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MasterChef Junior Casting Season 2

MasterChef Junior Casting Season 2

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Auditions for the kids' cooking show coming to New York, Chicago, L.A., and Dallas

More precious Chef Ramsay moments to come!

Hey kids! Always dreamed of being on a Gordon Ramsay reality cooking show? Do you have no formal restaurant experience and can you barely reach the counters of your home kitchen? Good news: MasterChef Junior is casting for its second season and you (or your 8-13 year old child) could be on it.

On Saturday, January 18, open calls will be held in New York and Chicago, and on Saturday, January 25, they'll be held in Los Angeles and Dallas. Callbacks will be scheduled 1-3 days after the open call.

Adults must fill out this application before the audition and children must have an apron. Or in the words of the official casting website: 'PLEASE JUST BRING AN APRON.' (Air mattresses, animals, fireworks, hair dryers, illegal drugs, and weapons are all forbidden at the site, so don't bring those).

If you can’t make the call times, there’s also the option to send in a 5-10 minute home video by January 24. Potential contestants will introduce judges to their home, family, and lifestyle as well as include a kitchen tour and cooking demonstration, complete with the plating of a signature dish.

The show will film from March 10 - May 2, which is even better news for those who have been deprived of cute and quirky kitchen antics since MasterChef Junior's first season's finale last month.

Good luck to the new potential cast, and don't forget your apron!

4 'MasterChef' Recipes To Guide the 'Junior' Chefs

As soon as I moved into my first apartment, I became determined to learn how to cook, and this eventually turned into an obsession with cooking shows. mostly ones starring Gordon Ramsay. I started out with last year's first season of MasterChef Junior , mainly because I couldn't believe that there were eight-year-olds out there crafting fancy, restaurant-worthy meals, when I was just learning how to figure out when my steak was done. With Season 2 premiering on Tuesday night, it's a given that this next set of young chefs will be just as accomplished, but it would be awesome if they were given a chance to learn from their adult MasterChef predecessors' recipes.

I'd love to see a challenge where the MasterChef Junior contestants were asked to recreate a dish that one of the older MasterChef alums had first created on the show — especially if the dish came from a Mystery Box Challenge, because those are always the best (and the most creative). But there are a few essential lessons in cooking that last year's young chefs learned along the way, and I think these four dishes would round out the new hopefuls' experience the best.

Grilled Octopus

Eventually, the kids always end up cooking with crazy ingredients that they'd never encountered before, and adorably disgusted reactions ensue. But if you plan to be a working chef, you have to be able to cook even the things you don't like and make them delicious. I think finding out whether or not that's an ability each chef has should be a huge scoring point on whether or not they make it to the next round.

Apple Stuffed Pork Tenderloin

In one of last season's episodes, the Mystery Box Challenge required that the contestants create a dish including apples that wasn't a dessert. If you can take an ingredient that's typically thought of as a dessert and make diners see it in a new way, you're actually revolutionizing your restaurant's menu, and that's amazing. I mean, of course it has to taste good in addition to being creative, but that should go without saying.

Chocolate Truffles

Is there anything better than a good desserts episode? Probably not. Last year's MasterChef Junior winner, Alexander Weiss, rocked desserts. And I was jealous, because it's a rare occasion that my break and bake chocolate chip cookies aren't either burnt or undercooked.


It seems simple enough (and pretty hard to screw up), but making pasta is an art form. Before we let any of these tiny home cooks go home with the big prize, we should find out if they're capable of making truly delicious pasta.

How staged/fake is MasterChef Junior? January 10, 2015 5:22 PM Subscribe

I'll list the reasons that made me wonder about the realness of this reality show:

- The kids are all amazing on screen, seem almost like hollywood show kids that were maybe recruited to talk on camera more than cook. They say some incredible things, usually in the classic couch reaction bits, so I wonder how much of their responses are coached/written/on cue cards.

10 year olds I know can cook one or two simple dishes (pasta, grilled cheese) but I'm having a hard time believing a 11 year old kid knows how to break down a salmon then cook it using a really advanced method, and can also do three side dishes within an hour that are intricate as well. Do the kids get cookbooks/coaching to help them along? Do 8 year old kids really know how to cook steak several different ways and make a huge variety of vegetables?

- On one of the episodes, they had to make cupcakes it looked like they were clearly pouring pre-measured amounts of ingredients into bowls. Was every challenge a bit pre-staged like that?

Honestly, I don't mind if they used cookbooks, and I'm impressed with the stuff they were cooking, but some of the responses they give sound too smart and written by adults, and I'm genuinely curious if real kids are capable chefs at such a young age. Even the most interested kid that grew up to go to culinary school I knew growing up could probably only cook about 4-5 basic dishes around the age of 10.

Friends told me it was the first good Gordon Ramsey show they'd seen (he doesn't yell at people, tries to be supportive), so I watched, but I'm skeptical. I've seen a few news stories about earlier seasons and non-US versions where former contestants made claims they were coached/helped a bit in the kitchen, but I'm wondering if anyone has seen anything more definitive about the current and past US versions of the show.

It seems too good to be true, so I'm wondering if it really is.

Best answer: I did not watch the show, but the winner lives in my neighborhood in Memphis so I was exposed to a lot of info during the course of the season. He is real person, not from Hollywood, homeschooled, and his interest in cooking started at an early age. I can tell you that after he was picked for the show, he spent many hours being tutored in the kitchens of prominent Memphis restaurants. One local newspaper article specifically addressed his skill at cooking fish and the chef here in Memphis that taught him.

Not speaking to how staged it is, but that kid does know how to cook.
posted by raisingsand at 5:39 PM on January 10, 2015 [14 favorites]

i can't speak to the realness of this specific show, but i can speak on kids cooking. my brother was about that age when he was making bagels and donuts from scratch. my siblings and i were all making dinner for 10 by the time we were 11.

as to master chef, i'm nearly positive they have a room of cookbooks for the adult contestants to peruse during downtime, so it'd make sense if the kids get that too.
posted by nadawi at 5:45 PM on January 10, 2015 [2 favorites]

kids that were maybe recruited to talk on camera more than cook

This is pretty typical of reality TV, or really any non-scripted television. I was a Jeopardy! contestant, and while I am a smarty and did well on all the trivia tests you're required to take to get in, I'm pretty sure the reason I was chosen to be on the show over hundreds of others is because I'm also pretty good at things like public speaking, appearing on camera, telling a personal anecdote, etc.

Every single reality show that follows a cast of characters over the course of a whole season or more is going to be casting as much for the skills required of a reality TV star as they are looking for people who can do the thing the show is about.
posted by Sara C. at 5:47 PM on January 10, 2015 [3 favorites]

Says Josh, “We cook every single day except Sunday. On Sunday we either have free time in the kitchen or in a cooking class.”

Wait, what now? You read correctly: cooking class. We were wondering how two non-bakers with no culinary training made three souffles in 60 minutes. As it turns out, the MasterChef-testants do get a bit of training behind the scenes, and everyone has access to “a full library of pretty much every cookbook in the world” between challenges to study. But no one has any prior knowledge of what the challenges will be, no one gets to consult the library during challenges, and the cooking classes aren’t necessarily specifically tailored to that week’s challenges.

Best answer: Gordon Ramsey has four children and is legit great with kids . you can actually see this on ALL his shows where they make the chefs/contestants cook for children one week he gets down on their level and pays very serious attention to them and the kids really respond to him and love talking to him and he's got a very "dad" vibe. (I think Joe and Graham have gotten more comfortable over time with the kids it was not as natural with them from the start, and Joe in particular seems to have to check himself sometimes and pause before he speaks.)

Buzzfeed has a pretty good behind-the-scenes article that jibes with a lot of the other things I've read about it, including:

"Birdsong and her culinary team of as many as 26 people teach the kids cooking classes in between episodes, walking them through the techniques they need to succeed and giving them safety training. The MasterChef classroom is identical to the set — same ovens, same food processors — so the contestants can get familiar with the equipment. The culinary team squeezes in as many classes for the kids as they can given the short amount of time children are legally allowed to be on the Paramount lot every day. “The kids are here to learn as much as they can the whole time,” she says.

Birdsong says she doesn’t teach the kids exactly what to do for a challenge, but rather shows them a basic and (most importantly) the fastest way to accomplish things like make a sauce or filet a fish. There are lots of different ways to make a piecrust, for example, but one way is probably best when you’re racing the clock. The kids have the option of writing down and memorizing anything from class."

I was not a good cook as a child, but I could bake hella cakes by the time I was 8. Several different types, and many kinds of cookies. Following a recipe, obviously, but I did know how to add more of different ingredients to adjust based on how the batter or dough was coming out, and lots of tricks for making the cookies the right size and the cakes come out of the pan properly and so on, and I could make several frostings from memory, by ear, by the time I was 11 or so. My five-year-old is very good at making crock-pot stews . he can follow the recipe very well and do all the cutting and measuring and mixing of ingredients (although I usually do the raw meat preparation part, as I don't think he's reliable with raw meat safety), and after he makes a recipe two or three times, he remembers most of it and only uses the written recipe to verify. I don't let him use the oven or stove yet, but he does know how to prepare some different vegetable dishes that I then cook for him. We're not very foodie . little kids just think the kitchen is an awesome science laboratory where experiments end in deliciousness.

I have also noticed that a disproportionate number of the kids on the show seem to have parents who own restaurants.

Curious Chef has kiddie cooking utensils, including safety knives that can cut most vegetables (and in fact are now our preferred bread knives) but don't cut little fingers this is what we have our 3- and 5-year-old kids use for cutting, for anybody else with tiny people who want to let them do more in the kitchen.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 5:56 PM on January 10, 2015 [28 favorites]

Best answer: Yeah, no one is going to cast anyone in a reality show like this one if they can't get a funny and appealing bite from them in their interviews. I suspect that a big reason those kids are funny in interviews is because the person who casts Masterchef Junior is really good at his or her job. No one working on a show like this has time to coach the kids to be Extra Charming it's honestly way easier to cast a person who is charming to begin with (especially when you're dealing with a group as unpredictable in their behavior as kids). If you want to see a reality show where you can tell that the contestants are occasionally fed lines in the interview (usually lines the producers need to set up a challenge or to explain some bit of plot, nothing nefarious as much as just We Need This Or This Episode Makes No Sense), watch Big Brother.

Also, the interview bits that you see are like two seconds out of a LONG ASS interview, often. You see the cute, funny, pertinent bits but there are tons of questions where the person doesn't answer succinctly or is just boring.*

*I assume. I have never worked on Masterchef, but I've worked on shows like it in the past.
posted by Countess Sandwich at 7:28 PM on January 10, 2015 [4 favorites]

The question I've had, if I can piggyback, is what the hell they do if one of those kids trips carrying their plate up to be judged.

(Also that Buzzfeed article wasn't bad. Abby was the BEST. My neighbour and I watch MC and MCJ together and just wanted to eat her with a spoon.)
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 8:04 PM on January 10, 2015

My understanding is that all of the contestants are there because of nepotism/industry connections, adults make some of the food presented, and that of course, there are re-shoots of scenes. I'm pretty sure someone told me this this rather recently, but I can't remember who since they probably shouldn't have dropped this info on me in the first place.

Just in general. I have many friends that work in reality tv, it's all scripted. The one competition show I worked on was definitely rigged. I've had to stop watching Chopped because the rigging was getting sloppy and obvious.

I know I wasn't shocked when the nepotism and stunt cheffing came up in regards to this particular show. I'm sure I just speed bumped the comment and moved on to the next topic because it's so common in "reality" competition shows.

I've never watched this show, but after hearing that the contestants are there through connections, and that there are professional chefs working off camera making dishes for presentation, I have every confidence the competition is "curated." I doubt the entire production staff is in on that aspect of the show. Likely, the winner is decided behind closed doors and everyone goes through the motions of pretending they don't know the outcome is pre-decided.

I've heard both that Ramsey is great to work for, and that he's a terror. I worked on one of his shows once, but got another more lucrative gig before he arrived on set. I specifically left that gig because I didn't want to get to know him. FWIW.
posted by jbenben at 8:24 PM on January 10, 2015

Best answer: General notes, in my opinion, on reality television that probably apply here.

- It's more real than you probably think. Sure the entire scenario is heavily contrived, but what plays out in front of the camera is (for most shows) very seldom directly manipulated by crew. The idea that contestants of reality shows are coached, told what to do or secretly given help (or sabotaged) is usually outright false.

- Casting is a huge part of the process. For a show like Junior MasterChef they are going to be looking for precocious and cute youngsters with the right skills. On other shows they will be casting to specific types with a fairly specific recipe for the mix of participants they want - many people in reality TV casting have a background in clinical psychology. They often know how a contestant will react in a situation better than the contestant themselves.

- There's so much you never see! On most reality shows a 22- or 44-minute episode will consist of 6-8 hours of shooting with multiple cameras, covering multiple groups or individuals. The amount of footage that's generated is insane. You never see most of that. Instead what you see is the pieces that best tell the story that the shows producers have decided they want to tell.

- The interview process is super-important. Whenever you hear someone on a reality show describing their thought process, or narrating their actions, it's from an interview conducted from an associate producer, either during the shoot day or afterward. Those interviews can last hours (less than an hour would be unusual) and contestants are basically talked through all the events of the day. Where producers know they want to push certain story angles they will guide discussion in a way to provide content for that. But even in those process participants are seldom coached on specifically what to say - the interviewer is just good at asking the right questions basically.

- Scripting doesn't happen. Basically most people are shit actors. If you tell them exactly what to say they will do it poorly. Instead the brilliance of reality TV is putting the right people into the right situations to get them to do and say basically what you hope they will.
posted by sycophant at 8:44 PM on January 10, 2015 [9 favorites]

I just wanted to say that I started cooking at 7, easy things like scrambled eggs and oatmeal, and by 12 I cooked the family dinner all by myself. I wasn't doing sous vide, but I baked and chopped and assembled quite well. I also ready my mother's Larousse Gastronomique and other cook books to get ideas for new things to do with chicken and hamburger. If a kid is interested, and the parents are supportive, you'd be surprised at how much they can learn in just a few years.

There's another show, Project Runway - Threads, with kids who are sewing savants.

I do suspect that these kids, once chosen are told to bone up on certain skills. I mean, if you were chosen to be on Survivor, wouldn't you practice learning to make fire?
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 6:46 AM on January 11, 2015

the first good Gordon Ramsey show they'd seen

FWIW, the UK version of Kitchen Nightmares is quite good a lot less staged shouting at the subjects, a lot more constructive (and genuine-appearing) advice. It always surprised me how different, and how one-dimensional, his persona in his various US series is.
posted by We had a deal, Kyle at 5:47 PM on January 13, 2015 [1 favorite]

Conversely, SassHat, the kid who won the first season is genuinely talented and has gone on to do some pretty amazing things.

The F-Word is also great Ramsay, for that matter.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 5:57 PM on January 13, 2015

Doesn't directly answer the question, but another point of anecdote about kids cooking: Yea, I mean it's a reality show so I wouldn't be surprised to learn it was scripted or whatever, but honestly I don't think it's entirely impossible for young kids to cook real food. I'm one of those kids who was interested in cooking from a very young age, and did things like watch cooking shows along with Saturday morning cartoons and clipped recipes from newspapers after reading the comics. Even if I wasn't in the kitchen doing certain things, I definitely had "academic" knowledge of things.

But beyond that, like Ruthless Bunny, I was scrambling eggs on my own and making easy things from the age of 7. With parents who both cooked and were pretty lackadaisical about me faffing around in the kitchen (they obviously told me to be careful about knives and fire, but I was still allowed to do stuff), I learned a lot from watching them, helping them out, asking questions, and just plain trial and error applying things I learned or just trying some harebrained idea out when I wasn't being supervised closely. For example, I remember being 10 and being obsessed with making "soups" for a while, making different variations with different vegetables that I cut myself using a real knife and mixing everything in a big pot (some more/less successful than others). I never tried, so I don't know how I would've done breaking down a whole salmon on my own at 11 on limited time, but I probably could've done it if I was being taught as others say above or following recipes since I started regularly doing stuff in the kitchen around that age. Considering I made a meatloaf using a recipe from "Encyclopedia Brown Takes the Cake" at age 11, flan for a social studies class at 12, and homemade pizza with pizza dough I made from scratch at 13, it seems entirely possible in the right environment kids could be making those things.
posted by kkokkodalk at 8:59 PM on January 13, 2015 [1 favorite]

I wouldn't be surprised if a percentage of the kids involved at the outset are child actors (a lot of reality TV personalities are actors, that doesn't at all mean that it's "staged", just that LA is a city full of people trying to get their face on TV by hook or by crook), just looking at how many of the contestants are from the LA area. Which makes a degree of sense from a production perspective -- you don't want to fly a bunch of families out from all over the country only to lose them the first day. So you get a bunch of adorable local ringers who most likely don't have a chance and mix them in with the real cooking phenoms who are going to be able to keep up with the challenges in the final episodes.

Notice for instance how many of the kids in the first episode are from SoCal, vs. the final 4.
posted by Sara C. at 9:35 PM on January 13, 2015

My husband and I have a joke that all reality show contestants are from Sherman Oaks. Most of the viewers in the country have no idea where that is - or Woodland Hills, Agoura, Calabasas, Irvine, Whittier. You think, "well, California's a big state. "

Reality shows aren't Union, so they can pad with locals really cheap for anything they need. I have a friend who played a tour bus guide on Hell's Kitchen - I can only imagine that every tour bus guide in LA is already an actor, but I'm guessing using a real tour company would have been more expensive.
posted by Lyn Never at 9:52 AM on January 14, 2015

October Cookbook Club: The MasterChef Junior Cookbook

Anyone looking for proof that food has become a cultural obsession need look no further than MasterChef Junior, the hit FOX competition show that features talented young contestants facing off in creative, technical cooking challenges. The masterful creations they come up with illustrate that when it comes to cooking, age is just a number! Now, from the makers of the show, comes the MasterChef Junior Cookbook, a new resource filled with 100 recipes inspired by dishes that the contestants served in the first five seasons of the show, as well as tips, techniques and advice.

If you’re a fan of the show, then be sure to join us tonight, October 11 at 6 p.m. for our next Cookbook Club class, which spotlights the MasterChef Junior Cookbook. Below is a peek at one of the mouthwatering contributions from the book, Thai-inspired chicken coconut soup with a twist—chicken meatballs. If you’re into the recipe that’s shown here, join us next Wednesday, when we’ll be demonstrating some of our other favorites from the book. On the menu: Pumpkin Ravioli with Creamy Alfredo Sauce and Lava Cakes with Whipped Cream. A $40 ticket per parent-child duo includes a 1 1/2 to 2-hour demonstration of techniques, a tasting of the book’s recipes, prepared while you watch, plus a copy of the MasterChef Junior Cookbook.

Classes are available in all stores, but space is limited and reservations are required. Request more information or get in touch with your local store for more details .

Tom Ka Gai With Chicken Meatballs

This memorable challenge presented contestants with endless “spicy,” “smelly,” and “wrinkly” ingredients. Addison’s response? “If you can’t beat them, then join them!” Choosing to use many of the unusual ingredients, Addison combined them all into one winning soup. Clever ideas, like flavoring the steamed rice with rose water, put her dish at the top of the class. Don’t forget to let the ingredients inspire you! Sometimes it’s more fun to let them lead and see where they take you.


  • 3 tablespoons canola oil
  • 4 garlic cloves, sliced
  • 3 makrut lime leaves (see Tip, page 63)
  • 1 (1-inch) piece fresh ginger, peeled and sliced
  • 1 stalk lemongrass, bottom 4 inches only, quartered lengthwise
  • 2 (15-ounce) cans unsweetened coconut milk
  • 4 cups chicken stock
  • 2 tablespoons ground ginger
  • 3 tablespoons fish sauce
  • 3 tablespoons red curry paste
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • Juice of 3 limes
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 tablespoons grapeseed oil
  • 6 oyster mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 cup sliced button mushrooms
  • 4 baby bok choy, bottoms trimmed and leaves separated
  • 2 red bell peppers, thinly sliced
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Chicken Meatballs

  • ½ cup corn nuts
  • 1 boneless, skinless chicken breast, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 2 boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • ½ cup panko bread crumbs
  • 2 scallions, white and light green parts, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 4 garlic cloves, sliced
  • 1 (1-inch) piece fresh ginger, peeled and sliced
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • Finely grated lime zest, for garnish


1. Make the rice: In a medium saucepan, combine the rose water, rice, salt, and 1½ cups water and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to low, cover the pan, and simmer until the rice is almost tender, 10 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and let sit, covered, for 15 minutes.

2. Make the soup: In a large pot, heat the canola oil over medium-high heat. Add the garlic, makrut lime leaves, fresh ginger, and lemongrass and cook, stirring, until the garlic browns, 5 minutes. Add the coconut milk, stock, ground ginger, fish sauce, red curry paste, sugar, lime juice, salt, and black pepper. Bring to a simmer and cook until thickened and reduced slightly, about 20 minutes.

3. Strain the liquid through a fine-mesh sieve into a large bowl, discard the solids and then return the soup to the pot. Bring the soup to a very low simmer and keep warm.

4. Make the vegetables: In a large pan, heat the grapeseed oil over medium-high heat. Add the mushrooms, bok choy, and bell pepper. Season with salt and black pepper. Cook, stirring often, just until tender, 3 to 4 minutes. Transfer to a plate.

5. Make the chicken meatballs: In a food processor, grind the corn nuts to a coarse powder. Add the chicken breast and thighs, bread crumbs, scallions, garlic, fresh ginger, 2 teaspoons of salt, and 2 teaspoons of black pepper to the food processor. Blend until a smooth paste forms. Use a spoon and your hands to shape the mixture into golf ball–size meatballs.

6. Heat the pan you cooked the vegetables in over medium-high heat. Add as many meatballs as will fit in a single layer and cook, flipping once or twice, until browned and cooked through, about 2 minutes per side. Transfer the cooked meatballs to the soup. Repeat with the remaining meatball mixture.

7. A few minutes before serving, add the cooked vegetables to the soup and simmer until heated through. To serve, place a scoop of steamed rice in the center of each of four bowls. Spoon the soup around the rice, making sure to include a few meatballs, and garnish with lime zest. Serves 4.

Reprinted from MasterChef Junior Cookbook. Copyright © 2017 by Shine Television, LLC. Food photographs copyright © 2017 by Evan Sung. Published by Clarkson Potter/Publishers, an imprint of Penguin Random House, LLC.

MasterChef Junior Casting Call for Kids Ages 8 to 13

MASTERCHEF JUNIOR is a cooking competition series for talented kids between the ages of 8 and 13 who love to cook.

Masterchef Junior season 1 winner was Alexander Weiss, a thirteen year old from New York City. Season 2 is scheduled to premiere on November 4 th on the FOX network and will be judged by culinary master and host Gordon Ramsey, restauranteur Joe Bastianich and acclaimed chef Graham Elliot.

The cooking competition is actively seeking kids from around the country who love to cook for its third season. The casting team for the new hit show is now accepting per-registration for talented kids who know their way around the kitchen.

Can your child out cook you in the kitchen? Are they passionate about baking or barbecuing? Did they learn to cook Italian or French Cuisine? If so the casting team would love to meet them. Please visit the website listed below and follow the registration instructions.

Parents must fill out the Masterchef application and bring it to the open call:

Open call will be held in the following cities:

PHOENIX – SAT 15th NOV 9am – 5pm
Pointe Hilton Squaw Peak Resort, 7677 N 16th Street, Phoenix AZ 85020.
(Enter on the 16th Street at the Convention Center Entrance – Take elevator to 3rd Floor)

PHILADELPHIA – SAT 15th NOV 9am – 5pm
Holiday Inn Stadium Philadelphia
900 Packer Avenue, Philadelphia PA 19148


'MasterChef Junior' Is Now Casting For Season 2

It looks like Fox is more than happy to watch Gordon Ramsay work with children again. The network has released a casting call for a second season of "MasterChef Junior." The show is looking for the most talented chefs between 8-13 (as of March 10, 2014), with casting calls scheduled for next month!

Alexander Weiss, a 13-year old from New York, took home the first-ever "MasterChef Junior" title in November. Potential future contestants can watch the entire first season online to see how he did it, and what they might be getting into. Not to worry, though, this is a far kinder Gordon Ramsay than seen on most of his other reality shows in the U.S.

Last season, the show got some flack for only casting contestants from the East and West Coasts. When we asked show runner Robin Ashbrook about the limited demographics, he said, "My intention and hope is that for any future seasons, we’ll cast much wider. If we get these kids from the coasts, I’m excited to see what we can get from Denver, Kansas City and New Orleans."

Everything You Wanted To Know About 'MasterChef Junior'

If you've spent your Saturdays binge-watching "MasterChef Junior," you're not alone. Fox's spinoff cooking competition for kids ages 8-13 became one of fall TV's sleeper hits, gaining attention from news outlets, famed chefs and families obsessed with their DVR.

Set up just like "MasterChef," the "Junior" edition calls on kids to cook Beef Wellington, layer cakes and soft-boiled eggs for the same judges as their adult counterparts. Plus, the winner will receive $100,000 and a huge trophy (which, we should mention, excited the contestants way more than the money).

But after watching all six aired episodes in one fell swoop -- the finale airs tomorrow (Nov. 8) -- we were left with so many questions about how the show actually works: How do you throw a 9-year-old into the kitchen with hothead Gordon Ramsay? Did that kid from East Rockaway actually make a perfect roulade . and then get eliminated? What about knife cuts and boiling water burns?

We caught up with showrunnner and executive producer of "MasterChef" and "MasterChef Junior" Robin Ashbrook, who answered all of these questions and more as we get ready for the season finale of "MasterChef Junior."

On finding the contestants:
"We did outreach in the most obvious of places, primarily from cooking schools and classes, and normal schools. I'd have to look but of the kids that made the final -- let's say 10 -- I certainly don't think 10 of them had cooking lessons. Probably half had."

On the kids' limited demographics (they're all from the East or West Coasts):
"As a late pick-up from Fox, we actually physically sat and did casting sessions in two cities, New York and Los Angeles. Gavin came down from San Francisco and some kids came in from the Midwest. My intention and hope is that for any future seasons, we’ll cast much wider. If we get these kids from the coasts, I’m excited to see what we can get from Denver, Kansas City and New Orleans."

On Gordon Ramsay being a constructive sweetie:
"The three judges are all fathers of children in this age range. They instantly know how to communicate with the kids. In the kitchen takeover Gordon was very direct with some of the kids, but at the same time it was so natural for the three guys to be very nurturing. But also, when you see these kids listening to Gordon and Joe, their minds are like sponges because they’re used to being in school five days a week. They just soaked up so much more information than the adults."

On the judges' raised expectations:
"I remember on day one we did the audition and the judges were like, 'How are we going to be? This food is not going to be as good as the adults’ so how do we approach it?' They just assumed the food would be fish fingers or beans on toast. Once some of those first plates got put in front of them on the audition episodes, the judges would have the same reaction that the audience has: 'Oh s--t, can they really do this?'"

On filming with kids:
"The season took almost three weeks to film. Right by the kitchen we have classrooms so they fulfilled all their mandatory classes. For us, production-wise, it was a challenge because we usually film on the grown 'MasterChef' a 12-hour day. With these guys, depending on which day of the week, and their age, the limit is just four hours a day. When those four hours are up, those four hours are up. We literally had to stop filming."

On parental supervision:
"There was always a chaperone and it was almost always a parent. They were at all times able to see what was going on in the kitchen. All of the parents actually sat together and watched what happened. They really bonded. It certainly wasn’t a 'Dance Moms' atmosphere."

On safety precautions:
"Every one of the rows has a medic right at the end of it that you rarely see. He has his or her eyes on one kid at all time. There’s no such thing as rubber knives and pretend boiling water on this show. If it’s real, it’s real. If we’re saying to America that these kids can cook these incredible dishes, there’s no reason to stand down and swap out water with trickery."

On preventing psychological trauma (this looks stressful!):
"Like all reality shows -- there’s no secret -- we take it very seriously how people will feel, so there’s always a debriefing. I walked on the set when Jack lost. I love him and his family and I was like, 'Jack it’s okay.' This is two minutes after he got eliminated and he’s like, 'It’s okay! It’s great. I’m going to see my dad and play with my dog!

With the grown-ups it’s like, 'What does this mean for my future?' The kids would be like, 'I made some great friends, see you later, Robin!' The bounce-back-ability is so beyond that of adults."

On that crazy prize money:
"None of these kids came knowing there was a prize. When we were out looking for these kids we didn't say, 'Hey, you could win this.' It was like, 'This sounds fun.'"

On Jack's "Hawaiian shirts and Dara's bow headbands:
"They were things they brought with them. But Joe in reality had this whole conversation with Jack about playing poker and Hawaiian shirts. In reality, it went on for a long time. He probably had two or three Hawaiian shirts with him. But it became a thing for him. These kids don’t need stylists."

On a possible Season 2:
"I think we’ve only scratched the surface. We want kids from very different social backgrounds and very different places. So, I’m excited to dig deeper and pull more people in next time around. The show is more successful when there are more kids making crepes with their dads because they’re watching shows like this."

On the season finale, Dara vs. Alexander:
"Favorites like Jack and Sarah have a presence in the finale. The cooking is not plain sailing it’s tough for those kids. This is not sugar-coated Disney cooking. There are ups and downs for them that make for a very stressful 42 minutes on the edge of your seat."

'MasterChef Junior' competitor Ben Watkins dead at 14 after battle with rare illness

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Ben Watkins, a former competitor on "MasterChef Junior," has died. He was 14 years old.

The young chef died in a Chicago Children's hospital on Monday, his family's attorney, Trent A. McCain, told Fox News on Tuesday.

Watkins was battling a rare illness known as Angiomatoid Fibrous Histiocytoma. Only six people in the world have been diagnosed with it, McCain said.

Watkins competed during season six of the Gordon Ramsay-hosted cooking competition show.

Ben Watkins on Season 6 of 'MasterChef Junior.' He has died at the age of 14 after a battle with a rare illness known as Angiomatoid Fibrous Histiocytoma. (FOX Entertainment)

His death was also announced in a statement from his family on a GoFundMe page.

"Our Ben went home to be with his mother Monday afternoon after a year-and-a-half-long battle with Cancer," read the statement.

Ben's parents died in a murder-suicide in 2017, just months before season six of "MasterChef Junior" premiered. He was cared for by his uncle after his surgery, McCain said.

Ben Watkins competed in the sixth season of 'MasterChef Junior.' (FOX Entertainment)

"Ben was and will always be the strongest person we know. When Ben's rare illness was shared with the world, he was so heartened by the outpouring of love he received from every corner of the globe-- especially here in his hometown of Gary, Indiana," the statement continued. "We cannot thank this community enough for holding our family up in prayer and for all that you've done."

The family concluded by saying that they have "taken solace" in knowing that Watkins is no longer suffering, and that "he was loved by so many."

Ramsay, 54, also paid tribute on social media on Tuesday.

"We lost a Master of the @MasterChefJrFOX kitchen today," he wrote alongside a photo of the young chef. "Ben you were an incredibly talented home cook and even stronger young man. Your young life had so many tough turns but you always persevered. Sending all the love to Ben Watkins’ family with this terrible loss."

FOX, the network on which the show aired, and distribution company, EndemolShine North America, released a similar joint statement as well.

"It is with great sadness that we mourn the passing of Ben Watkins, a beloved member of the MasterChef Junior family," they said. "Ben overcame so much in his life with a remarkably positive attitude. He was a tremendous role model for chefs of all ages and will be dearly missed by everyone at EndemolShine North America and FOX Entertainment."

After the news of Watkins' diagnosis went public, Ramsey and several judges and contestants from "MasterChef Junior" appeared in a video to wish their friend well and to encourage fans to donate to his GoFundMe.

MasterChef's Joe Bastianich wrote a memoir

In 2012, Joe Bastianich opened up about his life by writing a memoir, Restaurant Man . The book talks about his journey from working at his parents' restaurant to becoming one of the country's most successful restaurateurs.

Speaking about the book with the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel , Bastianich admitted that the double whammy of turning 40 followed by the death of his father provided the impetus to delve into his own life. Writing Restaurant Man, he said, was "cathartic and therapeutic" — and "cheaper than going to the $475-an-hour therapist."

Asked to summarize the "overall message" of his memoir, Bastianich said he wanted to present an unvarnished look at his life, "the good, bad and ugly. Some people might glean some life lessons. I think if you read the book you can understand what has made me, the son of an immigrant: People who left everything behind and worked hard, a sense of frugality and respect of earning money and how that's changed to this very media-driven entertainment business."

Season 2 MasterChef Junior

In the second-season premiere, 16 junior chefs are tasked to prepare dishes featuring Season 1 winner Alexander Weiss' favorite ingredients. The winner selects the proteins to be used in the elimination round before 12 contestants are chosen to advance in the competition.

A pancake-flipping contest precedes a challenge to create the best citrus cream pie.

A three-legged challenge is held to make a dozen cupcakes. Later, Gordon's mom visits the kitchen as a guest judge when the remaining contestants prepare one of the host's favorite dishes from his childhood.

The contestants fry eggs sunny-side up in a 10-minute challenge, and later prepare their signature dishes that will anchor their menus at a future restaurant.

The last six cooks split up into teams to compete in the inaugural restaurant challenge, with the winning group advancing to the semifinals.

The Top 4 junior chefs—Abby, Adaiah, Logan and Samuel—cut fillets from Alaskan king salmon, which are used in the next challenge to create a restaurant-quality dish with a limited number of ingredients.

The Season 2 finale crowns a winner, who receives a trophy and a $100,000 prize, after the Top 2 junior chefs prepare a three-course menu in the last challenge.

Watch the video: Junior Masterchef Swaad Ke Ustaad 1st September 2013 Video Watch Online p3 clip3