Gordon Ramsay

MasterChef Junior: Season 4 Finale

It only took us four seasons, but we finally saw a girl vs. girl finale (actually– we finally saw a girl in the finale)!  Nine-year-old Avery faced off against nine-year-old Addison for the title.  Personally, I was happy to see both of these amazing girls in the finale and knew I’d be happy to see either of them win the title.

There is only one challenge in the finale: both girls cook an appetizer, entrée, and dessert, present them to Gordon, Christina, and Graham, all while their families and former competitors cheer them on from the balcony.

Here is what they make for their final stand in the MasterChef kitchen:

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Down the left, we have Avery’s appetizer, cream of asparagus soup with smoked oysters, creme fraiche, and a Creole crouton; her entrée, lobster and crawfish etouffee with crispy okra; and dessert, strawberry and rhubarb shortcake with orange chantilly cream.

Down the right, we have Addison’s appetizer, sake marinated shrimp with seaweed and sea bean salad, sour plums, and puffed rice; her entrée, miso black cod with bok choy, shiitake mushrooms, and coconut ginger broth; and dessert, green tea panna cotta with brûléed plums over crumbled cookie.

It was especially fun to see Christina during her first season of MasterChef Junior– while Gordon and Graham are well-acquainted with what ulta-talented kids can do, I think these girls knocked Christina’s socks off a little.  They always impress me, and I don’t even get to taste their creations!

The moment of truth comes, and it’s Addison for the win!

Congratulations to both girls!  What did you guys think about this season of MasterChef Junior?  I can’t wait to see another crop of kids come through this kitchen!

MasterChef Junior: Rise to the Occasion

Can you believe this was the semi-final of MasterChef Junior?!  That means the final showdown is THIS WEEK.  And the news is even better than that… well, we’ll get to that as we recap last week’s episode.

Addison, Amaya, Avery, and Zac are the final four.  Gordon, Graham, and Christina present a table with four cloches under which the find the heads of their parents!  (No, don’t worry, their bodies are under the table.)  Amaya’s mom, Avery’s dad, Zac’s mom, and Addison’s dad each offer them some advice and present them with a gift box of their flavor ingredient for the upcoming challenge: soufflés!  Amaya will make a dark chocolate soufflé, Avery will make strawberry, Zac will make milk chocolate, and Addison will make blackberry.  Gordon makes a little pun about them “rising to the occasion,” and they really do!

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Addison’s impressive rise literally made Christina gasp, and the judges agree that she is the winner of the challenge!  She gets the advantage in the finale Elimination Test.

Addison is presented with 4 cuts of pork and it’s her job to assign them.  She keeps ribs for herself, gives Amaya the loin, assigns Avery pork belly, and gives the tricky pig’s ears to Zac.

Here’s what they make:

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Addison’s fall-off the bone ribs impress, but the plating and presentation don’t impress.  Zac’s pig’s ear salad looks amazing, but the cook in not right on the ears.  Avery’s braised pork belly is the clear winner, cooked to perfection and possibly Christina’s favorite dish she’s eaten in the MasterChef kitchen.  We knew poor Amaya was in trouble when she sliced her pork loin and saw the raw center.  She is able to bring the temperature up with a second cook, but it wasn’t enough.

Avery is awarded the first spot in the finale, and Addison the second!  These are my favorite two little cooks left and I can honestly not wait to see what they do in the finale!  AND HECK YES FOR A GIRL FINALLY WINNING THIS COMPETITION.

Who do you think will take the title?!  Who are you cheering for?!

MasterChef Junior: Ramsayville

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Last week’s MasterChef Junior featured the top 6 home cooks preparing food for a Micheline star-studded group of guests.  The teams were catering a Gordon Ramsay party at his house!  We got to see beautiful views, his adorable dog, and a lot of normal Gordon Ramsay life activities, like the above.

Addison and Amaya, as the top two from the previous weeks, were team captains.  Amaya calls the coin toss and gets to add to her red team first– she chooses Zac and Avery.  Addison snags Kya and JJ for her blue team.

Both teams have trouble.  Amaya’s lack of leadership experience shows and Zac really ends up taking the lead on the team.  Amaya burns cabbage, has trouble with the venison temperatures, and both Gordon and Christina have to ask her if she’s okay.  It’s not pretty.  Likewise, the blue team is frazzled.  Kya burns some things too.  Worse, they are actually a portion short on their appetizers and Gordon takes that plate so not to embarrass himself in front of his guests.  The main course doesn’t go much better, as JJ spills a boiling pan of venison (straight out of the oven) directly on to Gordon Ramsay’s foot.  Maybe Gordon deserves that big ‘ol mansion to put up with these shenanigans.  He is actually a super great sport about it, running around in one shoe to help the kids finish and telling JJ it’s okay, but to get two more portions of venison going… which JJ promptly forgets.  Addison rallies her team which does finish strong.  It’s not enough, though.

Back in the MasterChef kitchen, the red team is declared the winner and Amaya, Zac, and Avery are saved from elimination.  As for the blue team, Gordon, Graham, and Christina have one person to save.  They choose Addison and break my heart by sending Kya home.  JJ is out too, but Kya hit me hart.  She was so cute about it, though, saying she can’t imagine what she’ll be doing at 18!  Truth, girl; you are so talented!

I honestly thought Kya was going all the way, guys!  My support is going to Avery now!  Who are you cheering on?!

MasterChef Junior: The Buddy System

I promised a second post for the second MasterChef Junior episode that aired last week, and here it is!  It’s just in time for tomorrow night’s new episode.

The top 8 came into the MasterChef kitchen to face a Mystery Box.  The theme of the day is besties, and Christina brings her bestie, her mom, in to introduce the Mystery Box.  When the kids pull up the box they see the ingredients Christina ate as a child, including chicken, broccoli, chocolate, strawberries, and “crispy rice cereal” of both the cocoa and fruity varieties.  The cooks get to Skype their besties of provided Surface tablets for inspiration, and then they cook! (more…)

MasterChef Junior: Devil’s in the Details

Happy Monday, folks!  Now that post-holiday TV schedules are normalizing, so should the blog… err, kinda.  With two new MasterChef Junior episodes last week, you’ll get one recap now and another later this week!  Before the new episode, of course.

The first new episode, “Hatching a Plan,” featured Graham Elliot in a chicken costume to highlight the challenge ingredient: eggs!  It’s a deviled egg challenge, and deviled eggs are one of my absolute favorite things.  Only four of the top 10 get to play, though, and they determine who that is by cracking the eggs in Graham’s basket over his head– two eggs are red (Zac & Kamilly) and two are blue (Kya & Amaya) and their recipients make up the competing teams.

There’s a third team, though, a yellow team of Gordon and Graham.  All teams must make as many deviled eggs as possible.  Gordon and Graham, in their tiny aprons, get half the amount of time as the junior home cooks, though.  If they win, all the cooks must compete in the elimination.  Christina judges and Yellow only gets three perfect eggs!  The winners are Zac & Kamilly with ten, thus they get to sit the challenge out and await the top 8.

The elimination challenge is introduced by Graham, who talks about his first ever cookbook.  The kids have been asked to prepare their cookbooks as well.

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Kya, you little achiever… you are the cutest thing!

The challenge is to cook their signature dish from their future cookbooks.  Here’s what the kids create:

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  • Avery’s étouffée blows the judges away.  She herself is surprised how much it tastes like her dad’s.
  • Kya is a mad genius.  She is firmly of the mindset that French cuisine is the finest in the world and prepares an expert canard a l’orange as proof.
  • Kaitlyn’s black forest cupcake just doesn’t hold a candle to the scale of her competitors’ dishes.
  • Amaya’s shrimp asopao delivers amazing depths of flavor and impresses the judges!
  • JJ’s fettuccine goes over well, but the judges wonder if it’s really him on a plate.
  • Sam’s bacon-wrapped chicken delivers as the young Boston home cook on a plate!
  • Addison over-whipped her first whip cream and, seemingly, under-whipped her second.  Her danish was visually underwhelming.
  • Corey’s jerk chicken looked so good, but it was shockingly raw inside.

Avery & Amaya were at the top of the pack for this challenge!

Kaitlyn, Addison, and Corey found themselves ranking in the bottom.  Addison is typically so impressive, so I’m glad that she got another chance.  Sadly, Kaitlyn and Corey went home.

Stay tuned for the next episode recap later this week!

MasterChef Junior: Taste it, Make it

Last week’s MasterChef Junior featured a classic Gordon Ramsay challenge– taste it, make it– with a twist!  First off, the kids were blindfolded so they couldn’t use their sight to gather any details about the dish they were to consumer.  Secondly, I don’t think we’ve ever seen our junior take on this challenge!  I was especially surprised by the results.

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We’re seen adults get the protein wrong with use of their eyes, so these kids seriously impressed me along with our judges– Gordon, Graham, and Christina.  The top tier was Kaitlyn, Kya, Ian, and Corey.  Kaitlyn and Kya win and end up team captains for the upcoming elimination challenge.

Kya, as the overall winner gets the choice of first pick of teammate, or pick of ingredient box: New England v. New Mexico.  Kya picks her ingredients and chooses New England– great choice, Kya!  Kaitlyn’s Blue Team includes great first pick Addison, Zac, Kamilly, JJ, and Amaya.  Kya’s Red Team is Avery, New Englander Sam, Corey, Jesse, and Ian.

In 90 minutes, the teams of young home cooks must prepare 31 dishes for VIP grandmas!  Red’s clam bake faces Blue’s pork loin and the grandmas vote to see which team goes straight through to the top 10… Blue!

While the Red Team faces some eliminations, Gordon says that two teammates did not deserve to be in the bottom– Sam and Avery.  They head up to the balcony leaving Kya, Corey, Jesse, and Ian.  Kya was team captain, so you can see why she bears responsibility, but she obviously isn’t going home.  Jesse and Ian are, and I must say, these were the right choices, as hard as it was to see Kya’s team go down.

Different episode, huh?  I can’t wait to see the kids create something of their own next time around!

MasterChef Junior: Lemons & Lobster

Last week’s MasterChef Junior had yet another team challenge in store for the young home cooks.  Graham unveils a lemonade stand, from which Christina will blind taste test raspberry mint lemonade prepared by the Red and Blue teams.

Gordon has the kids pull straws to choose teams.  Tae-Ho, Zac, Mia, Corey, Kaitlyn, Addison, and Amaya pull long straws and become the Blue Team.  Jesse, Kya, Kamily, Sam, Avery, Ian, and JJ pull short straws and become the Red Team.  The losing team faces a looming balloon full of lemonade.

When Christina announces the Red Team as the winners, the balloon above the Blue Team bursts, dowsing the kids in lemonade!  To keep things fair, Red’s balloon bursts too.  After a quick costume change, the winners head up to the balcony, and the losing team face a time warp challenge.

Groovy Gordon comes out, reppin’ the 1960’s and suggesting the kids make duck l’orange.  Graham does a little disco reppin’ the 1970’s and suggests the kids make chicken kiev.  Finally, Christina rollerskates out (promptly falling, but recovering!) representing the 1980’s and finally declaring the challenge: surf and turf.

Here’s what the kids make:

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In an episode that makes me feel so old, it’s kind of hilarious that Addison (born in 2005) makes steak Diane, but her dish is exceptionally well-received.  Tae-Ho’s use of sriracha on lobster is not to be forgiven.  Zac’s filet & lobster goes over well, especially considering he burn himself while cooking.  Amaya’s garlic sauce might have over-powered Graham’s palate, but the rest of her fish impresses.  Mia doesn’t cook her steak or lobster correctly, due to the fact that she’s a vegetarian and eats neither.  Kaitlyn’s beurre blanc sauce may not be “as good as her mom’s,” but it sure impresses Christina.  Corey’s New York Strip and lobster doesn’t shine, but is a good idea.

Kaitlyn is declared the winner!

Addison, Zac, and Amaya are all safe.

Corey is spared, and Mia and Tae-Ho are sent home.

I’m waiting to see all the kids cook again!  I’m still loving Sam and Kya, and we didn’t get a dish out of either of them this time around.  Addison is another one of my front-runners.  There are still a few that probably are a cut below the rest… thoughts?!

Birthday & ‘Bouche

Last week’s MasterChef Junior started outside of the kitchen.  The 16 young home cooks, driven by Christina Tosi, take a tractor ride to the coolest kids’ birthday party– there are carnival games, a bounce house, and a ferris wheel ridden by Gordon Ramsay & Graham Elliot!

It’s the first team challenge, and the MasterChef Junior contestants will be providing the food.  It’s not just one birthday party– it’s 6!  Since the home cooks are ages 8 – 13, there are birthday parties for each of the ages represented.  In addition to the 48 guests, there’s one more table with Gordon’s 4 children and Graham’s 3.  The cuteness!

Addison and Nate had the best two dishes from the previous week, so they’re the team captains.  Addison had the best dish, so she picks for her Blue Team first.  Her first pick is the best decision: Kya!  She also drafts Mia, Kaitlyn, Corey, Zac, Kamily, and Tae-Ho.  Nate’s first pick for his Red Team is Derek.  If you ask me, it should’ve been Sam… who he picked second, followed by JJ, Amaya, Jesse, Avery, and Ian.

They’ll be making fish tacos, chicken wings, and a turkey burger.  The losing team faces, as Kya notes, the first ever pressure test in MasterChef Junior!

Here’s what the teams come up with:

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There are hiccups on either end.  The Blue Team goes too flavor-aggressive at first, forgetting they need to adjust to kids’ palates, but from the start, Addison knew what she wanted and how to delegate.  Blue was organized where Red was not, and Blue takes the win!

To celebrate, Gordon orders the winners and the judges into the bounce house!  Christina beats some of the kids there.  Gordon & Graham’s kids join in too.

The Red Team faces the pressure test, and it’s a tall order: a croque-en-bouche!  While they’re shown one so tall that Gordon has to get a piggyback from Graham to pull a profiterole down, they only have to make a little one.  Results vary:

  • Sam’s is beautiful and perfectly filled.  Christina is pretty floored and offers him a job.
  • Nate’s is more a pile of cream puffs than a croque-en-bouche.  The caramel is burnt, pastry undercooked, and there’s not enough filling.
  • Jesse’s are well-shaped, but the caramel is too dark.
  • JJ presents his as “the leaning tower of croque-en-bouche.”  The taste is good!
  • Avery’s tower is not quite shaped right, but her tasty profiteroles save her.
  • Amaya’s is a little stout and the cream puffs needed a bit more time, but it’s tasty!
  • Ian’s is called a croque-en-mess and the shapes of the profiteroles are sufficiently mocked by Gordon.  They’re cooked right and the filling is sufficient, but Gordon straight up tells him he’s in the bottom.

Sam wins and impresses all!  ‘Atta boy, Boston!  Avery, Jesse, and JJ are declared safe.  Ian, Amaya, Nate, and Derek are left in the bottom.  Ian and Amaya stay, and Nate and Derek go.

I’m glad to see Amaya still in it, but I’m not seeing the potential in Ian… I guess we’ll see what they cook up next!  Thoughts?!

MasterChef Junior: 7 Layer Dip

Last week, Ian, Avery, and Kya’s previous top notch dishes landed them stints as team captains for a fun, obviously guacamole-sponsored, relay race!

Ian’s team includes Jesse, Amaya, JJ, Zac, and Mia.  Avery is backed by Adam, Jaeclyn, Derek, Kaitlyn, and Tae-Ho.  Kya’s team is Addison, Sam, Kammily, Corey, and Nate.  Because this is MasterChef Junior, the winning team (aka the team who assembles all 7 layers the fastest) gets to dunk their judge’s face right into their completed dip.  Ian and crew is playing to dunk Christina, Avery and company for Graham, and Kya’s team is in it for Gordon.

Ian’s team wins a major advantage, the opportunity to sit the elimination out, and of course, Christina’s fate– “Nothing in life prepares you for this,” she states right before Ian pushes her face into the bowl of 7 layer dip.  Avery and Kya follow suit dunking Graham and Gordon respectively proving that Gordon will let these kids punish him every single time.  What a guy!

Ian’s team heads into the pantry to take control of the elimination challenge.  The choices are “spicy” ingredients, as presented by Christina whose family tells her she can sometimes be just that, “stinky” ingredients, as presented by Graham who gets that way after a gym sessions, and “wrinkly” ingredients, as presented by Gordon who literally could not make me smile more.

The challenge to the 12 kids in the kitchen is “stinky” ingredients.  Here’s what they make:

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L to R, T to B: Addison, Derek, Kya, Avery, Jaeclyn, Corey, Nate, Adam.

The standouts include Addison, who makes a dish I have never heard of with flavors that make the judges nervous, but deliver!  Also up there is Nate, who’s become hilariously confident.  Nate is called out for his accomplishment, but Addison wins!

Corey, Jaeclyn, and Adam find themselves in the bottom.  Corey is released back to the kitchen and Jaeclyn and Adam are sent home.  Adam didn’t let his pasta rest and cooked food in truffle oil… which even I know is wrong.  Jaeclyn just didn’t seem to be on the same level as some of these kids– her palate was not as adventurous and expansive and ultimately, she suffered for that.

Something tells me we’ve still not seen what some of these kids can really do!  Addison and Kya are standing out, we’ve seen Avery and Nate deliver knock-outs, and I’m still seeing so much potential in my hometown hero, Sam!  I’ve also got an eye on Amaya.  We’ve not gotten to see much of her food yet, but she is too cute.

Thoughts?!

MasterChef Junior: The Moon & The Sea

This title is not only relevant to the episode, but also my main interests in life… on to MasterChef Junior!

The Mystery Box comes with one big mystery box containing the judges in space suits.  Astronaut Tracy Dyson guests and impresses the heck out of both the children and me.  Since, as Tracy says, real astronauts know that the moon is made of cheese, the kids pull open their Mystery Boxes to see a bunch of different cheeses.  Their task is to make an out of this world cheese dish.  (Thank you, MCJ; so much better than marshmallows!)

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Addison, Kaitlyn, and JJ have the top dishes.

Kaitlyn wins!  Before her advantages are announced, the judges take it back to earth for the elimination test– they wheel out a bunch of fish.  To tie to moon to the sea, Graham shows the kids how to filet a fish using the GIANT moon fish.

Kaitlyn doesn’t have to cook and also gets to pick a peer to go through to the next round with her.  She chooses Addison.  Kaitlyn also gets to act as fish monger, tossing the chosen fishes to the kids about to cook.

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L to R, T to B: Avery, Jaeclyn, Derek, Vivian, Kya, Kyndall, Nate, Ian

Avery is so spunky.  Her decision making process for this dish seemed to be “my daddy likes it,” and that was just too cute.  Jaecelyn didn’t taste her fish because she doesn’t like it.  Derek is praised for having the best palate in the MCJ kitchen.  Vivian’s sauce doesn’t go with fish.  Kya is the cutest thing and my current favorite.  Kyndall’s veggies are uncooked.  Nate impresses with Asian flavors despite the fact that he’s “not really Asian.”  Too cute.  Ian’s dish goes well despite not needing the potatoes, but MAN this kid makes me nervous in the kitchen.  I’m not sure about his skills.

Nate is the winner!

Jaeclyn, Vivian, and Kyndall are called out for bottom dishes.  Jaeclyn is sent back to cook another day.  Vivian and Kyndall go home.

We’ve still got 18 kids in the kitchen and some still have a way to go to distinguish themselves.  Anyone sticking out in the pack to you?  I’m loving Kya and Sam!