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!” 😊