Child cooks mas­ter­ful on tele­vised com­pe­ti­tion

Winnipeg Free Press - Section G - - ENTERTAINMENT - By An­drea Bail­lie

TORONTO — If you were blown away watch­ing the kid con­tes­tants on the in­au­gu­ral run of Masterchef Ju­nior just wait for Sea­son 2, says judge Gra­ham El­liot. “We had no idea it was go­ing to take off the way it did,” El­liot said dur­ing a re­cent stop in Toronto to shoot a guest ap­pear­ance on the up­com­ing sea­son of Masterchef Canada. “What’s re­ally fun is that the level of cook­ing com­pared to Sea­son 1 is even higher be­cause ev­ery­one knows about it now.” In­deed, the pint-sized chefs on Masterchef Ju­nior made a big im­pres­sion. Ap­ple-cheeked win­ner Alexan­der Weiss wowed au­di­ences in the fi­nale with his pan-seared veal chop over potato gnoc­chi and de­con­structed napoleon can­noli. El­liot — who serves on the judg­ing panel for Masterchef Ju­nior and Masterchef with Gor­don Ram­say and Joe Bas­tianich — says the con­tes­tant pool for the kid cook­ing show was not at all what he ex­pected. “You think you’re go­ing to get kids want­ing to do the Hol­ly­wood thing, but you re­al­ize that cook­ing is this cre­ative out­let now be­cause kids are born into this food-TV life­style and ex­pe­ri­ence new things and a lot of them are well trav­elled,” he said. “You see ev­ery­one that’s got this great pas­sion for cook­ing and it’s con­ta­gious. By day two, Joe, Gor­don and I for­get that they’re even kids be­cause of the level they’re putting up in terms of food, but also their level of con­cen­tra­tion.” View­ers who watched the re­cent sea­son of Masterchef no­ticed a dras­tic phys­i­cal change in El­liot, who un­der­went weight-loss surgery just over a year ago, drop­ping some 150 pounds in the process. Masterchef Ju­nior was part of the im­pe­tus, he said. “The big change, and you know Masterchef Ju­nior was a part of it, is sit­ting up there talk­ing to kids about eat­ing healthy and about how they’re the fu­ture of Amer­ica and they need to make th­ese great choices, and I was 400 pounds... and just felt I was liv­ing this big lie and you need to try to lead by ex­am­ple, es­pe­cially for my own kids.” In prepa­ra­tion for the up­com­ing sea­son, El­liot said Masterchef Ju­nior vis­ited all 50 states and saw a di­verse range of cook­ing styles. “Kids are do­ing things that are in­dica­tive of their re­gion, their back­ground and their up­bring­ing, and also (there were) peo­ple that cook from the heart and it’s re­ally rus­tic, kids that have a pretty priv­i­leged up­bring­ing and have been to all the fancy French restau­rants and done the tast­ing menus — so it’s re­ally cool to see that gamut,” he said. Masterchef Ju­nior airs Tues­day at 7 p.m. on Fox.


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