Junior Masterchef: kids in the kitchen

This column was originally published in the Central Western Daily on Tuesday 14th September.

Sunday night saw the debut of Junior Masterchef, a retread of the successful Masterchef format, but this time with kids. I must admit to becoming addicted to the original series. Whilst I have never really enjoyed cooking programs, there was something special about the show that really hooked me in.

I guess we all have to eat, so watching delicious and beautifully presented food being prepared and served is something we can all appreciate. However, I think it was the human drama that really attracted me. Witnessing regular folk undertake and (mostly) overcome challenges had real appeal. And the art of cooking is something that we all can improve on in some way, so it is something that is easy to relate to, unlike shows such as Survivor which sees the contestants face ridiculous tasks and challenges.

I must admit though, I avoided the second season of Masterchef. I just wasn’t prepared to commit to six nights a week of viewing for months on end. That was going to require far more dedication than I was prepared to give (again). Of course, that would be a different story if we were talking about whacky Japanese game shows or wrestling.

The first episode of Junior Masterchef saw a bunch of kids cook up an array of totally amazing dishes. The quality of the cooking was surprising but what totally shocked me was how confident and ambitious these young people were. I am sure that kids weren’t like this when I was growing up.

Back in the eighties, when I was the same age as the Masterchef kids, I certainly didn’t have any plans to open up my own restaurant as soon as I turned eighteen. In fact, I had no idea what I wanted to be when I got older. Actually, I did, I wanted to be Batman.

There’s also no way that I would’ve been able to sit in front of a camera and speak as eloquently about food as the aspiring kiddie cooks did.  I’m almost certain that if placed in a similar situation, my twelve year old self would’ve scratched himself and mumbled something about liking Space Food Sticks.

I’m also sure kids weren’t as self-assured back then. In fact, the only super confident kids I knew were the school bully and the Young Talent Team (and they were robots).

At the age of twelve, my cooking abilities extended to grilling fish fingers and heating up frozen pizzas in the oven. I barely knew how to make two minute noodles in four minutes. And let’s not mention the time I put the frozen pizza, complete with plastic tray, in the oven for twenty minutes.

The Junior Masterchef kitchen was set in the same warehouse-like concrete and steel cavern as previous series. The main difference was that the cooking stations were tiny, as if the kitchen renovations were done by Fisher Price. The kids were also given red plastic knives instead of metal ones.  Whilst it was probably a wise idea to give the kids safe sharps, did they forget about the hot ovens, frying oil and boiling water?

Junior Masterchef airs once a week so will be ideal for those of us that think a little cravat goes a long way. Hearing the words “caramelise” and “reduction” each week will give me a sense of comfort, even if I have no idea what they mean. The kids will probably become less cute and more annoying over the season, but I guess there will be lots of gorgeous food to ogle.

Although you probably shouldn’t be allowed to make a crockenbush unless you can spell it and be taller than one, I’m sure plenty of us will get hooked by Junior Masterchef.

Published in: on September 14, 2010 at 09:17  Leave a Comment  
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