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.
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.
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.
Images: Greg Gayne/Fox, MasterChef/Facebook (4)