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.”
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 🙂