A 9-year-old Connecticut girl with adorable pigtails and a million dollar smile has her sights set on becoming TV’s next MASTERCHEF JUNIOR.
Oona Yaffe, a fourth grader, has only been cooking for three years.
But on the season two premiere, she confidently whips up a Spicy Seared Pork Loin with Mixed Fruits and Vegetables which was considered among the best “Mystery Box” dishes of the week.
“I would expect that kind of level of perfection in any one of my restaurants,” judge Joe Bastianich praised.
Oona — who describes he palate as “pretty awesome” — told me about her love of cooking and what she really thinks of chef Gordon Ramsay when we sat down for one of her first interviews ever…
First of all. you have got the coolest name!
Thank you. I am named after Charlie Chaplin’s wife, Oona O’Neill. It is an Irish name and it means “lamb.”
Is lamb your best dish?
No. A yolk-filled ravioli, probably.
Did you always want to be a chef?
Since I was 7. That is when I decided I like to cook.
What happened when you were 7?
I went to a restaurant called Lazy Ox and the food was just exceptional!
Do your parents make you cook dinner for them?
No. I get paid $5 to cook at home! Every time I cook a full meal and clean up after it, I get $5.
Will you come to my house and cook for $5?
To go to an almost complete stranger’s house and cook, I would want more than $5. [laughs]
Did you watch MASTERCHEF JUNIOR last year?
Of course! I wouldn’t have auditioned if I hadn’t watched the show.
What did you love about it that made you want to go on?
Mostly it’s just that kids are cooking. That is pretty much it. I haven’t seen many kids cooking on TV. I told a lot of my friends that the only way I would shut up about it was if I got on. So they were like “Ok, I hope you get on.”
Did you have a favorite contestant last season?
Either Dara or Sarah.
Sarah had a famous scene where she is yelling, “Whip it like a man!” Do you get a catch phrase?
What is Gordon Ramsay really like?
He is a little rough around the edges.
Did he yell at you?
You will have to tune in to find out. [laughs]
What is the best part of doing a TV show?
Probably meeting friends. Meeting these guys.
Who is your closest friend on the show?
Probably Sean and Sam.
Wait — the boys?
Surprisingly enough. [laughs]
So there’s no boy-girl rivalry?
Not really. It is not a competitive thing.
Are you ready to become famous?
Semi-famous, actually. I think so. The reality of it is still coming to me.
Did you ever think you would be on TV?
Are there other shows that you would like to be on?
Not really. I watch other shows, but not that I would like to be on.
What do you watch?
I watch BRAIN GAMES, but that is on a different network. I watch GOOD EATS. I watch a lot of cooking shows.
You had to keep this a secret for a long time. What did your friends at school say when they found out?
I told my best friend when it was shooting before I knew that I got on and then she just figured it out on her own.
Last question — what are two fun facts that fans of the show would be interested to know about you?
I can put my feet behind my head — and I have the same birthday as Pablo Picasso.
MASTERCHEF JUNIOR premieres November 4 on Fox.
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