MASTERCHEF JR S07 x 14 and 15

The Grand Finale, Parts 1 and 2

The amazing top 3 enter the MasterChef Kitchen all ready to cook in the Finale. Eleven-year-old Californian, Malia, twelve-year-old New Yorker, Che and eleven-year-old Georgian, Ivy are super excited to cook their hearts out as their family and friends cheer them on. Massive group hug! Kyle looks overwhelm with happy to see his friend Che. Tears of joy. He wants his New York buddy to win the whole thing. The top 3 must cook an Appetizer, an Entrée and a Dessert. Cooking times go smoothly for all three young chefs so I will just talk about the judges reactions to the dishes they created.



Malia made Miso-Marinated Black Cod with Fresh Soba Noodles, Pickled Cucumber and Soy Quail Egg. She nailed the cook on her fish. The rich egg yolk works well. Chef Gordon says the dish has saltiness and sweetness, but it needed a bit acidity to cut the richness. Chef Christina loves the dish, but wished the noodles were longer. And Chef Aarón says the dish shows great confidence and that she did a great job!


Che made Pan-seared Prawns and Cuttlefish with Calabrian Chile Butter Polenta, Lemon Vinaigrette and Parmesan Crisp. Chef Gordon says the plate is visually breathtaking and special because he cooked two of the most difficult proteins perfectly. Chef Christina loves the complexity and elements of surprise, but she wanted more seasoning in the polenta. Chef Aarón thinks the cooking of the cuttlefish is amazing and the combination of flavors are magical, but he doesn’t love the use of cheese with shellfish.


Ivy made Pan-Seared Red Snapper with Tropical Salsa, Avocado Crema and Tostones. Chef Gordon says the fish is cooked beautifully and packed with flavor but the skin is soggy. The salsa is super delicious, but it should not have been on the fish. Chef Christina says the dish is Ivy on a plate! She wanted more of crema because it tasted so good. Chef Aarón loves the tropical colors and flavors, but might have used the plantain as a crust on the fish.


Malia’s Pan-Seared Filet Mignon with Fried Shishito Peppers and Dashi Braised Daikon looks delicious. Chef Aarón says the flavor of the dish is unreal good, but sadly the steak is about ten seconds undercooked and the daikon was a miss. Chef Christina loves that the dish screams uniquely Malia but she wanted more seasoning and more sear on the filet. Chef Gordon says the dish looks spectacular and has great finesse. He thinks it is a sophisticated dish and she did a great job.


Che’s Veal Saltimbocca with Fingerling Potatoes, Spring Pea Ragout, Morels and Mushroom Jus is a visual wow. Chef Aarón is impressed with the perfect cook on the veal, prosciutto and cheese together. Chef Christina liked that the dish is both comfort and elegant and tells his story. She wanted the peas to be brighter green. Chef Gordon says the flavors are exquisite and Che did a great job with seasoning to offset the salty prosciutto. “It’s you on a plate. That’s the most exciting thing about everything that you touch – I really get to understand it’s you. Thank you.”



Ivy’s Glazed Hanger Steak with Butternut Squash Two Ways, Brussels Sprouts and Herb Purée is an ambitious because the cut of meat is unforgiving. Chef Aarón says the cook on the steak is beyond perfect and the dish is so well crafted. Chef Christina says it is a stunning dish and she loves the steak, but she wanted more acidity. Chef Gordon says it is a chef’s dream to have a protein cooked this beautifully. And the herb purée is breathtaking, so breathtaking that she didn’t need the sauce on the plate.


Chef Gordon says, “We’re two down, and let me tell you, Ivy, Che and Malia, right now, have one hand each on that trophy. Let’s see who can impress with desserts.”


Malia made Sesame Panna Cotta with Mixed Berry Coulis, Raspberry Cream and Sesame Tuile. Chef Christina is impressed that the panna cotta has just the right amount of gelatin and is luxuriously smooth. The flavor is expert. Chef Aarón loves the combination of vanilla bean and black sesame. “Really impressive.” Chef Gordon agrees Malia has nailed the dessert. “I love it! It’s like the front cover of a pastry chef’s cookbook.”


Che made Gluten Free Chocolate Olive Oil Cake with Orange Glaze, French Ricotta Cream and Pistachio Tuile. It is nice and fluffy and glistening in the center. Chef Christina could do without the tuile, but she wants this gluten free recipe. Both Chef Aarón and Chef Gordon love the cake, but they disagree on the amount of orange zest. Chef Aarón thinks it is too much, Chef Gordon thinks it is balanced well. Either way it is a great flourless cake.


Ivy made Butterscotch Pots De Crème with Caramel Sauce, Pine Nut Brittle and Whipped Crème Fraîche. Chef Gordon says the plating on the dessert is very inviting and eye-catching. He thinks it is delicious, but very sweet. Chef Christina loves the whimsy of smashing the brittle, and the creamy pudding with the crunchy texture. Chef Aarón thinks the flavors are magical, but he would have used less thyme.


After much talking and thinking the judges pick a winner and leave the MasterChef Restaurant to tell everyone who it is. First they ask the top 3 young cooks to trade places with them on center stage. Chef Gordon says it was so close. The winner of MasterChef Jr is …………. CHE!!!!!!!!!!


Che is so thrilled he drops to his knees and falls flat on his back as confetti rains down!!!


He says, “OH MY GOSH, I CAN’T BELIVE I WON IT! I WON MASTERCHEF JR! I’ve been dreaming about this for so long and I finally won! I’m so happy and excited. Cooking alongside Ivy and Malia was amazing. They’re such great home cooks, they deserve the trophy just as much as I do. I wish I could share this trophy with them. You know, cut it in 3rds or something.”


Ivy says “ I am very happy for Che. I feel like he deserves it. He puts his heart in everything he does. He’s just amazing.” Malia says, “I have grown so much in this competition. You know, even if I didn’t win MasterChef Jr, I’m just really proud of myself and I’m really proud of Che.”


Che says, “My dad got me started into cooking and now I have they the trophy, I have the title, and I have the $100,000 and it’s all because of him. If my dad could see me right now he would be so proud of me!” 😊



The Semi-Final

For the Semi-Finals the top 6 return to cook their last Mystery Box. When they lift the boxes they find letters from home! 😊 They are asked to make a dish inspired by their families. After they get all the ingredients they need in the pantry they are shocked to find their families waiting for them back at their stations!


Inspirational guests are: Reid’s dad, Tim and brother, Cade; Ivy’s mom, Timna and sister, Anavi; Aaron’s mom, Erica and sister, Akira; Che’s mom, Elizabethanne and brother, Cosmo; Malia’s dad, Chris and brother Austin; & Sadie’s mom, Rebecca and brother, Elias. They will be cheering on the young home cooks from the balcony. 😊 The judges will be tasting all six dishes and the winner of this Mystery Box gets a place in the MasterChef JR Finale!


Malia’s Salmon & Lemon Pesto with Beurre Blanc Sauce, Carrots & Turnips is on point. The salmon is nicely cooked and all the veggies make sense and the pesto is good but a touch too strong. Chef Christina says, “Gorgeous job.”


Sadie’s Poached Halibut with Squash Blossom, Goat Cheese, Spring Pea Purée and Frisée Salad looks stunning. She nail the cook on the fish and although the cheese is gooey and rich it doesn’t really make sense with the dish because goat cheese is too sharp to be served with halibut. Chef Gordon says, “However, you are a very strong twelve-year-old. Good job.”


Reid’s Fried Chicken with Mashed Potatoes, Gravy, Peas and Fried Parsley looks great. It is golden brown and crunchy on the outside and nice and juicy on the inside. The dish is spiced well but the potatoes are not as fluffy as they should be. Chef Aarón says, “You did such a great job in executing this.”


Ivy’s Veal Schnitzel with German Potato Salad and Vegetable Salad stands out. The veal is truly the star of the dish. Chef Christina loves the warm potato salad but thinks the tomatoes are a tad to large, “but, very nice job.”


Che’s Pan-Seared Red Snapper with Black Bean Purée, Polenta Croutons and Baby Squash is stunning. He nailed the cook on the fish and his polenta croutons are crisp on the outside and nice and creamy on the inside. Chef Gordon loves that the dish has harmony, the flavors go well together. “Refined beyond belief. Good job.”


And Aaron’s Ethiopian Lamb Loin with Injera, Sautéed Spinach and Yogurt Sauce is impressive, especially since he never made it before. The spices are wonderful and he nailed the cook on the lamb, but Chef Aarón feels the plate needs more starch, “but there is a real exotic feel to this dish that is really special and is a testament to your family. Really well done, Aaron.”



And the winning dish belongs to … CHE!!!


He wins his spot in the finale and he gets to hand out 1 of 5 fruits to the other kids. They are: Cherries; Mango; Pineapple; Pear; & Peach. Che says, “Everyone here is a great cook, and we’re such great friends. But I also understand that’s it’s a competition, so I’m not giving anyone a free pass in this finale.”Aaron wants pineapple but he gets Cherries.Reid wants peaches but he gets Mango.
Sadie wants cherries but she gets Pineapple.
Ivy wants cherries but she gets Pear.
Malia wants cherries but she gets Peaches




The most important sixty minutes in the competition for the remaining five fly by. Only two of the five will win spots in the finale. As Sadie says, “These odds are not in my favor.” As the end approaches, from the balcony Che says, “Not a lot of time left guys. Come on you got this.” And Gordon starts the countdown! “Ten, nine, eight, seven, six, five, four, three, two, one! Hands in the air!”


Sadie made a Pineapple Upside-Down Cake with Pineapple 3 Ways. Chef Aarón thinks the dessert shows genius. The grilled pineapple offers relief from the sweetness of the cake and rich caramel. “Good job young lady.” Chef Christina says the dish is complex and bright. It proves she can bake like a MasterChef! One note though is to add a little fatty cream to round out the sweet.


Ivy made Blue Cheese Crusted Pork Chop with Sautéed Cabbage and Caramelized Pears. Chef Gordon thinks the dish looks stunning. She nailed the cook on the pork chop, the inside is moist and glistening. The blue cheese and pear work well together. Everything on the dish fits. Chef Gordon says, “I think it’s one of the best dishes you’ve cooked ever. Great job.”


Reid made Spiced Mango Rum Cake with Passion Fruit-Mango Purée. Chef Aarón likes the sauce and the purée and loves that used the mango in three ways. Unfortunately, he think the cake is undercooked. Chef Gordon loves the cake and doesn’t think it is undercooked. He likes the combo of mango and passion fruit, the richness and tartness elevates the cake. “Really, really delicious. Well done.”



Malia made Peaches & Cream with Buttermilk Biscuits and Candied Macadamia Nuts. Chef Christina thinks this is her best looking dish, it is very elegant. Malia nailed the caramelization of the peaches and the bake of the biscuits. Chef Gordon agrees that visually “it’s got that Wow Factor. It’s an accomplished dish. It’s creative. I would have preferred a little more of the peaches. But I’m seriously impressed.”


And Aaron made Sautéed Duck with Fregula and Pickled Cherries. Chef Gordon likes that he used cherries three ways, but points out the cherries are competing with the duck as the star of the dish. And sadly, the duck is slightly undercooked. But he nailed the seasoning and the cherries. Chef Gordon says, “It’s going to be a tough call. It’s a good dish. I don’t think it’s your best, but it’s a very strong effort. Thank you.”


The next young cook in the Finale is … IVY! And the last chef in the Finale is … MALIA!


Chef Gordon says, “Aaron, Reid, Sadie, you three have been incredible. Sadie! You’re like the princess of pastry. You are a phenomenon. Reid! Eight years of age, you are super talented. Next time I see you, can we go fishing together? You can show me how to catch a proper catfish? I’m going to miss you. Aaron! You’re funny, witty, charming. You’ve got a career in anything you decide to do because you put your heart and soul into it. Right, you three mustn’t ever stop cooking.” YES, Chef! Hugs and hugs and hugs from the judges and final three. Sadie, Reid and Aaron hold their heads high and get cheers from their friends as they walk out. Reid says, “I’m disappointed I’m not in the finale. But I’m proud of what I accomplished. I stepped out of my comfort zone. I cooked my heart out and I did my best.” 😊 Sadie says, “Going home after working so hard is a little frustrating. But when I get home, I can’t wait to open up my French Bistro/Cat Café.” 😊 Aaron says “I accomplished so much! I may not have a MasterChef Trophy, but I’ve got the passion and to make my dreams come true.” 😊



The Restaurant Takeover

The top 6 learn for the last Team Challenge they will do the Restaurant Takeover of a two Michelin Star restaurant. Sadie learns she will captain the Red Team of Aaron and Malia and Reid learns he will captain the Blue Team of Che and Ivy. Reid is a little nervous because, “I’ve never been a team captain before.” And at the end of this challenge there is no Pressure Test, no second chance. At the end of this Team Challenge 2 young cooks from the losing team will be going home.

A MasterChef limo brings the top six to Mélisse where they get amazing Chef Coats and meet the Head Chef, Josiah Citrin! Chef Citrin shows the kids how to make 4 spectacular dishes: Pan-Seared Prawns with Mixed Vegetables; Pan-Seared Halibut with Mushrooms & Brown Butter Chardonnay Sauce; Filet of Beef with Porcini Mushrooms, Glazed Carrots and Charred Leak Purée; and Truffle Crusted Lamb with French Green Lentils & Artichokes. Chef Aarón says, “Guys, this dining room is fully booked with real diners. And they have no idea how old the chefs are preparing this dinner this evening. Age can no longer be an excuse.”

During the hectic appetizer cooking time the Blue Team struggles understanding the orders being read out loud by Chef Gordon. On the Red Team Aaron gets a little overwhelmed and seems to be shutting down, but Chef Aarón and Chef Gordon help to wake him up and get him back on track. Back on the Blue Team Reid accidently throws a hot spoon across the kitchen and gets burned. He tells Chef Gordon he is okay and keeps on cooking with more focus. On the Red Team Sadie lets Malia plate raw prawns for Chef Josiah!! Everyone has to work a little bit harder, but the guests seem to love the appetizers from both teams.

Now it’s time to cook the entrées. Both teams are challenged. On the Blue Team Reid forgets to oil a hot pan and the beefs sticks. Then he struggles with proper basting technique!! Reid starts to get upset when his butter burns and Che comments, “Reid seems to be getting less and less confident as the cook goes. He need to realize that he’s a skilled home cook, that’s why he’s in to 6. We need Reid right now. We can’t get into the Semi Finals without Reid.” Chef Gordon tells Reid he thought he would be a great captain since he really believes in him and he shows him how to baste the steak. Eventually Reid decides to pass the filets off to Che and concentrates on plating instead.  On the Red Team Aaron mistakenly prepares the artichokes before getting the lamb in the oven. Later he puts poorly sliced chops with more bone than meat. And Malia’s beef is not cooked. Chef Gordon says, “Put a pair of horns on that, we’ll stick it back in the field. Dear, Oh dear.”


Chef Citrin enjoyed both teams cooking and all the diners love the entrées. They are shocked to see the chefs are kids. Back in the MasterChef Kitchen the judges read comment cards. Red Team: “Filet of beef cooked perfectly.” “Sauce delicious.” “Santa Barbara Spot Prawns spectacular.” Blue Team: “Halibut prepared wonderfully.” “One of the best halibut dishes I’ve ever tasted.” “Flaky buttery well-seasoned.” “The rack of lamb perfectly cooked.” “Lentils were to die for!” Also for the first time in MasterChef history NO dishes were sent back.
And the wining team is ………… BOTH TEAMS!!!