“I also got a blow torch!” she tells me with more than a hint of excitement. “I am going to make my first creme brulee.”
Kayla — a middle schooler from Long Island, New York — has been perfecting her skills in the kitchen since second grade.
“I had pneumonia and the flu for like four weeks,” she remembers. “I stayed home all day and there was nothing on TV so I watched a lot of cooking shows.
“Eventually I started to cook with my mom. I was making chocolate chip cookies and helping her grill some burgers. Easy things.”
Last summer, Kayla was one of 19 talented youngsters who invited to compete in chef Gordon Ramsay’s kitchen for the third season of MASTERCHEF JUNIOR.
She is one of just 12 young cooks remaining in the competition.
Kayla — who also enjoys soccer, basketball and plays lacrosse on a travel team — admits she isn’t quite sure what she wants to do when she grows up.
“But I think opening a restaurant is up there,” she says.
“I would serve Italian food and Mexican food, so there is a lot of what I eat on the menu. I would change what is on the menu pretty often so there is a variety of different things. One month my main cuisine would be Greek and Italian and the next month we could try Chinese food — the way that I would make it.”
The talented tween had a lot more to share when we caught up in late December.
You are such a talented cook — but is there anything that you are not so good at?
I am not the most coordinated person. I wish I could dance better and I wish I could sew. My little sister eight and she can sew. I tried to sew something that was supposed to be a pillow, but it didn’t turn out very well. I think I broke her sewing machine.
Yikes! Any mishaps in the kitchen?
I tried once to cook with my cousin who is a year younger than me. We were making this peppermint chocolate cake and I don’t know what happened. Maybe we forgot an ingredient like baking powder. But the cake didn’t really rise and the icing didn’t turn out well. My cousin couldn’t find a teaspoon so he put a quarter cup of mint extract in it and it was so bitter it was disgusting. And when you cut it, it was so dense and disgusting that it looked like poop! [laughs]
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In the first episode, you sliced two of your fingers with a knife. Was that your worst kitchen injury?
I had never cut myself in the kitchen before that. But I have definitely burned myself a lot. Oil splatters up or pulling on the oven racks with the potholders.
Can you tell us a few fun facts about yourself?
* On my passport, I have been to five different places around the world: Mexico, St. Lucia, Aruba, Barbados, Turks & Caicos. The first time I was out of the country was when I was five or six years old.
* Me and my friends love to turn on the radio and sing. Every time I hear a new song, the next time I hear it, I know every single word to it.
* I don’t like anything by Justin Bieber. He bothers me! My sister loves him and every time in the morning when we are getting ready for school, she puts on the radio and plays one of his songs.
* When I was in 2nd grade and I was just starting to cook, I entered a recipe contest. [I made] bon-bon cookies. They are cookies stuffed with things, so I stuffed them with cherries and chocolate chips. And I won!
If you could cook a meal for any celebrity who would it be and what would you make?
I would cook for Julia child because I watched the movie JULIE & JULIA and she was just so good and really inspired me to cook because she went through a lot of struggles to get her cook book out. I would probably cook for her a French meal like Beef Bourguignon and maybe some crepes. I would want to impress her with my French food knowledge.
If you could only bring three things with you to a deserted island, what would they be?
I would bring a lifetime supply of pizza. And my cell phone. And a pillow. I have a memory foam pillow and I just love it.
What’s your favorite aisle in the grocery store?
I like the dairy aisle because that is where all of the cheeses are and I am obsessed with cheese. I just love so many different kinds of cheese.
If you found a $100 bill on the sidewalk, what would you spend it on?
I would probably spend it on more kitchen equipment. I would probably get an ice cream maker and more knives.
What world record would you like to hold?
My mom always says I am really loud, so I would probably like to have the world’s loudest scream. I was going to a concert once and I screamed very loud in my mom’s ear and she yelled at me.
MASTERCHEF JUNIOR airs Tuesdays at 8:00 PM ET/PT on Fox.
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