As the eighth season of FOX’s MasterChef Junior winds down to a close, the six remaining contestants are battling it out at Los Angeles’ luxurious NoMad Hotel in the new Thursday episode on May 26. The mini chefs will be divided into two teams and must serve dinner to a full dining room at the restaurant, all while being stared upon by Gordon Ramsay, Aarón Sánchez, and Daphne Oz.
Season eight has been one of the toughest competitions yet, with the beginning 16 chef-testants facing a laundry list of unique tasks. Earlier this season, the chefs had to cook meals for a jam-packed historical renaissance fair, took on monster trucks as a motocross track, and had the pleasure of welcoming host Gordon Ramsay’s daughter, Tilly, into the kitchen for a donut challenge.
Watch LAMag‘s exclusive first look clip of the episode airing this Thursday at 8:00-9:00 PM ET/PT on FOX.
In light of the buzzy upcoming episode, we caught up with Ivy Childs, 11, who is one of the six surviving contestants on the show.
LAMag‘s Julius Miller: When did you first begin cooking and what drew you to it?
Ivy Childs: Really ever since I was like a little baby—ever since I could climb up on the counter. I was always helping my mom like chop and cook… even if it was stirring the bowl or any task, really, I just was happy to help since I’m the baby of four. I was always like making my siblings snacks and stuff. I don’t know, I just kind of grew to love it!
What does cooking mean to you and what do you feel when you begin making something?
I feel a sense of accomplishment at the end when it’s all done and it looks pretty. And then I don’t really want to eat it because I don’t want to ruin it. But when I’m really cooking I just feel happy—it just makes me happy. And like if I’m like annoyed or if I’m like stressed or anything, cooking just calms me down.
A lot of people talk about the different dynamics between Gordon Ramsay with adults and with kids—he is typically known for being a lot more intense with the former. What has your experience been?
He’s not as mean to the kids as he is to the adults because he has kids. So, he understands what a kid is thinking. And then also the expression like ‘a lion in a lambs clothing,’ he’s like a lamb and lions clothing; on the outside, he’s scary, but when you get to know him and you spend a long time with him, he becomes nice and won’t explode.
What role do you think he is played in your career as a chef?
Gordon Ramsay has taught me so much, like certain strategies; he might come over and be like, ‘this is a better strategy to do this.’ Then, you learn so much and you take little by little with you—little things like little tricks. And I feel like that’s helped me because now I can go back and remember, ‘oh, I can kind of onion this way.’
What is the craziest moment that you’ve really experienced on the show or in your career?
It’s not really the craziest experience, but I feel like that first episode when I didn’t cook my cobbler for long enough. I felt like that at that moment, I realized that it wasn’t a time to mess around. I had to just show my best and really make sure that the judges knew that I could cook.
What is your favorite dish to prepare?
I don’t really have a favorite dish to make because I like making anything as simple as meatballs to bronzini. If I had to choose just based on taste? I make these lamb chops with parmesan bread crumbs on them and they taste very good!
If you could share one thing that you would want the world to know about you before seeing the show what would it be?
I feel like it’s really important to get your kids in the kitchen. In general, it’s good for math and fine motor skills as well as socializing because when you have a party, you want to know how to cook and talk to someone. I feel like I was in the kitchen at such a young age, and it’s a really important thing to do.
Note: Scenes were shot at the NoMad Hotel prior to its temporary closure.
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