I was doing Uther therapy the other night while watching “The Biggest Loser” on Hulu, and when that episode ended, for some reason it decided to show me the first episode of “Masterchef Junior.” And since there were still more bunny limbs to manipulate, I shrugged and thought, “Why not?” I was a wee bit addicted to the original “Masterchef.” And possibly also “Hell’s Kitchen.” It might have something to do with Gordon Ramsay. In case you’re not familiar with the show, they take the “best” chefs (some may be amateurs, some may be professional chefs) and pit them against one another in a variety of situations/challenges and then judge and dismiss/advance them accordingly. They really value Excellence, so if you fall anywhere near short, Ramsay and his team rip you a new one. “Emotionally abusive” would not be far off the mark in describing their commentary. This made me a little bit nervous since the contestants on “Masterchef Junior” are between 9 and 13 years old. And generally we frown on child abuse. But wow. The kids are very impressive for the most part (although, many of them fell apart when they had to bake and frost a layer cake in 90 minutes) and the kind of dishes they come up with and prepare…they are things even those professionals wouldn’t think of. There’s this enthusiasm and excitement running through every episode – we’re all dying to know what those kids will come up with next and how they’ll overcome the obstacles (triumphantly in most cases) the judges set before them. And the professionals are honestly amazed by these young people. I can’t stop smiling. It makes me so happy. And Gordon and his crew are KIND, and ENCOURAGING. They put the kids through some stressful situations, but they also offer praise and constructive criticism both, when warranted.
In the episode I watched tonight, they cooked in an actual restaurant. They were split into 2 teams and each team had to learn how to prepare 2 different appetizers and 2 different main courses. Together they served about 50 people. They were required to prepare orders as they were received (so they couldn’t just cook a bunch of each dish and stockpile them) and had to figure out their team dynamics – difficult for a lot of them. When they brought the kids out to meet the restaurant patrons at the end of the competition, the diners could not believe that they’d been eating this food cooked by these young people. Some of them openly wept (I got something in my eye).
I rather wish this was the strategy they used with the adults, too. I never watched the original show for the judges’ verbal onslaught – it was more because I was fascinated by the cooking itself and the creativity of the competitors. Well done!