SPOILER ahead. Which! Of these two kind, genuine, well-spoken adolescents — a rarity! on any television program — rose to the top and won the STUNNING! title of first-ever MasterChef Junior? And the winner is….
After a grueling three-course final challenge, it seems an ambitious dessert (deconstructed “Napoleon” cannoli with marscapone and mixed berries) gave just the slightest edge to soft-spoken pastry cherub Alexander Weiss, 13, from NYC. Runner-up Dara Yu, 12, an inflatable bow headband enthusiast from Los Angeles, wowed judges Gordon Ramsay, Graham Elliot, and Joe Bastianich almost as much, especially with her technically proficient appetizer of ahi tuna prepared two ways. “That is not the mentality of a 12-year-old,” insisted a bewildered Elliot. “What’s wrong with you?”
Bastianich continued his MasterChef trend of proudly proclaiming, Supermarket Sweep-style, how much the contestants’ dishes might sell for in Manhattan. He’d have paid $45 for Dara’s spot prawns with coconut curry sauce and shrimp/scallop dumplings, and $25 for her poke/seared tuna. So now we know!
Season 4 winner Luca Manfé was on hand up on the balcony to gesture wildly for the young finalists (he swears they might have beaten him if they’d been allowed to play with the grown-ups) and yelp his way through a series of confessionals. The guy remains a reality TV producer’s dream. During the competition, it should be noted, Alexander followed Luca’s lead of offering his own extra ingredient to a competitor in a time of need. (Eat it, Natasha! Nice guys finish first.)
All the MasterChef kids returned to make lovely faces at us from the balcony:
We see you, Sarah!
Whose food were you dying to eat tonight? I could almost taste Alexander’s pan-seared veal chop with butter-sage gnocchi. Only almost, though. And typing it out like that is making the craving even worse. I gotta go get some dinner.
Happy with the winner? Discuss!