MasterChef Junior Season 3, Episode 4:Knowledge and Confidence

MasterChef-Junior-LogoWatching MasterChef Junior at times makes me think that Gordon, Graham, and Joe missed their calling to be kids birthday planner. They seem to work well with kids and come up with ways to entertain and challenge them. If this were a show on PBS, it would be a an extension of Sesame Street. But alas no, this is a competition in which young children (and we must remember that)are competing to win a coveted prize with real cash money attached to it. And sometimes I wonder if the challenges are really geared to kids or for the judges.

After the usual banter after entering the kitchen (and Graham showing us some dance moves), the three winners from last week (Cory, Jenna and Nathan) are given baskets and a list of ingredients. They have to fill them to win the coveted top honor for the next challenge. They have a huge pantry at MasterChef that is fully stocked with just about everything grown, raised, or farmed. The pantry appears large, almost like one of those supersize hardware stores. But remember that sets can be designed to look bigger than they actually appear. At any rate, our youngsters have to fill the carts with items on the cards given to them. Sounds easy until it is pointed out nothing is labeled. And they have only two minutes. Some things are easy to spot while others are more difficult if you have never seen them before.To add more pressure the other kids follow them into the kitchen if for nothing else to kind of cheer them on (which adds more pressure).

When all is counted up in the end, Jenna gets the win with the most correct number of items from the list. Jenna’s reward is not to head up to the balcony but to choose teams for as yet unspecified challenge. This is a time for strategy but she shied away from that except for Cory and Jack. Jack is concerned about working with Cory. Cory, as we used to say when I was a kid, is a spatz. Now that is not a bad word, it just means the kid has lots of energy. And when the task is revealed, it is a doozy: a sushi boat. Sushi is not just slicing and dicing up fish. It is a very technical and precise way of presenting raw fish and its accompaniments. It takes a lot of training to become an expert. I understand why they throw this at adults but why at kids? It makes me wonder if there is a dichotomy on this show. I noticed it last season. On one hand they want to treat these kids as kids yet they put demands on them same as the adults. In fact I believe they seem them as just little chefs waiting to grow up into the big outfits. They may outwardly treat them as children but many of the tasks say otherwise.

This challenge was a team challenge but tag-team. Which means one person cooks while the other stands watching the other cook. To pull this off you need confidence in each other. And you have to be careful not to talk down your partner so as to loose confidence. Replicating a sushi boat is difficult as it is without causing unnecessary friction. Teams that worked well together produced good to excellent dishes. Those that had problems either in working with each other or just not having the confidence to pull it off, ended up on the bottom. Jenna and Kayla bicker so their confidence was lost and their dish reflected it. Likewise Cory and Jack have problems as well so their dish is not great either. Andrew and Riley really worked well together and their dish reflected it. Ayla and Jimmy did it better. They simply and mostly quietly did their work and produced a dish that won the night. That left Jenna/Kayla and Cory/Jack on the bottom.

And the decision was Cory and Jack left the kitchen. Some out on the Internet are not happy with this decision. Jenna and Kayla’s dish looked worse but the judges decided Cory and Jack were worse. It may have been a close decision or two versus one. The judges tasted both dishes so obviously one was worse than the other. At any rate the group gets smaller and smaller, not unlike taking a trip through the Willy Wonka factory.

There was an interesting bit of side news for the show. At one point, a chimpanzee was used for an episode on the show. What exactly it was doing is unclear and MasterChef says it was all done under the guidance of the American Humane Association to make sure nothing was done wrong. PETA, the radical animals rights group that wants to ban all meat from our diets (along with dairy as well), got mad when the saw a Facebook post. So they let Masterchef know of their displeasure. Now the official word is that they decided to drop using the filmed scenes for “creative reasons.” Perhaps but it shows the almost charade this show is becoming relying on such gimmicks.

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