Gordon takes everyone out for ice creams after the show, so Josie get a special goodbye.

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Episode 13

The top 11 enter the MasterChef Kitchen and see the Mystery Boxes at their stations. When Gordon tells them to lift their boxes they find big bowls of rice! The young cooks are asked to be creative and make a restaurant quality rice dish. As always, the judges walk around and taste the dishes and choose three interesting ones they want to take a closer look at. The 1st dish they call forward belongs to Kemp. He made Ginger Rice Cakes. Gordon says, “I’ve never seen rice cakes fried like this. They are wonderful, and the pop of ginger is a pleasant surprise.” Next up, Jada’s Spicy Rice Curry. The shrimp she added are nice and juicy but their flavor is lost in too much spice. Finally, Katia’s Fish and Rice is tasted. Aarón says, “Your fish is perfectly cooked, but the dish lacks seasoning.” And the winner is … KEMP!! He is safe and gets to pick the teams for the Game Day Platter Tag Team Challenge.

The teams are Mason & Hannah, Katia & Bri, Nathan & Denali, Devlyn & Jada and Janie & Dylan. During the cook time the young cooks have to race back and forth taking turns cooking at their shared station. Katia slips and falls on her knee. She needs a bandage but she doesn’t give up. She continues to coach her partner Bri through the challenge! Hannah gets flustered trying to wrap the pastry around the mini hotdogs, but her partner Mason cheers her on from the side, “I know you can do this! One thing at a time.” 😊 Time is up. Mason & Hannah’s platter looks amazing. The cook on the Sliders is spot on and the Pigs in a Blanket came out perfectly. The Jalapeño Poppers have a right amount of spice and the Homemade Chips and Guacamole is excellent. Gordon says, “Kemps’ strategy in pairing you two was a total misfire because you worked amazing well together. This is a quality performance.” 😊 Janie & Dylan struggled. Christina says, “Your platter looks unfinished. Do I see only one slider?” After taking a bite, “Oh, this is overcooked people. But I have to say, your chips are cut well and the poppers tastes pretty good. Overall though, not your best effort.” Devlyn & Jada’s platter looks complete. Aarón says, “The Pigs in a Blanket are done well. The Sliders are nice and juicy and have great seasoning. And the Jalapeño Poppers are my favorite are my favorite bite today. Good job.” He gives two high fives! Bri & Katia pulled their platter together despite Katia’s fall. Gordon says, “I’m glad you two didn’t give up. You burgers and hotdogs are good and Katia’s guacamole is one of the best today. But the poppers are just too spicy. Did you taste them?” Nathan & Denali’s Platter is a real mess! The puff pastry is raw, the chips are soggy and they forgot all about the poppers!
MASON & HANNAH had the best platter of the night!

Devlyn & Jada and Bri & Katia also presented very good platters. That leaves Janie & Dylan and Nathan & Denali. The next team safe is …. Janie & Dylan. And the last cook in the top 10 is … Nathan. Sadly, that means Denali is going home. Gordon says, “Denali, tonight just wasn’t your night. But you know, and I know, you can cook. We’ve seen you cook amazing things in the MasterChef Kitchen. Promise me you will keep learning and keep cooking. Will you do that?” Denali smiles. “I will Chef. I’ve learned so much I want to bring back home and share with my family. I can’t wait to get started.” Hugs all around. There are ten young home cooks left!


Episode 14

The top 10 young home cooks will be cooking at a local Middle School to raise money for anti-bulling education. 😊 At least 1 in 4 U.S. students say they have been bullied at school. Bullying negatively affects the youth involved, including those who are bullied, those who bully others, and those who see bullying going on. This is a cause the kids can get behind!

Mason is the Blue Team Captain and picks Janie, Dylan, Devlyn & Jada. Hannah is the Red Team Captain she picks Nathan, Kemp, Bri and Katia. For the first time in MasterChef history both teams do very, very well without any big mistakes. They cook their hearts out and raise lots of money. In fact, they rise the same amount so both teams win and it’s the up the judges to pick the best of the best, and that team is … THE BLUE TEAM.

Then the judges save one outstanding cook from the Red Team. They choose Kemp.
Back in the MasterChef Kitchen the remaining kids from the Red Team have to bake Chocolate Truffles. Hannah’s chocolates are nice and round and taste rich. Katia’s chocolates are flattened in the box and there are too many nuts. Nathan’s chocolates are amazing. Christina says, “They melt in my mouth. Back at the Milk Bar this is what we call a heavenly bite.” Bri’s chocolates melted together in the box, and taste a bit bitter. Not enough sugar. ☹ Nathan & Hannah’s truffles are in the top 2. It is between Bri and Katia. Katia’s truffles are slightly better, so sadly her friend Bri is going home. She hugs her goodbye and all the kids join in.😊 Christina says, “It has been a delight watching you cook in the MasterChef Kitchen Bri. Your creativity stands out. We are going to miss you!” Bri wipes away her tears and gives a thumbs up! “This has been one of the greatest experiences of my life. I never knew cooking with friends could be so much fun. And I’m glad I got to help raise money to fight bullying. It’s important stuff.”


Episode 15

When the Top 9 enter the Masterchef Kitchen they see a big box behind the judges and when they are instructed to lift their Mystery Boxes they are empty! What? Then the big box slowly rises to reveal their families including Mason’s mom Kathy, Jada’s mom Lakiesha, Dylan’s mom Tara, Devlyn’s mom Triana, Nathan’s dad Mark, Janie’s mom Julie, Kemp’s dad David, Katia’s mom and Hannah’s mom. There are lots of hugs and kisses. For the challenge the kids will cook a dish they would cook for their families. Their family member can help them plan and collect the necessary ingredients from the pantry. In addition, the young cook can call on their family to help in the kitchen for 10 minutes during their 60 minute cooking time. There are many hands in the MasterChef Kitchen today!

The 1st best dish belongs to … Mason. He made Ribeye Steak with Fresh Salad and Homemade Potato Cakes. The cook and seasoning on the meat is spot on. Gordon says, “The garlic butter really brings out the flavors of the steak. And these potato cakes are delicious. Overall you have a great dish here. Well done. “ When Gordon asks how it was cooking with his mom, Mason says, “I loved it! We had so much fun. We cook together at lots of events back home and I don’t worry about what anyone else says. All I care about is being myself.” Then he turns to other kids and looks right into the camera and says, “And that is to all of you, no matter what anyone else says about how you should act, about gender or age, always remember, no matter what, be yourself. The only one who can define you is you!” Everyone is so impressed by his wisdom they give him a big round of applause! The 2nd best dish belongs to Nathan. He made Chicken Drumsticks and Sautéed Green Beans. Christina says, “Your chicken is nicely cooked, the crispy skin is a great texture, however it lacks seasoning. The green beans are yummy, I could eat a whole bowl!” And the 3rd best dish belongs to Janie. She made Pork Chops with Wild Rice Stuffing. Aarón says, “I gotta say, the sear on your chop is impressive and the meat is perfectly tender. I’m not sure the wild rice is fully cooked in the stuffing, but the seasoning has hit the bulls eye. I’d come eat at your house if you were serving this dish!” The judges confer and Gordon announces the winner. “I just want to say that we saw a lot of great cooking in the kitchen today, and it’s never easy to pick a winner. All you family members should be very proud of your young cooks. There is one dish that shines a bit brighter here today, and tastes a bit better, and that dish belongs to … MASON! He is safe, in the top 8, and invited to go to the balcony with his mom where they can enjoy a dessert from Milk Bar and watch the Elimination Challenge.

The rest of the kids say goodbye to their family and get to work making Chicken & Waffles. Devlyn nails the challenge. His plating looks amazing, the chicken is crispy on the outside, tender on the inside, and the waffles are delicious. Even the maple sauce he made for dipping is excellent. Aarón is speechless. Katia’s fried chicken has a wonderful spice in the breading. Christina says, “This chicken is perfection, but the waffles are a tad overdone. It’s good, but not great.” Dylan dish has problems. Gordon says, “Dylan, Dylan, Dylan, this chicken is so overcooked it’s like jerky on a the bone. What happened? Your waffles taste great, I’ll give you that. But this chicken. Crikey!” ☹ Jada executed her chicken and waffles like a restaurant chef, but her sauce is overly sweet. Christina says, “Now you know I like sweet girl, but this sauce is too much, even for me. A glaring mistake in an otherwise perfect dish.” Nathan’s plating is a bit sloppy for the top 9 but he nailed everything on the plate. Janie’s dish looks amazing. Christina says, “You have cooked this chicken like a pro, the seasoning, the crispy breading, the juicy meat. But the best thing here is your waffle. My favorite waffle bite today!” Hannah overcooked her chicken but waffles and sauce shine. Aarón says, “I know it is a hard to get all three elements right, but if you had taken the chicken out 45 seconds earlier you would have had a complete success. Your waffles are divine and this sauce should be bottled. Makes me sad about the chicken.” And Kemp’s dish looks amazing but when Gordon cuts into the chicken he finds it is raw at the bone. Inedible. DEVLYN, KATIA & JANIE are the top 3.


Leaving Dylan and Kemp. Gordon takes a long time to reveal it is Kemp going home, so that means Dylan is safe. Gordon says, “I’ve been where you are standing, young man. It’s not easy. But rest assured, you are a talented young cook and you have a bright future ahead of you. Cooking is in your blood. It’s been a real pleasure working with you.” Kemp is happy to hear such kind words. “Good luck to all my friends. I’ll miss the challenge of cooking here and the fun, but I’m glad I got this far.” Hugs, fist bumps, a fear tears and lots of smiles. Now there are 8!


Episode 16

Cheese is king in this episode. The remaining 8 home cooks will cook in 3 Pressure Tests featuring cheese. First 4 kids will safe, then 2 kids, then the last 2 will go head to head.

In Round #1 they make Mac & Cheese. Mason’s Baked Mac & Cheese Balls are cooked well and have just the right amount of cheddar cheese. Aarón says, “They taste so good!” Jada’s Mac & Cheese is dry because there is not enough cheese and doesn’t have much flavor. Dylan’s Mac & Cheese is the right consistency, but the cinnamon he added throws off the flavor. Christina is curious, “Did you mean to add cinnamon? It doesn’t make sense in the dish.” Katia’s dish is nice and creamy and the touch of cayenne pepper adds a pleasing heat. Janie’s Mac & Cheese looks great. Gordon says, “The toasted bread crumbs on top add flavor and texture and make the dish. Let’s get one thing right, you know your macaroni and cheese!” Nathan’s Mac & Cheese is gloppy because the cheddar cheese separated. It is a fail. Devlyn’s Fried Mac & Cheese is amazing and Gordon loves it. “I’d serve these at one of my restaurants. Well done.” Hannah’s dish initially looks very good, but when Aarón tastes it he says, “This the cheese is too rich. I think there is too much cream.” MASON, KATIA, JANIE and DEVLYN’s Mac & Cheese dishes earn them spots in the top 7.

In Round #2 the remaining 4 kids make a Cheese Omelet. Jada’s omelet is runny and the cheese is gritty. Dylan’s omelet is burnt and unpalatable. Nathan’s omelet looks beautiful. It is light and fluffy, nicely seasoned and has just the right amount of melted cheese. It tastes amazing. Hannah’s omelet’s is very small but also very good. NATAHN & HANNHA have earned their spot in the top 7.

In Round #3 Jada and Dylan go head to head creating a Cheese Soufflé. They whip their eggs and cheese and get them in the ovens. Both kneel in front of the glass, fingers crossed, watching them rise. Jada looks over at Dylan and says, “May the best soufflé win.” Dylan nods and gives a thumbs up. As soon as they come out of the ovens the judges taste and decide the best Soufflé belongs to …. Dylan. Sadly, Jada is the next to go home. Aarón says, “You have been on a wild ride and I’m sorry it’s time to get off, but remember this – you are a great cook! We’ve watched you grow over these last weeks, and I have no doubt in my mind that if you continue to work and try new things you will just keep getting better. You are just getting started.” Jada says, “Thanks Chef Sánchez, that means a lot to me. I want to get home and make cheese omelets and soufflés until I get as good as they can be. Everyone here has taught me to never give up.” All the kids gather in a big group hug. Christina wants in, she comes off the stage to help the group say goodbye to Jada. 😊 NOW THERE ARE SEVEN.


Episode 17
For the last Mystery Box the top 7 have to make a pasta dish. The top 3 dishes called forward belong to Devlyn, Hannah, and Nathan. Devlyn made a smart and scrumptious Cheese Ravioli. Hannah made a nice and smooth Manicotti. And Nathan made fresh and perfectly put together Tortellini. And the winner is … DEVLYN!!! He is safe and gets to save one other kid from the Elimination Test. He saves Nathan. They get to bring their pasta dishes up to balcony to share. 😊

The remaining 5 kids are told they must bake a box of 12 French Macarons. Gasp! Mason’s Macarons with Mandarin Vanilla Cream are crisp and smooth on top and chewy and delicious inside. Christina says, “Look at the feet on these Macarons, amazing! And this cream is like a Creamsicle! The real vanilla bean brings it to a whole new level. I can’t believe this is the first time you made them!” Janie’s Macarons are cracked on top, have no feet and the chocolate filling is very bitter. Hannah’s Chocolate Macarons are amazing. Gordon says, “You have 12 consistent cookies here and the bite is sweet. Well done.” Katia’s Macarons are a bit flat without much feet, however the pistachio flavor in the butter cream filling is outstanding. And sadly, Dylan’s Macarons don’t come together. Aarón says, “These shells needed more time in the oven, they are under baked. And frankly, the overall bite lacks flavor. This is a tough cookie to bake and I don’t think you were up to the challenge today.” MASON, HANNAH & KATIA are the top 3!

Dylan and Janie are on the bottom 2, and the last cook safe is … Janie. That means Dylan is going home. Gordon says, “Tough break, Dylan. I too have found this delicate cookie hard to make. But I want to stress that you are a great cook and your passion has been clear on every plate. You have every right to be proud of your cooking.” Dylan replied, “Thank you, Chef. I have loved cooking for you and the other judges. This is not the first time Mason has out shined me in the kitchen, we were on Chopped Junior together. I’m betting he is going to go all the way. I wish him luck!” Mason gives him a big hug and says “I will miss you so much buddy.”


Episode 18

The top 6 head into the Restaurant Takeover. The judges pick the teams. The Red Team Captain, Mason will work with Janie and Katia. And the Blue Team Captain Nathan will work with Hannah and Devlyn. They will cook two Appetizers: Scallops and Shrimp. And two Entrées: New York Strip Steak and Lamb Chops. Gordon demonstrates the execution of each dish and the young home cooks get to work. Restaurant Takeovers are notoriously challenging.

The Appetizers make it out to the guests without problems. But when the main dish orders start coming in Blue Team’s Nathan puts up raw lamb! Nathan asks for help and Devlyn quickly steps in to refire the lamb, the dishes go out just in time. On the Red Team Katia is having trouble plating the Entrees. She tells her team there are too many components to manage. Mason helps her calm, walks her through the next steak dish, and gets her back on track. Everything runs smoothly thanks to his guidance. The judges talk with the guests, and taking their comments into consideration choose a winning team. And the winning team is … RED TEAM!!!!

When the judges give Devlyn a chance to save himself from the Pressure Test he says, “I’d rather cook. The more I cook, the better I get at cooking. And I want to be the best cook I can possibly be.” Gotta respect that. For the last Pressure Test the Blue Team must cook Gordon’s Double Cut Pork Chop. Devlyn’s Pork has the right temp inside and the sear is great and it tastes nice and juicy. Hannah’s Pork is overcooked and the top is burnt, but the veggies are very good. Nathan’s dish looks dreadful. The sides are falling off the dish and the pork is so undercooked the judges can’t safely eat it. ☹ DELVYN is the first safe cook. Gordon says, “I admire your work ethic young man. I agree with you, the more you cook, the better you get at cooking! … Now, I would like to ask the cook who knows it is time to go home to please step forward.” A teary eyed Nathan steps forward. “I know it’s me. My raw pork means GAME OVER. But I want to thank the judges for teaching me how to love food and be a chef. And I want to thank my new friends for pushing me to be a better cook than I was before I came to the MasterChef Kitchen. This has been a dream come true! All the kids hug him and walk with him to the doors. A great sendoff. 😊 NOW THERE ARE FIVE.


Episode 19

For the Semi Finals the last 5 will cook in 3 rounds involving Lamb. In the First Round 2 cooks win their spot in the Finale. In the Second Round one cook will win a spot in the Finale. In the Third Round the two remaining cooks will go head to head, one cook will go to the Finale and one cook will go home.

Round One: Lamb Lollipops. Mason’s lamb is nicely cooked and the mustard sauce he added is amazing. 😊 Janie’s lamb is overcooked and lacks seasoning. Devlyn forgot to season his lamb, but he got a perfect cook on the meat. Katia’s lamb, as always, has great seasoning and the cook is spot on. Unfortunately, Hannah’s lamb is undercooked. Gordon says, “If I put my ear down to the dish I think I can still hear the baaaaaa.” :0 MASON & KATIA are the first 2 cooks in the Finale. They get their chef coats and happily head up to the balcony.

Round Two: Boneless Lamb. Janie nails the cook on her lamb but she has added too much spice. The cook on Devlyn’s boneless lamb spot on and his seasoning was almost perfect. And Hannah’s well-seasoned lamb is overcooked. DEVLYN has earned his spot in the Finale! He takes his coat and runs up the balcony stairs. Mason and Katia greet him with high fives and congratulatory hugs!

Round Three: Rack of Lamb: Both Hannah and Janie do an excellent job preparing and cooking their Rack of Lamb. Gordon says, “This may be the toughest call we’ve had to make this season. There is not a clear winner, because you both did an amazing job of a very difficult cut of lamb. It comes down to the slightest of difference in the two dishes. The young cook who served a slightly more tender serving is … Janie! Come get your jacket young lady, and head up to the balcony.” Janie is in the Finale, but she doesn’t run up the stairs, because Mason, Katia and Devlyn are running down the stairs to say goodbye to Hannah, who is going home. There are tears all around, even Christina needs a tissue. When Gordon asks Hannah who she believes will win in the Finale she says, “I don’t know. Any one of them could win. They are all that good. And I don’t have a favorite, because they are all my favorite! I wish I was going to the Finale because it would mean I could cook with my friends one more time. This has been a blast!” The group hug lasts a long time and when it’s time to walk her out the judges go too. Everyone leaves with Hannah, together. 😊 NOW THERE ARE FOUR!


Episode 20

It’s the Masterchef Jr Finale! Mason, Janie, Devlyn and Katia will each cook a 3 course meal and as always 2 will be Champions. The finalists’ families and friends, along with the past contestants are in the MasterChef Kitchen to cheer them on. Chef Richard Blais will be judging with Gordon, Christina and Aarón.

Mason made Shrimp Cups. The shrimp is cooked beautifully and the dollop of sour cream gives it a nice finish. Aarón says,” I love the salsa and creative use of tortilla here.” Janie made Seared Scallops. Gordon says, “The sear on these scallops is professional, but I’m sorry to tell you that my scallop is overcooked. It’s chewy. Unfortunate.” But Richard says, “Mine were cooked perfectly, but I wish there was more seasoning.” Katia made Pork Medallions. Christina says, “The plating is a bit simple for a Finale dish, but you did a great job on the cook on the pork.” Devlyn made Shrimp & Grits. He nailed the cook on the shrimp and Gordon says, “These grits are the best I’ve tasted in a long time.” Christina says, “I really love this sauce you created, I just can’t stop eating it!”

Mason made Spicy Ribs that were cooked to perfection. Aarón says, “This marmalade glaze is a whole new level of barbeque deliciousness. I’m not kidding.” And Gordon says, “Ribs like these usually take 2 days to build this kind of flavor, but you did it in 60 minutes. You are showing us what a good chef you are.” 😊 Katia made Rosemary Lamb Chops. The presentation and seasoning is on point. But Christina says, “The lamb is well cooked but I barely taste the Rosemary. If you are going to tell me I am going to eat Rosemary Lamb, then I should taste the rosemary. I’m a little disappointed.” Devlyn made Blacked Salmon. Gordon is worried the Salmon will be overcooked, but when he looks inside it is glistening pink. Richard says, “I love how the salmon skin is nice and crispy and your sweet potato puree compliments the fish perfectly. Excellent work.” And Janie made Meatloaf. She cooked and seasoned it well but Gordon says, “Okay, this is a decent meatloaf, but it is nothing extraordinary. I expect much more for a MasterChef Finale.” Christina disagrees, “I think this is an elevated meatloaf. The way Janie has seasoned the meat and plated the dish shows sophistication beyond her years.” Aarón says, “I kind of agree with Gordon, this meatloaf feels basic.” And finally Richard says, “I’m with Christina on this one. I’ve never had a meatloaf bite that was so packed with flavor.” Moving on …

Mason made a Mini Caramel Cheesecake. Christina says, “The cake has a nice crust and the cream is rich and delicious, but I have a bone to pick with you.” Mason says, “Okay, what is it?” Christina asks, “Where did this caramel sauce come from? You didn’t get it from the pantry did you?” And Mason answers, “No, Maam. It’s Mason Made Ooey-Gooey Good Caramel Sauce. It’s my recipe. I make jars of it at home!” Christina laughs, “Well I’ll be darned! Your caramel sauce steals the show. It is a dessert all by itself!” Janie made a Chocolate Mouse. It looks great but the chocolate is too dense. Gordon says, “Every spoonful is heavy, it’s too much chocolate.” Devlyn made a Vanilla Tart with Fresh Fruit. The crust is baked well and the perfect container for the luscious vanilla cream filling. Richard says, “This tart is a work of art. You knife skills with the strawberries is far beyond your years.” Christina added, “Geez Louise, I knew you could cook Devlyn, but now I know you can bake!” And Katia made an Apple Crumble a la Mode. Aarón says, “You took this humble dessert and raised it up. The crumble is sweet and crunchy and perfectly balanced with the homemade ice cream. My one note is that the apples are a bit undercooked. Perhaps they were now sliced thinly enough? In any case, I enjoyed your dessert.” He holds up his empty plate to show he has eaten the entire portion.

The competition is complete. The young cooks have done everything they can possible can to win. Now it is up to the judges, who talked privately for a long time before coming back to the stage. Gordon says, “Thank you! These were fantastic meals. You young home cooks should be very proud of yourselves. We have seen you grow into chefs during this season. Always wear your chef coats with pride. It has been be extremely hard picking 2 winners, but it is time to switch places with us, you have earned the right to be center stage.
And the winners are … … … MASON AND DEVLYN!!!

They are shocked and give each other a hug! Then the 4 young chefs who gone the farthest together join in a huge group hug! 😊 After all the families celebrate with hugs, they go on to hug their friends. old and new. 😊 Mason and Devlyn each win $100,000 and Masterchef Jr Trophies. Janie and Katia each win $50,000 and receive MasterChef Jr Medals. Mason says, “I can’t believe it! This is a dream!” and Devlyn laughs, “Believe it Mason! We won!”