So far on this season of MasterChef Junior, we’ve seen home chefs aged 8-13 take on challenges that would be difficult for even the most seasoned chef: cooking enough Scotch eggs to feed a Renaissance Fair, cooking as many perfect pizzas as possible in 20 minutes, even recreating a dish made by Gordon Ramsay purely based on taste. It’s a once-in-a-lifetime experience, and even though the current season airing in 2022 was actually filmed in 2019, it’s an experience that has stayed with the young home chefs to this day.
I had the opportunity to chat with six of this season’s “cheftestants” via Zoom about what life in their home kitchens has been like since filming. Some of the mistakes are sticking with the chefs for life—A’Dan Lisaula told me, laughing, “Since I put raw grapes on a plate, my cousins put cake in my face, I got a lot of criticism from almost everyone in my family, my grandma bullies me for it.” But the biggest takeaways are useful tips for home cooks of any age.
“Having your ingredients all laid out is a good idea that I learned. Before, I’d be in the middle of cooking something and me and my little brother would have to run to the grocery store for something because we’d be out.” —Freddy Taylor
“I always try to have salt and pepper in the same place. In the MasterChef kitchen we had these little ramekins for salt and pepper instead of grinders, and that helped me so much because I just kept remembering to season my food. I do the same thing now in my kitchen.” —Abir Bhatia
“I think you should always wear an apron. The kitchen is going to get messy, so you want to protect your outfit. And you should clean as you cook, you don’t just want to make a big mess and not know where the next ingredient is. It’s really nice to have a cleaner workspace.” —Ivy Childs
“Tie your hair back if you have long hair because the worst thing is to get hair in your food.” —Eva Kozar
“Part of cooking is introducing different ingredients to people. I think that’s one of my favorite parts about it, because I love to go to the farmers market or the grocery store and find things that I haven’t experienced myself and research how people typically make them and try that and see if I like it and if not, make it my own way. I think that’s a really important part of cooking, just experimenting with new things and trying new ingredients.” —Grayson Price
“Having the resource of all those ingredients and giving myself that creativity to come up with a dish, now I can use that. I can just look in my fridge and just see what I have and I can just make stuff, and that’s really fun.” —Ivy Childs
“In the second episode I made salmon, and that was maybe my third time cooking it, so I kind of knew about it. But since the show has aired I feel like I’ve cooked it over a thousand times, that’s a regular dinner for me.” —A’Dan Lisaula
“One thing I taught my family after the show was how to cut an onion without crying. In the renaissance fair challenge I was cutting a bunch of onions for a dressing and Gordon came over and noticed I was crying, so he showed me you want to cut away from yourself, straight down, so it doesn’t come up into your eyes. I always try to correct my mom and dad when they’re cutting stuff.” —Abir Bhatia
“It’s been a big deal for me to watch where my fingers are so I don’t cut them off, because I think almost everybody on the show cut their finger with a knife before and it wasn’t a pleasant experience.” —A’Dan Lisaula
“Once you start, you can’t go back, so make sure you really taste along the way. You can always add more salt, so don’t start by throwing in a bunch.” —Ivy Childs
“Self-confidence is a huge factor that you need, because you need to help yourself give that extra push.” —A’Dan Lisaula
“Just try it out. If you do it enough times eventually you’ll get half decent at it to where you’ll be able to eat your own food. Just practice.” —Freddy Taylor
“Don’t be afraid to make mistakes, because mistakes might turn into something beautiful. If you don’t have a certain ingredient, finding a substitute, you might find that substitute tastes better. Like if you don’t have potatoes then you can use cauliflower and you might end up liking that better.” —Ivy Childs
“A lot of people who use the internet, they say, ‘well, I can’t actually cook, I just follow a recipe,’ and I think you should give yourself more credit. Because just being able to follow instructions is already something that a lot of people can’t do, so give yourself credit, guys, because it’s not as easy as you’re saying it is!” —Eva Kozar
“For people starting out cooking, a great resource is the internet. Especially now after COVID there’s so many amazing creators online that you can take inspiration from, and you don’t always need a recipe. Ingredients work just fine. It’s always better to start small and work your way up—everybody starts somewhere.” —Abir Bhatia
MasterChef Junior airs Thursdays at 8/7c on FOX.