|Based on||Junior MasterChef|
|Country of origin||United States|
|No. of seasons||1|
|No. of episodes||7|
|Executive producer(s)||Ben Adler
Adeline Ramage Rooney
|Production company(s)||One Potato Two Potato
|Original run||September 27, 2013– present|
Children between the ages of 8 and 13 apply to become a contestant on the series. 24 applicants are chosen to audition. At the auditions, the applicants are split into three groups. One group prepares seafood dishes, one prepares pasta dishes and one group prepares dessert dishes to present to the judges. 12 of the applicants become contestants for the next round and all 24 receive one of the MasterChef franchise's signature aprons that they get to keep, regardless of their progress.
After the audition round, two contestants are sent home per episode. The winner receives a prize of $100,000 and the MasterChef Junior trophy.
Fox placed casting calls for participants in January 2013. Fox officially ordered the series (then under the name Junior MasterChef) on May 10, 2013. The name was later changed to MasterChef Junior.
There were concerns that Ramsay's style of cursing at the contestants on his other competition shows (most notably Hell's Kitchen) would carry over to MasterChef Junior, but Ramsay said that he had only cursed twice during the production of the series, and never at the contestants. In the final editing, he cursed once in front of the contestants, but not at them.
Season 1 (2013)
The winner of MasterChef Junior season 1 is Alexander Weiss, a 13-year-old from New York City.
|Alexander Weiss||13||New York City, New York||Winner 8 November|
|Dara Yu||12||Los Angeles, California||Runner Up 8 November|
|Jack Hoffman||10||East Rockaway, New York||Eliminated 1 November|
|Troy Glass||12||Thousand Oaks, California|
|Gavin Pola||10||San Francisco, California||Eliminated 25 October|
|Sarah Lane||9||Pacific Palisades, California|
|Kaylen Alfred||11||Culver City, California||Eliminated 18 October|
|Sofia Hublitz||12||Brooklyn, New York|
|Jewels Gold||12||Manalapan, New Jersey||Eliminated 11 October|
|Roen Guerin||12||Brooklyn, New York|
|Molly Round||12||Pasadena, California||Eliminated 4 October|
|Tommy Peters||11||Palos Verdes Estates, California|
- (WINNER) This cook won the competition.
- (RUNNER-UP) This cook finished in second place.
- (WIN) The cook won the Mystery Box Challenge or Elimination Test.
- (WIN) The cook was on the winning team in the Team Challenge and was directly advanced to the next round.
- (ADV) The cook was a co-winner in their Top 24 heat and advanced to the Top 12
- (HIGH) The cook was one of the top entries in a Mystery Box Challenge or Elimination Test, but did not win.
- (HIGH) The cook was one of the top entries in a Team Challenge, but did not win.
- (IN) The cook was not selected as a top entry or bottom entry in a Mystery Box Challenge or Elimination Test.
- (IN) The cook was not selected as a top entry or bottom entry in a Team Challenge.
- (IN) The cook did not compete in this heat of the Top 24
- (IMM) The cook did not have to compete in the challenge.
- (LOW) The cook was one of the bottom entries in a Elimination Test, but was not the last person to advance.
- (LOW) The cook was one of the bottom entries in a Elimination Test, and was the last person to advance.
- (LOW) The cook was one of the bottom entries in the Team Challenge, and their team was last to advance.
- (LOW) The cook was one of the bottom entries in the Team Challenge, and they were the only person from their team to advance.
- (ELIM) ,The cook was eliminated.
- Original Airdate: Friday September 27, 2013
After a nationwide search for the best junior home chefs in the country, twenty-four are invited to the MasterChef kitchen to compete for a spot in the top twelve. The children are split up into three groups of eight. The first group is assigned to create a restaurant quality seafood dish of their choosing. The dishes consist of Sofia with her Chilean sea bass, Roen with his seared ahi tuna and sushi, Mina with her coconut-crusted shrimp, Daniel with his octopus salad, Justin with his fried red snapper, Jack with his seared crab cakes, Franco with his seared scallops and fried rice, and Molly with her fried cod fish tacos. Out of these eight, Sofia, Roen, Jack, and Molly advance into the top twelve. The second group is assigned to create a stunning plate of fresh pasta. The dishes consist of Dara with her herb and cheese spaetzle, Tommy with his pumpkin ravioli, Sage with her vegetarian lasagna, Jewels with her gnocchi, Troy with his sea scallop fettuccine, Sara with her meatballs and fettuccine, Gavin with his beef pecorino tortellini, and Noah with his Chicken Milanesa and fettuccine pasta. Out of these eight, Dara, Tommy, Jewels, Troy, and Gavin advance to the next round. The final group has to create an amazing dessert. The dishes consist of Alexander with his pistachio macaroons, Sarah with her chocolate molten lava cake, Lishai with her mini apple pie, Ethan with his dark chocolate truffles, Hana with her scone shortcakes, Amanda with her salted caramel brownie, Kaylen with her mint lime cupcakes, and Nathan with his meringue roulade. Out of these eight, Alexander, Sarah, and Kaylen finish up the top 12 lineup. So overall, Alexander, Dara, Gavin, Jack, Jewels, Kaylen, Molly, Roen, Sarah, Sofia, Tommy, and Troy advance to the next round, while Amanda, Daniel, Ethan, Franco, Hana, Justin, Lishai, Mina, Nathan, Noah, Sage, and Sara are sent home on the first day.
- Original Airdate: Friday October 4, 2013
- Viewers: 3.95 million
- Mystery Box Challenge:
Before the series' first mystery box challenge, Gordon announced that the winner will receive $100,000, which excites all the young home cooks. The mystery box for this episode contains filet mignon, tiger shrimp, puff pastry, mixed berries, soy sauce, onion, garlic, butter potatoes, mushrooms, peppers, cherry tomatoes, ginger, greens and blue cheese. Also in the mystery box is a tablet, where the contestants can use it to Skype anybody they want to get ideas for their dish. The top three for the mystery box are Alexander's pan-seared filet mignon with garlic mashed potatoes, butter glazed carrots and a spicy mixed berry puree over a fresh green salad; Jack's Surf and Turf (pan-seared filet mignon and sauteed shrimp) with potato puff, glazed carrots and a mushroom cream sauce; and Troy's filet mignon with root vegetable hash, a poached egg, and a demi-glace soy sauce. In the end, Jack's dish is deemed the best and he receives the win in the first mystery box of the series.
- Elimination Challenge:
For winning the mystery box, Jack gains immunity from the Elimination Challenge as his first advantage. The theme of the Elimination Challenge is the judges' childhood favorite meals. For his second advantage, Jack is given the opportunity to choose what the rest of the contestants would have to cook. His choices are Joe's chicken wings, Graham's hamburger and Gordon's fish sticks. Jack ultimately chooses the burger. The eleven competing contestants are given an hour to create a restaurant quality burger. The three best meals of the Elimination Test are Alexander's beef sliders on mini brioche buns with pepper jack cheese, a lemon arugula salad, caramelized mushrooms, crispy mini onion rings, and a black garlic aioli served with fried kale chips (despite Joe fearing he's overthinking the dish), Gavin's Italian pork sausage burger topped with grilled onions, sliced tomatoes, and arugula served with a cucumber tomato salad topped with aged balsamic vinegar and burrata cheese, and Kaylen's "All around the world" beef and pork burger topped with bacon, Parmesan cheese and served with onion rings. Despite the patty being slightly overcooked and cabbage being put on the burger instead of lettuce like she hoped to do so, Sarah also pleased the judges with her All-American burger with grilled pineapple, bacon, cabbage and baked beans, and is safe from elimination as well. The bottom three meals are Jewels' lamb burger topped with caramelized onions, arugula, avocado, and tomato with a little bit of Tzatziki (which is said to be a move that Jewel's "shot herself in the foot by doing that lamb [burger]" by Graham), Molly's Korean barbecue burger topped with kimchi, fried onions and togarachi served with fries and some cole slaw (which is said to be way overcooked, with off-balance seasoning, and kimchi that didn't work, as she also appeared to have given up for most of the cooking period following Gordon's concerns at her station), and Tommy's breakfast burger made with a pork sausage and turkey patty, topped with American cheese, bacon, and a fried egg served with sweet potato tots (which is said to be dry, bland, with poorly thought out processed cheese inside the patty, alongside an overwhelming cheese flavor obliterating everything else; especially the fried egg, which is lost). In the end, the judges send Jewels to safety, leading to the tearful elimination of Molly and Tommy.
- Original Airdate: Friday October 11, 2013
- Viewers: 3.92 million
- Individual Challenge:
The top 3 from the previous elimination challenge, Alexander, Gavin and Kaylen, are each given a quart of heavy cream and told to whip it to stiff peaks. Whoever had the thickest cream - measured by holding the bowl upside-down over one of the judges' heads - would get an advantage for the next team challenge. While the contestants were whipping, the other 7 contestants were all screaming, though Dara was startled by the 'different style of Sarah' that came out, as Sarah was screaming at the top of her lungs. When the challenge is over, Alexander goes first, holding his bowl over Graham's head, and not one drop falls on the judge. Gavin is next. While his cream doesn't have stiff peaks, it's still thicker and more whipped than plain cream, though it's not thick enough to prevent a large portion from falling on Joe's head, sending everybody (particularly Jewels) into a laughing fit. Kaylen is last to take her turn, and her cream is even thinner than Gavin's, resulting in it completely drenching Gordon, making everybody laugh even harder than before, while Gordon, for the first time in this series, swears aloud, making everyone go into hysterics (particularly Dara). Alexander is thus judged the winner - after which he dumps the contents of his bowl over Graham's head anyway, and everyone ends up throwing cream at Graham, making everyone go into hyper-hysterics.
- Team Challenge:
As the winner of the last challenge, Alexander has the task of dividing the top 10 into 5 groups of 2; he thus selects Troy to join him, pairs Gavin with Sofia, Jack with Kaylen, Roen with Jewel and Dara (who he considers his biggest competitor) with Sarah (the youngest). The task for this challenge is to recreate Gordon Ramsey's signature dish, Beef Wellington, topped with demi-glace and served with sides of mashed potatoes and broccolini. They are given filet mignon, crepes, puff pastry, prosciutto, dijon mustard, mushroom duxelle, broccolini, thyme, potatoes, butter, salt and pepper to make the dish and have 65 minutes to complete it. Ultimately, Dara and Sarah, whose execution of the dish is deemed absolutely flawless, are narrowly judged to have the best meal by Mr. Ramsay. Closely following are Alexander and Troy, whose meal is only prevented from being perfect by the fact that they waited too long to coat their filet in mustard. Alexander had pointed out that was supposed to be done immediately after the filet was seared, but Troy wouldn't listen to him. Gavin and Sofia's meal, while criticized for having an overly thick layer of pastry on the wellington, is also felt to be very good overall. The weakest 2 meals are those of Jack and Kaylen, along with Jewels and Roen. Jack and Kaylen's wellington suffered from soggy pastry, overcooked filet as a result of using insufficient mushroom duxelles, and mushy broccolini, while Jewels and Roen's wellington is severely over-seasoned with salt and has too much pastry. After deeming the other 3 teams safe, the judges ultimately decide that Jewels and Roen had the weaker of the 2 meals, resulting in their teary-eyed elimination.
- Original Airdate: Friday October 18, 2013
- Mystery Box Challenge:
The mystery box consists of "foods kids hate:" liver, kidneys, snails, brussel sprouts, sardines, artichoke, blue cheese, olives, dates and fennel. Dara's attempt to make a blue cheese soufflé goes badly wrong from using too much batter in her ramekin, leaving her as the only member of the top eight to not present a meal, though the judges still commend her ambition. The top three for the mystery box are Troy's snail chowder with herb oil and baked eggplant peels, Alexander's sticky toffee pudding with candied fennel, a chantilly cream and a fig-lemon puree, and Sarah's deep-fried sardines with a cabbage, brussel sprout and fennel salad. In the end, Sarah wins the challenge.
- Elimination Challenge:
After winning the mystery box, Sarah gains immunity from the Elimination Challenge as her first advantage. The theme of the Elimination Challenge is desserts. Sarah is able to choose what the rest of the contestants would have to cook. Her choices are Joe's cupcakes, Graham's 3-layer cake and Gordon's fruit tarts. Sarah chooses Graham's layer cake, with hopes of eliminating Alexander and Troy. The rest of the competing contestants are given 1 1/2 hours to create a three-layer cake. Most of them had never prepared one before and face a series of problems. Alexander mistakes his flour for confectioners' sugar and has to start over, and Sofia cries when her batter refuses to work. Gordon comes over to Sofia and gets her back on her feet, but both she and Alexander have fallen behind. The 2 best cakes of the Elimination Test are Dara's chocolate cake with spice cayenne pepper ganache, and Gavin's chocoholic delight (three layers of chocolate cake with chocolate frosting). Jack's vanilla raspberry cake with meringue buttercream frosting, while not up to the standards of the top 2, also gets positive feedback and saves him from elimination. The 4 worst cakes are Troy's lemon cake with cream cheese frosting and candied lemon slices, Alexander's lemon cake filled with lemon curd, topped with meringue frosting and garnished with blueberry and raspberry puree, Kaylen's vanilla cake with a mixed berry buttercream and Sofia's chocolate cake with a strawberry and raspberry buttercream and topped with fresh raspberries. Unfortunately, Sarah's plan to eliminate Troy and Alexander backfired, as Troy's cake did just enough to keep him in the competition, while Alexander survives mostly by virtue of his past performances (despite the judges calling his cake a "disaster"), leading to the tearful elimination of Kaylen and Sofia. Before leaving the MasterChef kitchen, Kaylen and Sofia express who they think would win the competition (Alexander-Sofia, and Dara-Kaylen (who would coincidentally be the two juniors to make it to the finale).
- Original Airdate: Friday October 25, 2013
- Viewers: 3.87 million
- Team Challenge:
The Top 6 contestants travel to Drago Centro in Los Angeles. Joe announces they'd be competing in the restaurant takeover challenge, which scares some of the kids. Because Dara and Gavin had the best cakes last episode, they're named team captains. Dara chooses Alexander and Jack for her red team while Gavin chooses Troy and Sarah for his blue team. The teams have to prepare 2 appetizers and entrees from the menu: A Burrata Salad and Seared Albacore Tuna for appetizers, along with Short Rib Ravioli and Pan Seared Branzino for entrées. The teams have an hour of prep and 75 minutes of lunch service. Promptly after prep time begins, Troy takes command of the blue team, but Gordon tells him to calm down and allow team captain Gavin to take control. The red team, however, shares responsibilities and decides democratically who'd do what. Troy and Sarah have a hard time getting along. Once prep time is over, Ramsay, who's the expediter, begins calling out orders and service officially starts. The blue team falls behind because they're struggling to work together, and even have to redo a dish because Troy had sliced the tuna too thin. On the red team, Dara and Alexander begin arguing, but Jack and Gordon bring them back together. The guests enjoy their appetizers and give good reviews, with no clue that the chefs are children. The teams now have to prepare a dish for Chef Ian of the restaurant. While the blue team continue to have conflicts, the red team gets it together. Chef Ian tests the teams' appetizers. The blue team's Burrata Salad looks and tastes better and for the tuna, both teams get good reviews. The teams now prepare their entrees for fifty customers and Chef Ian. Gavin of the blue team tries to ease the tension between Troy and Sarah. However, the red team gets it together and works in unison. The customers give mixed reviews. The teams prepares Chef Ian's meals. The blue team finally works together, but on the contrary, the red team struggles to get the order done. The red team's ravioli looks and tastes better while the blue team's ravioli is lacking sauce. The red team's Branzino looks better, but the blue team's Branzino tastes better. The guests fill out their comment cards, and the young cooks come out of the kitchen to greet the guests, who are blown away by the fact that children ages 9 to 13 cooked their food. The cooks travel back to the MasterChef kitchen to find which team won the challenge. Back in the kitchen, the judges declare the Red team the winner, sending Dara, Alexander and Jack to the semifinals. The Blue team is up for elimination; however, only one will be safe. In the end, the judges save Troy, while Gavin and a teary-eyed Sarah are sent home. Before they left, Gordon asked them about who they think will win. Sarah thought Troy would win, despite him giving her a hard time at the restaurant, and Gavin said Jack will win.
- Original Airdate: Friday November 1, 2013
- Viewers: 4.01 million
- Individual Challenge:
All 4 remaining contestants are asked to make a perfect soft-cooked egg but thrown a curveball by being refused any sort of timer and forced to go completely on gut instinct to determine when their egg is ready. When the eggs are presented, Alexander and Jack's eggs are completely hard-cooked, and while Dara's yellow is somewhat softer, it's still mostly solid. Troy's egg is about halfway between being soft and hard-cooked, resulting in him being named the winner for delivering the closest to what the judges had asked for.
- Elimination Challenge:
As the winner of the individual challenge, Troy's advantage is to assign himself and the other 3 cooks one of 4 cuts of chicken. He chooses thigh for himself, gives Alexander the liver (considered the hardest cut), Dara the wings and Jack the breast. During the cooking phase, Dara is composed and confident throughout, Jack keeps going back and forth to the pantry to get ingredients he forgot, Troy ignores Joe's advice to cook 2 thighs as a backup plan, while Alexander is extremely nervous about his cut, as he knew nothing about cooking liver. Troy is first-up to be judged, and serves up a pan-fried thigh with romesco sauce and a spaghetti, squash and zucchini salad. Unfortunately, Troy had confused the cooking times of chicken breasts and thighs, and when Gordon cuts it open, the interior of the thigh is completely raw, leaving the judges unable to taste it. They nonetheless compliment him on his presentation and the taste of the side items, but it's of little consolation to Troy, who leaves the judges in tears knowing he's highly likely not going to make it to the finale due to this mistake. Dara serves soy-ginger wings with pickled cucumbers, radishes and carrots, which gets unanimous praise from the judges, and in particular is complimented on its presentation (Joe calls it a restaurant 'signature' dish). Alexander creates a pate of his liver and serves it atop a garlic crostini topped with bacon, served with reduced cherry marmalade and a balsamic glaze, which gets huge praise from the judges for turning what's by far the hardest of the 4 cuts into a rustic, restaurant-quality meal that causes Ramsay to joke that, if Alexander was 5 years older, then he'd hire him on the spot. Finally, Jack serves a goat cheese, sun-dried tomato and chopped olive stuffed chicken breast roulade wrapped in prosciutto served with asparagus and roasted potatoes; the judges all love the meal and are astonished that Jack, the youngest remaining competitor, had served up the most complex dish of the night and executed it so well. With Troy's elimination largely a foregone conclusion, the judges are left to choose between Alexander, Dara and Jack. Alexander is named the first finalist for having the best overall meal in this challenge, leaving Dara and Jack. Ultimately, the judges make Dara the other finalist for her presentation skills and being the only contestant in the top 4 not to finish in the bottom 3 or 4 of a challenge, leading to the elimination of a teary-eyed Jack and Troy.
- Original Air date: Friday November 8, 2013
- Viewers: 4.14 million
- Season Finale: In attendance for the finale are the families of Alexander and Dara, all the other contestants from this season and MasterChef season 4 winner Luca. The 2 finalists each have an hour-and-a-half in which to make a 3-course meal, and are allowed to cook anything they want. During the cooking phase, Dara forgets several ingredients (having to borrow them from Alexander), becomes overwhelmed and dehydrated about an hour in, forcing the challenge to be paused so she can recover. Despite this, and Alexander having to rush to get everything ready in time, both finalists are able to finish successfully.
- Appetizer: Dara serves an Ahi tuna duo (poke and seared), while Alexander serves basil lemon shrimp with heirloom tomato crostini. While the judges enjoy both meals, they agree without hesitation that Dara's is the better of the 2, and both more ambitious and generally better-executed, while Alexander's is a bit simplistic.
- Entree: Dara's dish is fried spot prawns with scallop-shrimp wontons and Thai coconut curry sauce, and Alexander's is a pan-seared veal chop with potato gnocchi and butter sauce. Overall, the judges all like Dara's meal but note it was slightly let down by the prawns being overcooked. Alexander is nervous, knowing that if his meal doesn't get a good review, Dara would win irrespective of how the dessert course went; fortunately, the judges all give him huge praise for perfectly nailing the gnocchi and temperature on the veal, and largely agree that Alexander had won this course.
- Dessert: Both finalists serve up unorthodox desserts; Dara's is poached pears in lemon ginger miso sauce, while Alexander's is a deconstructed cannoli Napoleon. Gordon is initially unsure about the choice of miso broth in Dara's dessert, but the judges all enjoy it. Alexander is commended on the ambition shown in his dessert, and the judges feel he'd largely been able to follow through with it in the execution, though they feel the marscapone is a bit too sweet and off-balance.
- Judges' Deliberations: The judges feel this is a close call, and in a first for the Fox incarnation of MasterChef, it's strongly implied that the winner was decided on via a split-decision instead of a unanimous vote. Ultimately, while Gordon backs Dara as the winner for the greater overall coherency of her meals (and also having been a consistently excellent performer in every challenge), Graham and Joe feel Alexander deserves the win for his greater ambition and technical ability, and serving an entree Joe describes as "the best meal we've ever tasted on MasterChef."
- Winner Revealed: Alexander is announced as the first MasterChef Junior winner, taking home the trophy and the $100,000 prize, making Dara the first runner-up.
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- "Fox Orders Season 3 of 'MasterChef Junior'". Deadline Hollywood. March 5, 2014. Retrieved March 8, 2014.
- Bibel, Sara. "FOX Announces Fall Premiere Dates for the 2014-2015 Season; 'Red Band Society' Launches Early, 'Sleepy Hollow' & 'Gotham' on September 22". TV by the Numbers (Press release). Retrieved July 11, 2014.
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- Official website
- MasterChef Junior at the Internet Movie Database
- MasterChef Junior at TV.com
- MasterChef Junior at TV Guide
- MasterChef Junior ratings at TV by the Numbers