One of the best things about MasterChef Junior is seeing the kids’ faces each time they enter the kitchen. Most are overwhelmed with the excitement of living out a dream. They’re all just so happy to be there — well, until they’re told their food is terrible and are forced to leave forever. But for now, they’re just so happy!
Tonight, the 22 chefs still left in the competition have even more reason for excitement: A special guest arrives to judge a frosting-filled challenge and the kids get to learn how to shuck scallops. Okay, they might be a little more into the former than the latter. Actually, you never know with the kids on this show. That’s why we love them so much!
FROST ON, FROST OFF
For the first challenge of the night, the judges call last week’s top three chefs — Sam, Jesse, and my future BFF, Addison — up to the front of the kitchen. They’ll be competing against one another in a cupcake-frosting race. I’m not as much of an “athlete” as I am, what some may refer to as, “lazy,” but if all races involved a table covered in cupcakes, I might be persuaded to participate.
The kids have 10 minutes to frost as many cupcakes as perfectly as Christina demonstrates (it’s all in the wrist). The winner will get immunity from elimination and the losers will, well, they’ll have to press a giant button that unleashes an insane amount of frosting on whichever judge the kid is paired with. So basically, everyone wins.
Addison plays for Gordon (even though she’s half tempted to throw the competition in order to see the judge covered in vanilla frosting), Sam’s with Graham, and Jesse is tasked with protecting Christina’s lovely dress from a pink frosting disaster. Since the judges are obviously biased, as giant piping bags of delicious frosting hang over their heads, they call upon MasterChef Junior season 2 winner, the Cupcake King himself, Logan Guleff to officiate this round. There’s some adorable flirting (Can 9-year-olds flirt? That’s a serious question.) between Logan and Addison, with an assist from master chef and master matchmaker Gordon Ramsay, and then the kids are off.
When it’s all said and done, Sam and his 29 perfectly frosted chocolate cupcakes win the immunity and he’s sent off to the great cupcake balcony in the sky (or, like, up the stairs overlooking the kitchen). That means Gordon and Christina need to prepare for their frosting shower. Kyndall, who last week taught us about the healing powers of candy, sees Christina’s beautiful shoes about to get doused in frosting and is horrified (“Take the shoes off first! TAKE THE SHOES OFF FIRST.”). I worship Kyndall now. She’s so wise!
The frosting rains down on Gordon and Christina, and it looks both insanely sticky and insanely fun. Alas, the frosting food fight (complete with sprinkles!) can’t last forever — there are kids’ dreams to be crushed! The judges use TV magic to de-frost themselves in seconds and then it’s on to…
THE ELIMINATION CHALLENGE
Since the cupcake challenge was all about outer beauty, Gordon wants to use the elimination challenge to focus on a food that is all about inner beauty (MasterChef Junior, where does your cooking start and your life lessons end?) Get ready, people: It’s a scallop challenge!
The kids have one hour to come up with a scallop dish that wows the judges. But there’s a twist: the chef-testants will have to shuck the scallops themselves. For some of the kiddos, like Tae-Ho, this added obstacle is no sweat. Others, like Vivian and some of her friends from various landlocked states, already know this is extremely outside their comfort zone. Gordon gives a quick shucking lesson and then sends the kids off to the MasterChef pantry to create a dish that highlights tonight’s featured ingredient.
Nine of the 22 remaining kid chefs are called forward to present their scallops. Here’s what they came up with:
Tae-Ho, 12, Chula Vista, CA
Seared Scallops (with risotto and brussels sprouts)
Tae-Ho has a passion for two things: seafood and Gordon Ramsay. He is living his dream tonight. Gordon is not only impressed that the tween’s scallops are perfectly seared (a nice, even brown on both sides), but he can’t believe Tae-Ho can make such an impressive risotto. Turns out, Tae-Ho taught himself how to make risotto from a recipe out of a Gordon Ramsay cookbook. STOP BROWN NOSING, KID. It’s not like he needs any extra help, anyway. Gordon is blown away by the sheer number of technical abilities (there’s also a jalapeño and poblano pepper salsa) Tae-Ho has demonstrated on one dish. It’s one of the best of the night, for sure.
Nate, 10, Philadelphia, PA
Seared Scallops (with cauliflower mash)
Is Nate gunning for the Mr. Congeniality award? He’s just so happy to be here. He’s also happy to be cooking seafood. Spending summers at the Jersey Shore has made him a seafood addict, and now he gets to make a seafood dish in Gordon Ramsay’s kitchen. He’s living his best life. Christina can see his love for scallops in his dish—they’re cooked well and are the stars of the plate. His side, however, could use some more flavor. He’s in the middle of the pack for this challenge.
NEXT: The only time in history that pasta is a bad decision