MasterChef Junior recap: Hatching a Plan/Tag Team Time
Double the episodes, double the eliminations
Can you believe we’ve made it to the top 10? Tonight, our kid chefs enter the kitchen and find only Gordon and Christina awaiting their arrival. Graham is waiting to make his big entrance – in a chicken suit, of course.
The kids correctly guess that their first challenge of the night will be egg related. Only four lucky kids will get to compete for immunity in the Elimination Test. To decide who gets a spot, each cheftestant grabs an egg and cracks it over Graham’s head – he is the top chicken after all – if the yolk is red or blue, they’re moving on to compete.
In the end, Zac and Kamilly grab spots on the red team, while Kya and Amaya don blue aprons. They’ll be working in teams to see who can make the most correctly cooked deviled eggs in 12 minutes.
You didn’t think it would be that simple did you? Tonight’s twist might be my favorite one this season: There will be a third team competing, and it’s Gordon and Graham. To keep things fair, this yellow team will only have six minutes to peel their eggs, blend their filling, and season their eggs to perfection.
Obviously, they won’t let Gordon and Graham win the challenge, but it is fun to watch the two chefs grab their MasterChef Junior aprons and do their thing. After 12 minutes, Christina inspects each team’s plates and deems Zac and Kamilly the winners. They’re sent to the Great Safety Zone in the Sky, and their fellow eight competitors settle in to hear what their Elimination Test will entail.
THE ELIMINATION TEST
Tonight’s test is all about dreams! Graham admits that his childhood dream of publishing a cookbook just came true — plug, plug — and the kiddos were asked to begin writing their own. Tonight, they’ll pull one signature recipe from those adorable handmade books — Kya named hers Kya’s Culinary Kaleidoscope, you guys! — and attempt to show the judges who they are as chefs and people. This show is real deep, y’all.
After 60 minutes of cooking, the judges select two dishes for best of the night:
Avery, 9, Baton Rouge, LA
Crawfish Étouffée (with rice)
The judges are blown away by how perfectly this dish sums up who Avery is. She eats, lives, and breathes the bayou, and it really shows. Gordon finds it visually stunning, and Christina thinks the flavors are bold and the amount of crawfish is spot on. They all agree that Avery made her papa proud.
Amaya, 10, Bergenfield, NJ
Shrimp Asopao (with fried plantains)
Amaya’s dish also stands out because of how connected it is to her. She chose a Dominican stew that had been cooked by her grandmother and mother. Christina is wowed by the depth and complexity of the flavors, and Graham thinks Amaya did a great job of letting the star ingredient – the shrimp – really shine.
Not everyone was able to present a plate with personality as well as those two ladies, though. The judges found three dishes to be sub-par in this signature dish challenge:
Kaitlyn, 11, Yorktown Heights, NY
Black Forest Cupcake (with raspberries)
Poor Kaitlyn knew she was in trouble from the get-go. When Gordon found out all she was presenting was one cupcake with simple frosting, he warned that she better make the best cupcake of her life. That’s a lot of pressure for an 11-year old, and we all know how well Kaitlyn copes with pressure. Well, the cupcake looks great, but the frosting is so buttery it’s almost inedible, and Gordon once again calls her out for only making a cupcake, instead of a fully realized dish.
Addison, 9, River Forest, IL
Apple Danish (with orange and passion fruit cream)
This is not a typo – Addison is in the bottom three. Though dessert is definitely her thing, and Christina applauds her creative flavor combinations, all the judges agree our girl Addy can do better than a Danish. It tastes fine, but the presentation is underwhelming and it doesn’t really represent the spunky, technically skilled kid chef we know and love.
Corey, 12, Surprise, AZ
Jerk Chicken (with red rice and carrots)
Corey’s homage to his Caribbean roots suffers from a big case of the I-forgot-to-turn-the-oven-ons. It’s cool, Corey, we’ve all been there. He swears he actually baked his chicken for 35 minutes, but his completely raw meat tells a different story. Gordon can’t taste the main ingredient, and the sides are all undercooked as well. He was a fan of the idea, but the execution is a complete misfire.
It’s no surprise that the judges send Kaitlyn and Corey home. There’s lots of tears with this one, mainly from Kaitlyn, but also from me when Gordon tells her, “head up high, my darling.” SWOON. Don’t worry, Kait, you’ll totally appreciate that more in, like, six years.
We should all stop our crying though – there’s another full hour of MasterChef Junior to go! Our top 8 find a dreaded Mystery Box awaiting each of them at their stations. To fill us in on what ingredients await, we have a special guest: Christina’s BFF and mom, Greta! She’s so excited to be here, probably because she’s ready to crush some kids’ dreams. I’m just guessing!
NEXT: A Mystery Box Challenge puts Christina Tosi in the spotlight
THE MYSTERY BOX CHALLENGE
Christina’s mom has brought along a Mystery Box full of ingredients that Christina used to eat as a child – everything from chicken and broccoli to chocolate and fruity rice cereal. The kids, armed with some extra inspiration after getting time to video chat with their BFFs, will have 60 minutes to make any dish they want using Christina’s favorite foods.
Most of the chefs opt for desserts since, duh, this is Christina Tosi we’re talking about, but a few opt for a savory dish. The judges call three kids forward for a closer look, and one of them will win a big advantage in the next elimination test.
The three contenders are:
Addison, 9, River Forest, Illinois
Strawberry Tart (with chocolate and cereal milk)
There, that’s better. Addison makes a “redemption dessert” to prove she is a great baker, and scores. Christina and her mom are big fans of the presentation, and although the crust could’ve been cooked a little longer, the flavors are strong and delicious. It also doesn’t hurt that Addison makes one of Christina’s signature creations – cereal milk. Brown-nosers for the win!
Zac, 12, Orlando, Florida
Pan Seared Chicken (with potato purée, broccoli and crispy potato noodles)
Zac takes a risk and goes the savory route, and it works in his favor. The judges commend not only his actual decision to make a savory dish in order to stand out, but also that his simple ingredients showed off his technique. Everything on the plate is cooked perfectly.
Sam, 10, Charleston, South Carolina
Chocolate Mousse (with strawberry coulis)
Sam almost burns down the kitchen when he decides to bake his cereal, but lives to tell the tale. The judges make it clear that he was not called forward because of his presentation – the cup of mousse covered in fruity rice cereal is a complete mess – but it tastes good. And that’s what really counts.
Zac and his risky savory dish take the win, and with it, an advantage in what turns out to be the most stressful elimination challenge to-date: The dreaded Tag Team Challenge.
TAG TEAM CHALLENGE
The kids will be put into four teams of two people, and only one of them can cook at a time. Every ten minutes or so, the judges will call for a switch, and the other teammate will pick up where the first left off. It’s all about communication.
It’s also all about street food, as the teams will have to cook five different types of street food from around the world: samosas from India, arancini and marinara sauce from Italy, spring rolls from Vietnam, beef in steamed buns from China, and lamb kofta from Greece. Sounds both delicious and intimidating.
Zac’s big advantage is that not only does he get to select his teammate, but he also gets to pair up the other contestants. Zac’s already proven himself to be a strategist, and he doesn’t disappoint here. He takes Kya, of course, and pairs Sam and Kamilly together, hoping the quiet ones will have issues with communication, Addison and Amaya, knowing their personalities will clash (the girls know it, too), and JJ and Avery, because, well, they were the last ones left.
Amaya and Addison
“Their personalities will clash” was a huge understatement. These gals argue with one another the entire time. And after Christina pays them a visit and tells Amaya that they steamed the buns way too early and should be focusing on other items, Amaya loses it. Before Amaya can have a full meltdown, Addison reins her partner back in. The judges are skeptical when the ladies present their food, but even amongst all the yelling (so much yelling!), they end up plating five stellar dishes. Gordon can’t believe they pulled it all together, and reminds them that pressure can be healthy.
Zac and Kya
Zac and Kya immediately impress the judges with how well they’re communicating. They aren’t particularly shouty, no one is having a mental breakdown, and they know which steps need to get done as soon as the clock starts. It isn’t until they present their platter that the judges realize there’s a problem: They’re completely missing the spring rolls and weren’t able to make some of the accompanying sauces in time. On top of that, the items that they were able to plate aren’t very good. Their time management issues send them directly to the bottom.
JJ and Avery
Like Amaya and Addison, JJ and Avery get a little visit from one of the judges to tell them they’re cooking completely out of order. When Gordon realizes JJ and Avery – the self-proclaimed “meat people” of the group – decided it was more important to marinate their cucumbers before cooking and marinating the beef, he almost blows a gasket. He covers it up by asking JJ if he’s become a vegetarian, but you can tell he’s not happy about such a big mistake. No matter though, the kids present a platter with a few missing items, but unlike Kya and Zac, all of the items they did manage to plate are winners.
Sam and Kamilly
Hand it to Zac, he was right about the communication issues this pairing would have. Gordon tells them that they’re working as two individuals and not as a cohesive team, and it shows in their cooking. Sam knows they were overwhelmed, but hopes for the best. Unfortunately, there are some major mistakes. When Gordon opens up the lamb and sees it is completely raw inside, he tells the chefs that the only thing missing is the wool. Ouch, Gordon is very saucy tonight. The samosa and spring rolls work, but the judges are disappointed in the pair’s complete lack of communication.
Amaya and Addison, although not the best teammates, are great cooks, and the food they presented was well above the rest. They’re this season’s Tag Team Challenge winners.
Unfortunately for Kamilly and Sam, we all know that Gordon would never send wunderkind Kya home, so it was a done-deal that they’d be eliminated. It’s unfortunate because these two probably had the best hair out of all our contestants. Goodbye braids and mohawk; I shall miss you the most!