My Silver Lining: How Mason & I Became Best Friends Continued

Where we last left off the story Mason and I were very close friends.
In October I sent him a package since it was his 15th birthday. In the package was a hamburger press (since he loves to make burgers), a shark themed Cape Cod magnet (with his name on it), a microwave cake (a nod to his Chopped Junior dessert basket) and some bags of delicious Cape Cod Chips. Most importantly there was a friendship bracelet which symbolizes that no matter what happens we will be friends forever. On his birthday I called him from my Grampi’s house to say Happy Birthday and he told me the bracelet was his favorite part of the gift and he is happy to have me as a friend.
On Thanksgiving I posted how thankful I was to have him as a friend and he replied he is very happy to have me as a friend too.
In December we sent each other Christmas gifts. He sent me an Emoji pancake pan, a kindness Advent Calendar, a cook ware Christmas Ornament, his mom’s homemade Apple Butter and some California fresh mandarins. (Man, were those fruits delicious! They became my new favorite fruit!) I sent him a homemade tree ornament that had messages like “BFF” and “Through Thick & Thin” on it, Chocolate Poker Chips and Harry Potter Playing Cards. We both thought it was funny that we used the same pic of us in our Friendship Bracelets for our Christmas Card.
In January he sent me his family’s year in review letter which I liked since it felt like a was a family friend too.
In March when Universal posted “Tag Your BFF” and tell them why they are your friend, I tagged Mason and said that no matter what we will always be friends. He replied by saying. “You know it Max.” When I asked him how I was always there for him, he said I was always rooting for him and was a fan that turned out to be a great friend as well. And in this same month I posted MY OWN SEASON OF MASTERCHEF JR WITH HIM IN IT. Mason said he loved it.
In May it was my 23rd Birthday. Mason posted a video telling everyone to wish me a Happy Birthday 😊. Since due to a short illness I had to postpone going to meet him in San Francisco I called a 2nd time to say hi. Mason said he was still super excited to meet me and how he loves how I always create posts about him and other kid cooks.
In June 8th, Best Friends Day, I posted how he is truly my best friend and how happy it make me to know we will be friends forever. He replied by saying I am one of the nicest people he knows😊.
Later that month I got to meet Mason and his mom in San Francisco! It was an amazing experience. We met for a nice dinner at the restaurant Nopa. When I first saw him I was super happy and got up to give him a big hug. We talked a lot about the different shows he was on and he told me that I am like a part of his family. Then Mason said something amazing about friendship. He said Real Friends will always accept you for who you are and if someone wants you to change to be friends with them they are not real friends.(Note he is just 15 years old 😊) I really like that wisdom.


After dinner we gave each other gifts. We exchanged baseball hates. I also gave him a GeoSearch hat from my Aunt Annie’s company, a keychain with his name on it, his favorite candy bar and a backup Friendship Bracelet incase the original breaks. (turns out it had broken and Mason was very grateful for the replacement!)

Mason gave me all sorts of kitchen gadgets and we played “What The Heck Is This Thing For!” This was really fun. My cousin Katie and mother both were stumped a lot. He also gave me a Kindness Coin. I was so touched I stood up and we gave each other a big hug right over the table😊. After that we went out to take some pics


While we were outside I was really happy when Mason said he supported the LGBT community. Then I got really emotional talking to him and I told him I really has happy to have him as a friend. And how before I knew him it was really hard for me to make new friends. I told him he is my best friend and he gave me a very nice hug and told me he understood and I was his friend too. Then we took lots of good pics and we gave each other a nice hug goodbye. Later Mason posted about the visit and said, “It was super great to meet you tonight, you are joy and it was great to have a meal with my best friend!”

More recently Mason posted that I am a very positive kid and I should always believe in myself. Overall our friendship remains strong and I know we will be friends forever.

My Silver Lining: How Mason Became My Best Friend


This is the lovely story of how I became friends with Chopped Jr Winner Mason. We started to talk on social media around 2016 when I told him he was a good cook and I was a fan of his. Mason said, “Let’s be friends.”

On November 28th, 2017 we became closer. His episode of Stove Tots had aired the night before and sadly they did not edit him and his mom in a good way. The show made them seem rude. He was talking about it a lot on Twitter the next day and he was very upset with the show. Mason said they were trying to pit the kids against each other. I felt bad about this and I told him I knew he was a very nice boy and I would not watch that episode again. Mason thanked me and said I was a good friend to him.
Later on I did a Recap of his episode of Chopped Jr on my blog and he loved it. Mason told me that he wanted to send me a Christmas gift to say thanks. He sent a copy of his Cookbook, an autograph picture, a note and some of his favorite candies. After that Mason made nice comments on my social media posts, like how it is an honor to be my friend and how I always brighten up his day.

In June 2018, after I broke my ankle really badly and spent a lot of time in the hospital, Mason was one of my main supporters. He was always checking in on me and he told me he was so worried about me and how he hoped I would be okay. He sent me a special package with one of his chef coats with my name on it and a get well soon letter. On a day when I was nervous about going into surgery he sent me a video telling me he hopes it goes well and that he really wants to meet me one day. Another time he made a video saying he loves how I am always positive and when I am ready we can text, talk on the phone or Skype. Mason said I was always there for him and he wanted to always to be there for me.

And he was always was there to cheer me up when I was in and out of the hospital. It was very hard for me to go under for surgery and when he sent the video it really helped me to calm down. The nicest thing he did for me was when he was at the OC Fair he made a video and sent it to me saying he wanted to win me a prize at his favorite carnival game. He asked which prize I wanted, so it was like I was there with him. Later, he sent me a stuffed dog, 2 fish and a butterfly. He also sent me 3 jars of his Carmel Sauce (Sooo Good!) .

maxpanke___BlnSyOQlEfQtqqoBFu4mmtPkJs8OLvoRPFHcoM0___Once I was home and feeling better I wanted to thank him for his friendship in a big way so I sent him a LEGO person I made of him, Connecticut nutmeg, chopsticks, a ramen noodle bowl and some of his favorite chips. When he got it he was so happy. When he said he is happy to have me as a friend it made me smile.

We talked a bit after that and I told him good luck in High School. On September 18th, I saw he had fallen and cut his head and needed staples so I made a video for him saying I hoped he was going to be okay. Mason loved that I cared enough to do that for him.

And when I saw he was cast in an antibullying video I got the courage to tell him I had been bullied. I told him how it means a lot to me that he was doing this work and that I was happy to see he was going to play a hero. I felt since we had gotten so close in the summer and he was working to stop bullying he would understand how I felt. This was big for me since I had not told anyone I was bullied before. It makes me feel happy to have someone that I can trust to tell and let it out. Mason was really nice about it, he understood and told me that everyone has been bullied once. He is such a smart young man.

So even though I hard a very hard summer, the big silver lining was that I became better friends with Mason. Now that we are closer I feel like I have someone to talk to. It really shows how something good can come out of something pretty bad. Even though we were already friends, since I got hurt and sick we got closer and closer and it makes me so happy to call him my Best Friend. I know we will be friends forever. We will continue to chat online and one day we will talk over the phone. I know one day we will meet each other (it is my dream) and just hang out. All I can say is, Friendship really can make a difference in life.

My Thoughts On Stove Tots

aaastovetots2I was worried about the show when I read it was like Dance Moms. And then, when I watched Stove Tots I had very mixed feelings. I hated all the drama with the moms fighting over who’s child should win instead of focusing on the kids’ amazing cooking talents. It totally misses the point of the kids cooking shows. For me, the cooking and the friendships are most important. I like how creative the kids are in the kitchen and how nice they are to each other in the break room.


One of the things that really made me mad is how the show made Mason and his mom, Kathy, look very arrogant. They edited Mason’s words to make it seem like he only cares about winning cooking competitions. But, he is not like that. I have talked to him online and he is one of the most humble kids ever; he did not brag about how he won Chopped Jr. and he really liked meeting new friends on the show. In addition, Stove Tots made his mom look mean by showing her happy when Talia was having trouble. In reality, Kathy was actually happy another time and it was just edited to look that way. In real life, Mason and his mom have the sweetest Mom & Son relationship I have ever seen, but the show made it seem like they were always fighting. So, they made Kathy seem rude and happy when kids are failing, and Mason seem like he was just there to win, but this is not who they are. Also, Mason himself said he hated how they made him and his mom look since they are nice in real life. If I worked on Stove Tots I would show Mason as someone who is very nice and loves his mom, and his mom as someone who is proud of her son. That would be true reality television since that’s how they really are.

Unfortunately, the editing ruined the show for me. I’ve been a fan of Ryan Kate since Season 3 Master Chef Junior and would have enjoyed re-watching her win Stove Tots if they had not done that to my buddy, Mason. I was happy when I learned he and Ryan Kate became friends on the show and that his mom got along perfectly fine with other moms.

There were also things I liked about Stove Tots, like seeing some of my old favorites back in the kitchen. I was happy to see Chopped Junior winner, Caroline win again and for Zac, Elliot, Ayla, Ryan Kate and Jacob to get their wins in a television cooking competition.

It was also great to see Chris, Bryce, Nick, Paris and Kayla cooking again even though they didn’t win.

And, it was great to meet some new young chefs. I was happy Miles won in the first episode and thrilled when Devlyn won the eighth episode. Devlyn was my favorite new kid chef because he seemed so nice, like someone I would be friends with. I was happy about that.

Over all Stove Tots is just OK. I give it 5/10. I did not like the made up drama with the moms and false presentation of some of the kids. If the parents had to be on the show, I would have them as helpers and there for hugs if the kids got upset. I’d have the show focus on cooking, not fake drama. Or, instead of a parent have a best friend be the support person. That would be cool! I will still re-watch certain episodes because I like kids cooking shows, but not the ones that made the kids and their moms look bad.