12 Kitchen Secrets from the Kids on MasterChef Junior
Ready for some tough love by some tiny chefs?
We can learn a lot from the experts, and sometimes those experts come in pint-size packages. The kid chef contestants on this season of MasterChef Junior, hosted by Gordon Ramsey and pastry chef Christina Tosi, might not have any James Beard awards, but they’re got drive, determination and adorableness on their side. So, we decided to ask them for their best cooking advice … and they delivered. You can catch Season 6 of Masterchef Junior on FOX Fridays, 8/7 central.
Take It to the Next Level
“The key to making a dish extraordinary is to start with something classic and then add your own spin on it, like more complex ingredients and flavors. I make my dishes memorable by making them personal and put my own style into it so that it will stand out as my own.” —Quani, 13, Lawrenceville, Georgia
Start With These Two Staples
“I LOVE mushrooms and potatoes. Together, they make a delicious combination and side dish. I like the fact each ingredient can go in many cultural cuisines: French, Japanese, Hawaiian, Italian, Norwegian, Australian—they can go many ways.” —Even Estrada, 13, San Diego, California
Don’t Be Afraid of Messing Up
“A common cooking mistake is confusing ingredients with each other. For example, I’ve confused sugar for salt and baking soda for baking powder. Nobody is perfect in or out of the kitchen. But what I learned on MasterChef Junior is that you learn from your mistakes. Mistakes make us stronger chefs and stronger people.” —Olivia, 12, New York City
For Beginner Chefs
“Start by chopping vegetables and learning knife skills. Then I would start making soups. Simple soups can be made with almost anything and you can add rice for a hearty meal.” —Beni, 11, Chicago, Ill.
Maybe start with one of these 30 Chicken Noodle Soup Recipes from Around the World.
Fresh is Best
“I’m really particular about good ingredients. I don’t eat fast food because I realized how incredible it is to grow your own vegetables and serve them in nearly minutes after it was picked. In the summertime, we have a garden where we home grow lots of our vegetables. Whatever we don’t grow, we buy from a local farm stand. Our family is very much ‘garden-to-table.'” —Remy, 14, New York City
Don’t Slack on Plating
“Add lots of love, compassion, and thought into your dish. Studies have shown that when you work while being happy, that is when you perform best! You need to have finesse. That will help your plates look very clean yet beautiful. Learning how to plate a dish can take a basic meal and turn it into a fine dining experience.” —Even Estrada, 13, San Diego, Calif.
“My favorite ingredients are sugar, vanilla and flour because they are simple ingredients but when I put them together they make something delicious. Baking is a science so measuring is important, using the wrong measurements is a big mistake when baking. I would suggest learning measurements and their abbreviations.” —Quani, 13, Lawrenceville, Georgia
Is Your Soul In It?
“I think making a dish extraordinary just means putting a lot of heart and care into it. I make my dishes memorable by putting my soul into them.” —Beni, 11, Chicago, Illinois (You can put your heart into one of these 20 Heart-Shaped Recipes.)
Ignore the Haters
“The advice I would give to other kids who want to learn how to cook is to follow your dreams and don’t let people get in your mind and tell you that you can’t. Start off with simple dishes and begin to add your own flair to them.” —Emily Chavez, 10, Sylmar, California
Think Outside the Box
“Do something that nobody’s ever done before or think about a wild combination that might seem ‘blech!’ at first. You have to be a little adventurous in the kitchen! There were times on MasterChef Junior where I finished a dish and thought that there was little something missing. I would taste it and then taste it again. Is it over-the-top? That is the question I ask myself whenever I cook ANYTHING. Do your own thing, or else you’ll just blend in.” —Remy, 14, New York City
Just Add Cumin
“My favorite ingredients to use are cumin and red wine. Cumin has such an amazing flavor and can be used as a seasoning in a lot of foods. I also love the dry flavor of red wine when it’s in a sauce. You need to include a lot of new flavors that you wouldn’t usually add to a dish to make it special.”—Emily Chavez, 10, Sylmar, California
Try these Roasted Cumin Cashews to start.
Cook What You Love
“I always cook what I want to eat, which is usually dessert—cupcakes, cake, macarons, you name it! So, my advice is to cook what you love to eat.”—Olivia, 12, New York City
You can’t go wrong with one of these Winning Dessert Recipes.
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