MasterChef Junior recap: A Gordon Ramsay Dinner Party
We’re mere weeks away from naming the new champion, so MasterChef Junior is pulling out all the stops. We’re treated to a three Michelin star lunch, tears, Gordon Ramsay in a bathrobe, King George the Dog, and scalding hot venison being dumped on a culinary giant’s foot. What more could you want as we hurtle toward the semi-finals?
Before we can find out who in the Top 6 will be moving on to those semis, our young cooks have to face one of the most stressful challenges yet: catering a Gordon Ramsay party. Our tiny chefs are split into two teams, chosen by last week’s winners, Addison and Amaya, and are responsible for feeding 20 of Gordon’s friends, all of whom are accustomed to top-notch Ramsay parties and have very discerning palates. They won’t be serving any old meal, either: They’re making two dishes straight out of the Gordon Ramsay stable of recipes. So, yeah, the pressure is on.
Next stop, Ramsayville! You guys, Ramsayville is real, and it’s spectacular. Before the chefs arrive (being chauffeured by Graham and Christina in convertibles, no less), Gordon is just straight up relaxing with his pup, King George. He’s sitting poolside in a bathrobe, gardening in a bathrobe, taking in the full splendor of his land in a bathrobe. I imagine this is all very true to life. It has to be.
Once the kids show up, there’s no time for adult relaxation – it’s straight to work. The chefs head to the outdoor kitchen and get a quick demo on the menu items from Gordon. Seriously, how amazing is it for these young chefs to stand there and get this kind of cooking lesson from someone like Gordon Ramsay? This is the real prize, kids! But also, the money.
For the first course of this VIP lunch, the kids will be serving pan seared snapper with rainbow chard and shellfish broth. Each team is responsible for 13 plates, all to be served at the same time. Timing and good team communication are everything in this challenge.
The Red Team: Amaya, Zac, and Avery
Team Captain Amaya splits up the work by having each chef focus on a different component of the dish. When Gordon catches wind of this, he is not pleased. He pulls the team aside for a chat. Having each person work on a component of the dish without solid communication is a recipe for disaster. Each chef should be making four to five full plates. With this one change in strategy, the Red Team is able to refocus and pull together 13 great dishes.
They earn rave reviews from Gordon’s friends – who, by the way, have no idea their meal is being cooked by children – who commend the Red Team for the chard’s crispy skin and perfect sear. Looks like Gordon and his pep talk saved the day…again.
The Blue Team: Addison, Kya, and JJ
The Blue Team has the opposite cooking experience of the Red Team. Captain Addison is skilled enough in the kitchen to realize the best way to tackle this challenge is by having each chef cook complete dishes – just like Gordon’s advice. The only problem is that Addison is the only person on her team who really came to cook today. It’s surprising since Kya has been such a strong chef all season, but tonight, she and JJ are completely overwhelmed; they burn fish, forget how to make simple sauces, and completely lose one portion of snapper – leaving Gordon with an empty plate to serve.
Gordon Ramsay isn’t even mad, he’s just disappointed. Just kidding – he’s totally mad, too. Thankfully, the Blue Team makes up for their kitchen misfires with taste. They earn mostly great reviews from the guests.
If you thought one round of three Michelin star-level cooking was intense, get ready for round two. The already exhausted chefs will be cooking venison loin with cabbage, gnocchi, and chanterelles. It’s an intimidating dish with lots of components and a delicate protein that has to be cooked perfectly. To say the kids start to buckle under the pressure here is an understatement.
NEXT: A new leader steps up to the plate
The Red Team: Amaya, Zac, and Avery
Amaya, still getting over her meltdown during the tag team challenge last week, is starting to stress. The sheer amount of ingredients and steps to this dish are overwhelming, and she isn’t communicating with her team, like, at all. Christina tries her best to get Amaya’s head back in the game once she starts crying, and for a moment, it seems like it works. But, once Gordon notes that all of her venison is overcooked, Amaya pretty much shuts down. When Gordon pulls Zac aside to see what’s going on, he admits that their team captain is failing them.
Thankfully, Zac is an all-star. He easily takes command, and since he knows Avery, the hunter, can cook venison in her sleep, he leaves cooking the meat to her…and basically everything else he does on his own. The judges are impressed with his calm leadership and multi-tasking skills. It’s safe to say that even if the Red Team loses, Zac won’t be going home.
Gordon’s friends are fans of the Red Team’s entrée as well. They find the presentation to be stunning and the meat cooked well. Gordon harps on some under-seasoned cabbage, but considering where the Red Team started, this is all good news.
The Blue Team: Addison, Kya, and JJ
After the appetizer debacle, Gordon pulls Addison aside to make sure she’s ready to get her team focused. He talks to her about leading her softball team and it’s all very cute and also effective. Our Addison is back, making sure her team has all the support it needs and attempting to keep morale up. Sadly, having one member focused on winning isn’t enough. As JJ is pulling the pans of searing hot venison out of the oven, he fumbles and the entire thing lands on Gordon’s foot. The dude is in pain, and JJ has just injured one of the world’s best chefs. It’s very embarrassing. Even worse, as the time for plating looms, Gordon sees two pieces of raw venison – there to replace what was spilled – sitting, unattended. JJ was supposed to cook them, and completely forgot. Gordon wonders if this team just wants to go home – I think JJ might actually take him up on the offer for a minute.
In the end, they get all 13 plates finished for service. The guests are mixed on the Blue Team’s venison. Some find it completely on point and really well-seasoned, others note that their venison is over-cooked. It’s a toss up.
After the meal, Gordon reveals the chefs behind it all. His guests are so blown away to see six kids walk out, they give them a standing ovation. Maybe I’m crying a little bit. Our kids did it! They presented a three Michelin star meal and lived to tell the tale. Of course, some kids did it better, and there is going to be an elimination, but can’t we just bask in the glow of pride for a little longer?
Back at the MasterChef kitchen, the judges reveal that two members of the losing team will be going home tonight. So, any way you cut it, we’re losing someone who at some point has been considered a contender for the title. This one’s going to hurt.
Though the competition was close, the Red Team wins, and Zac, Amaya, and Avery are all sent to the Balcony of Safety. Amaya should never stop thanking her teammates, because those two carried that girl through this round.
This leaves Addison, Kya, and JJ up for elimination. It’s obvious that Addison is the one member of the Blue Team who should be saved, which means JJ and Kya – the one time front-runner – are sent home. When the two are asked who they think is going to win this whole thing, JJ goes for Zac and Kya picks Addison. I can’t help but nod my head with both of those answers. Now that Kya is gone, if we don’t get an Addison vs. Zac showdown at the end of this whole thing, then what are we even doing here?