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MasterChef Junior Season 5 Returns with 20 New Hopefuls

Posted on: February 19th, 2017 by Taryn Jeffries No Comments

This month MasterChef Junior Season 5 began with a whole new group of hopeful tiny home cooks. These little people put my cooking skills to shame but I just love watching them to see what they come up with. They exhibit such passion for cooking and knowledge that rivals that of some adults. (Ahem, they are all definitely more savvy than I am in the kitchen!)

masterchef junior season 5 top 20 contestantsThe top 20 Juniors will face a wide array of exciting challenges throughout this new season. Former First Lady Michelle Obama will challenge the contestants with preparing a meal for more than 50 first responders. Mayim Bialik will challenge the group with creating the first-ever vegan specific dishes on the show. Other celebrities that will make an appearance include Julie Bowen, Miss Piggy and (my favorite) the Swedish Chef.

On the February 23rd episode the MasterChef Junior Season 5 contenders will be presented with their first Mystery Box Challenge of the season and will be tasked with putting their own spin on the most commonly eaten crop in the world: rice. Later in the episode, Gordon Ramsay will teach the kids how to make his signature hand-roasted sea bass, which they will have to replicate. Aaron Sanchez will be joining Gordon Ramsay and Christina Tosi as the third judge this season.

The pint-sized hopefuls will be vying for the title of MasterChef Junior Season 5 which includes a pretty snazzy trophy along with a $100,000 grand prize.

Meet the MasterChef Junior Season 5 Top 20 Finalists

California Contestants

Adam | Age 12 | Sacramento | Adam loves science and cooking and strives to combine the two as often as he can. He exhibited this by his winning cupcakes, which he topped with a frosting that included smoked nutmeg and cinnamon.
Mashu | Age 13 | Thousand Oaks | Mashu was born in Japan and hopes to one day create a restaurant in which he can serve Italian-Japanese fusion.

Georgia Contestants

Afnan | Age 12 | Jonesboro | Afnan is from Bangladesh and told Gordon that he bet that, as a Bengali, that he had eaten more crazy things in his life than the master himself.
Jasmine | Age 11 | Milton | Jasmine is part Jamaican and likes her dishes to reflect her culture and personality; spicy and fiery.
Justise | Age 11 | Sugar Hill | Both of Justice’s parents are police officers, which explains how she got her name. She wants to be a teacher when she grows up and works to prevent bullying at her school.

Illinois Contestants

Avani | Age 8 | Chicago | Avani loves to cook Indian food as a way to celebrate both her culture and her father who has helped to teach her to cook.
Charlie | Age 9 | Chicago | Charlie has a big personality and a lot of confidence. He says, “Just let me throw something in a pan and I can knock your socks off!”
Evan| Age 10 | Chicago | Evan has traveled all over the world and has taken those experiences and let them influence his cooking style.

Massachusetts Contestants

Lila | Age 9 | Rockport | Lila lives on an island in Massachusetts and the availability of fresh, high quality seafood has definitely affected her cooking style. She only got started cooking at age 7 and describes herself as self-taught. Getting through to the first phase of competition made her “secrets” clear to her: “You gotta stay focused, you gotta stay true to yourself and you gotta cook your heart out!”
Sam | Age 9 | Concord | Sam loves cooking and fencing. After being awarded with his white MasterChef Junior apron he said, “I’ve worn a lot of uniforms, football and fencing, but this one is definitely one of the best!”

Mississippi Contestant

Mark | Age 13 | Starkville | Mark is a good ol’ Southern gentleman, saying y’all, ma’am and sir. He was raised to love his country, his family and football and now he is adding cooking to that list.

New Jersey Contestant

Peyton | Age 10 | Ringoes | Peyton is a world traveler and stated that her favorite trip was to Paris. She loves to take in the food of other countries and incorporate those flavors into her own cooking.

New York Contestants

Cydney | Age 10 | Brooklyn | Two of Cydney’s favorite pastimes are knitting and baking; not your typical 10-year-old hobbies. She dreams of one day opening up a cafe that serves her baked goods and pastries.
Donovan | Age 9 | Brooklyn | Donovan loves to cook Asian cuisine, which can be attributed to his Chinese nanny who has taught him how to cook.
Eddie | Age 9 | New York City | Eddie spends most of his time in the kitchen cooking up Chinese specialties but he also has a flair for Jewish cuisine. After receiving his white apron he said that he was 155% proud of himself.
Gonzalo | Age 11 | Whitestone | Gonzalo’s grandmother taught him everything that he knows about Peruvian cooking. He described himself as a nerdy kid who reads too many cookbooks. Once he got his apron he said that this proves to all those people that thought that he couldn’t do anything that they were wrong. (I just wanted to give him a big hug when I heard that!)

Texas Contestants

Elisabeth | Age 9 | Sweetwater | Elisabeth is one of five children and put together a fundraiser to raise money to get to her MasterChef Junior audition. Its looking like it was all for a very worthy cause!
Shayne | Age 13 | Spring | Shayne said that he is 200% Texas. He loves to cook up all kinds of meat, making sure that it all contains a little Texas kick!
Solomon | Age 10 | Houston | Solomon is involved in just about every afterschool activity that you can think of: gardening, computer coding and choir. Even with all these activities he makes sure to make time for cooking which he see as an art form.

Wisconsin Contestant

Sydney | Age 9 | West Bend | Sydney described herself as unique, awkward and quirky. She loves to cook fish and said that the first meal that she made for her dad included salmon.

My Preliminary Picks For MasterChef Junior Season 5 Winners

After watching the two initial episodes I definitely have my favorites, though all the boys and girls are endearing and precious. I am currently rooting for Sydney, who gave herself little affirmations while she was cooking. She spoke to herself saying, “I believe in myself” and “you can do this.” I also really like Eddie who has the most precious chubby face, perfectly appointed glasses and dapper bowtie. His confidence, even behind his tiny voice, makes me believe that he’s got some tricks ans surprises up his sleeve!

You can catch all these kids and new episodes of MasterChef Junior Season 5 Thursday nights on FOX. Until the next show airs, check out this video where the kids discuss why they are better than grown-up chefs.

If you are looking for the best and latest in Arizona restaurant and culinary news, please make sure to sign up for our newsletter, give us a like on Facebook, follow us on Twitter and Instagram to make sure that you never miss a bite!

© Taryn Jeffries 2017

About the Author - Taryn Jeffries

Editor and Chief Eating Officer of PhoenixBites, 2017 Food Writer of the Year (Arizona Culinary Hall of Fame) Taryn grew up in a small town in Illinois with a doting Grandmother who taught her the way around a kitchen and that food is representative of love. Her current quest is to find the love in local dishes and the chefs behind them. In addition to running all things PhoenixBites, Taryn is also a freelance writer, sharing her insight on the best dishes and where to get them each and every month.

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