There’s a heartwarming moment in the season two premiere of MASTERCHEF JUNIOR where Gordon Ramsay comforts 10 year-old Coco, who fears she used too much salt in her mashed potatoes.
“I can’t do it,” the girl cries, tears flowing down her face.
That’s when Ramsay — known around the world for his foul mouth and hot temper — uses the skills he’s acquired as a father to reassure the aspiring chef that her dish is, in fact, just fine.
“I have three daughters — Holly, Megan and Matilda — and they always cry in the kitchen,” he tells her. “But when they cry, they laugh. I am not leaving until you laugh.”
Compassion and empowerment are the secret ingredients in the Fox cooking competition — and the reason MASTERCHEF JUNIOR is, once again, the must-see reality show of the fall.
Later in the episode, another young chef tears up after undercooking her chicken. Instantly, every one of the other contestants rushes over to console her.
“It [was] an amazing feeling,” she says.
“Some people are really mean on TV, but these kids are really nice people and I thought that was really cool.”
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To be honest, I have always hated cooking shows.
I never quite understood the fun of watching someone cook a Beef Wellington or Chocolate Lava Cake that you can’t smell or taste?
But Ramsay’s latest (and greatest?) offering isn’t about the culinary creations at all.
It’s the 16 pint sized-chefs — and their super-sized passions for cooking — that make MASTERCHEF JUNIOR the perfect show for the whole family to enjoy together.
The new season — kicking off November 4 — is every bit as endearing and addictive as the first.
This time around, the kitchen is filled with a new crop of kids, each with a sharp set of knives and the dream of becoming the next Wolfgang Puck.
There’s 8 year-old Abby, who creates a Blood Orange Cream Pie with jellybeans on top — you know, because “everybody loves jellybeans.”
And 10 year-old Josh, whose voice cracks just a wee bit every time he speaks.
And 9 year-old Oona, who steals every single scene she is in, with her pigtails, adorable facial expressions and unflappable confidence.
“My parents brought me to restaurants at a really early age, so I would say that my palate is pretty good,” she says.
It is obvious that certain aspects of the program are set-up to accommodate the story-telling process. But MASTERCHEF JUNIOR is not your run-of-the-mill, manipulated competition show.
These kids are not cooking because they want to be on TV. They are cooking because they just love to cook.
And, frankly, it is next to impossible to fake the sincerity of emotions — both happy and sad — that they experience throughout the course of each episode.
The show — which also stars celebrity restauranteurs Joe Bastianich and Graham Elliott — follows the format of its grown-up counterpart, but adds an extra splash of family-friendly fun.
After one pancake flipping challenge in episode two, a pair of young chefs are invited to pour pitchers of syrup over the judges heads!
That alone might be worth tuning in for.
MASTERCHEF JUNIOR premieres Tuesday, November 4 on FOX.
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