When folks familiar with Chef Gordon Ramsay learned the premise of "MasterChef Junior," most voiced skepticism. Could a chef as famous for cursing as for kitchen cleverness really change his sarcastic style to suit kids between the ages of eight and 13? The answer, as shown on the November 1 episode, is a definite "yes, Chef."
The first part of the finale featured Chef Gordon and his fellow judges Joe Bastianich and Graham Elliott. The four little finalists anxiously lined up before the uber-taster trio as Chef Gordon introduced them to the theme of the show: Cackling chickens.
In a "which came first, the chicken or the egg," Chef Gordon talked the kids through the surprisingly intricate task of making the perfect soft-boiled egg. His description was worthy of an art connoisseur discussing a Picasso: The white must be firm, the egg runny and the result worthy of an "ahhhh" of satisfaction.
And here's the catch that could have stumped even an adult chef: No timer.
The kids alternated in attempts to produce the perfect soft-boiled egg, with little Jack appearing to pray to the egg gods (he said he was focusing) while others counted off the time.
Tears resulted as one child after another failed to produce the egg-zactly ideal soft-boiled egg. Closest contender: Troy, who won the advantage of assigning chicken parts to his competitors for the elimination challenge.
From wings (Dara) to breasts (Jack) to thighs (Troy) to the ultimate challenge of liver (Alexander), the kids get cooking in hopes of qualifying for the challenge.
Asked if they like chicken liver, Chef Gordon receives a chorus: "No, Chef!"
But after they cook up their entrees, Alexander has a confession. He tried the chicken livers that he made. Verdict: "I love liver!"
After sampling the dishes, the judges agree that Alexander and Dara are the winners and will move onto the elimination challenge.
Saddest moment: When pitifully sobbing Jack finds out that he must leave, and receives a hug and a back rub from Chef Gordon.
Best moment: When Chef Gordon describes curly-haired, always beaming Alexander as resembling Julia Child's grandson.
Lessons for parents from the show:
- You can teach kids to appreciate new, healthy foods by involving them in the cooking process.
- A soft-boiled egg is a tasty, healthy treat (none of the kids seemed to be familiar with this food). Eggs contain protein and B-complex vitamin choline, which is linked to improved neurological function and reduced inflammation.
- Children enjoy challenges. As little Jack left the show, he noted that the experience taught him that he likes "being very ambitious."
- Think outside the box when it comes to recipes for the family. Chef Gordon has two books that might help: "Gordon Ramsay Makes It Easy" and "Gordon Ramsay's Home Cooking: Everything You Need to Know to Make Fabulous Food" (click for details).