Three courses, two kid cooks, and one 'MasterChef Junior' title
Credit: Greg Gayne/Fox

Welcome to the MasterChef Junior finale, friends! After weeks of watching 24 talented kid chefs duke it out over croquembouche, surf and turf, and cheese on cheese on cheese, we’re down to the two young home cooks left standing: Addison and Avery. Tonight’s finale will the pit the two tiny blond girls against one another in a head-to-head, three-course, full-menu challenge. On the line: the coveted MasterChef Junior title, $100,000 to make all their dreams comes true, and the respect and admiration of Gordon Ramsay.

Before we get to the cooking, let’s size up our two competitors:

Addison, princess of America’s heartland, has been the clear front-runner from probably before this thing even started. She’s won more challenges than anyone else this season, and she’s won all of our hearts with her addiction to both softball and sweets.

Addison has dreams of owning a bakery called Batter Up Bakery and she rocks a backwards baseball hat with the flair of someone twice her age. She’s pretty much cooler than all of us, and we’d be lucky if she let us sit at her lunch table. She’s also revealed herself to be a very versatile and technically skilled chef. Addison’s a dessert queen who can also create high-end restaurant quality dishes with Asian influences. And let’s not forget those short ribs. Never forget the short ribs.

While it’s Addison’s game to lose, and most would’ve guessed we’d be watching Kya or Zac attempt to take her title, Avery is completely deserving of her finale spot. The strength of Miss Pigtails is her deep understanding and passion for her Southern roots.

Avery’s a bayou girl, and that is always reflected in her cooking. It’s rare for such a tiny human to really know who she is, but Avery does, and she’s able to translate that onto her plate. She’s been playing a slow and steady game this season, circling the leader board with dishes that didn’t always win, but were contenders nonetheless. She also called a bunch of grandmas “darlin’” and that is just the cutest.

Before one of the gals can claim the top spot, they have a final challenge: In tonight’s finale, there are no gimmicks or games, no marshmallows falling from the sky, or, sadly, Graham in a chicken suit; there is just plain old cooking. Addison and Avery will each cook a three-course meal – appetizer, entrée, and dessert – to demonstrate to the judges not only how talented they are, but how much they’ve grown over the competition. Oh, and this is going to happen as all of their friends and family watch on from The Balcony of Safety and Dreams (and Milkshakes). So, no pressure.

Addison’s menu goes heavy on those Asian influences she’s toyed around with in other challenges, and she’s all about presenting refined, high-end dishes to the judges. Avery, on the other hand, is sticking to her bayou roots. She’ll be cooking three courses of classic, yet elevated, Southern cooking. The judges are excited by both menus, and accurately predict that this finale will be the closest yet. Alas, only one can win because this is television and life is hard.


Addison, 9, River Forest, IL

Sake Marinated Shrimp (with seaweed and sea bean salad, sour plums, and puffed rice)

Addison’s drawn to Asian-inspired dishes because of their bold flavors – which is exactly what she presents to the judges with her first course. She’s cooking with high quality ingredients, and elevates them further with her technique. Gordon feels like he’s sitting in an upscale Japanese restaurant and is blown away by Addison’s modern take on her perfectly-cooked shrimp. Graham, too, is a fan of this appetizer and praises her use of mint to keep the dish clean and light but still full of big flavors. It’s a balance that even the best chefs have a tough time finding, and Addison is only 9. Did you guys know she’s only 9?

Avery, 9, Baton Rouge, LA

Cream of Asparagus Soup (with smoked oysters, crème fraiche, and creole crouton)

It must be tough to stand there and listen as the judges gush over your competitor’s first dish, but Avery handles it like a pro — probably because she knows her dish is a knockout. Gordon is apprehensive — because only peasants eat soup as appetizers, I guess? — but once he gets a mouthful of that insanely vibrant green asparagus soup, he’s no longer worried. Aside from his slightly overcooked oyster (the other judges didn’t have this problem), everything else is great. It’s rustic, but classy. Graham commends Avery for her decision to smoke the oysters; it infuses the dish with a depth of flavor. So, I guess round one is a toss-up?

NEXT: There can only be one ‘MasterChef Junior’ champion


Addison, 9, River Forest, IL

Miso Black Cod (with bok choy, shiitake mushrooms, and coconut ginger broth)

Though Addison’s entree looks unbelievable, Gordon has some concerns. Mainly, he’s worried that since she broiled the fish, and only cooked one piece, she has no idea how it turned out. Before he cuts into the cod, he tells her that the cook on this fish could be worth $100,000, but NO PRESSURE. The drama is short-lived: The fish is cooked perfectly. The only thing Gordon doesn’t like about the dish is the fact that he has to share it. Play nice, Gordon! Graham tells Addy her dish is “so tasty, it’s stupid,” which I guess is a good thing? I don’t know, I’m an old person. Christina finds the whole thing a touch too salty, but come on sister, we all know that was a reach – and we can’t even taste the food.

Avery, 9, Baton Rouge, LA

Seafood Étouffée (with crispy okra and white rice)

Avery excelled with an étouffée earlier in the season, and if it ain’t broke, why fix it? Even before tasting it, Gordon is impressed with the risk Avery took by cooking lobster, one of the most difficult proteins to get right. But, get it right she does. Gordon can’t stop heaping praise on the cook of the lobster. It’s like butter. Everything around the lobster is great, too — nice sauce, perfect Creole seasoning — but the lobster is the star. When Christina comments that she wishes Avery had done just a little more, Gordon thinks she’s harping too much on aesthetics. Yes, Addison’s dish was beautiful, but cooking a perfect lobster is no easy feat.


Addison, 9, River Forest, IL

Green Tea Panna Cotta (with cookie crumbles and brû​léed plums)

Panna Cotta is a risky dessert to attempt in such a limited amount of time. The dessert needs to set, otherwise it’s soup (and we all know how anti-soup Gordon is). Addison hits a time snag when she cuts her finger and has to stop to get checked out by a medic. It’s no big deal, but she does lose some time and focus. Luckily, Addison’s a pro and she plates a perfectly set panna cotta in time. Graham gives a thumbs-up to the texture and flavors, but thinks the proportion of plums is off. Christina thinks Addison got the green tea flavor just right, and loves the cookie crumble; Gordon disagrees. He thinks the cookie dried out the dessert, and after two perfect dishes, this one just doesn’t make the cut.

Avery, 9, Baton Rouge, LA

Strawberry Shortcake (with rhubarb and orange chantilly cream)

Avery realizes that serving shortcake to Christina Tosi could be disastrous — but not when you make a shortcake as good as Avery does. Seriously, out of all of the complex, refined dishes the three judges have tasted tonight, strawberry shortcake is the one they go gaga for. According to Christina, the cake is buttery and flaky, and the orange cream adds some refinement. Graham likes that with only three-ish ingredients on the plate, Avery proved that less can be more. Gordon seconds that sentiment, and applauds Avery for taking a classic dish and doing it well.

To deliberations! The judges are having a tough time calling this one, since both girls accomplished what they set out to do. Addison wanted to present a modern and complex meal with bold flavors, while Avery wanted to cook what she cooks best: classic Creole dishes she’d have back at home, but elevated for the occasion.

The judges know they need to pick the winner based on the overall menu and keep in mind that this kid chef should represent the future of their industry. Well, when you put it that way, the answer is clear. Gordon, Graham, and Christina anoint Addison as the winner of MasterChef Junior.

Confetti rains down on the MasterChef kitchen, and the room erupts to congratulate Addison as she takes the trophy and her $100,000 check.

And that’s all she wrote on MasterChef Junior season 4. Beef was braised, fish was fileted, and dreams were made — well, some were crushed, but most were made. Hopefully, some day soon we can all grab a soufflé at Batter Up Bakery, but, until then, keep cooking — or, you know, watching other people cook on nationally televised cooking competitions.

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MasterChef Junior
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