Tonight’s final six contestants on MasterChef Junior take over an expensive restaurant’s kitchen with a twist: none of the diners will know that their chefs are merely ages 8 through 13.

For me, tonight’s episode is the most nerve-racking ever of the MasterChef and Hell’s Kitchen series. Not because Gordon Ramsay is losing his mind on children, because he’s not, but because I cannot imagine being in their shoes. I am so afraid that these talented cooks will lose their composure and the diners will not get served.

Before we begin, thank you to all the MasterChef Junior fans who voted in the MasterChef Junior Top 12 Showdown. The results are in: Sarah won as your favorite! Let us know if you agree.

Taking Over Lunch Service at High-End Drago Centro

Today’s top six contestants are very nervous about their latest challenge: they are going into the real world to take over the lunch service of a high-end Italian restaurant in Los Angeles: Drago Centro. Joe said this is a sold-out restaurant with repeat diners who are bankers, politicians, and others who know good food. The only thing they won’t know is how old the chefs are. 

Alexander thinks this challenge is crazy, and Troy thinks it will be too big for all to handle.

Choosing Teams

In the restaurant, Dara and Gavin are team captains thanks to winning the dessert challenge last week. Dara, a previous swimming competitor in the Junior Olympics, says she’s out to compete and win. Troy wants to be on Dara’s team, but Dara chooses Alexander. Gavin picks Troy. Troy is worried about being on Gavin’s team; he said he must pretend he’s happy, but he’s not. Gavin then hopes Dara will pick Sarah, but she picks Jack. So the teams shake out as hoped for the Red Team, and not to the likings of the Blue Team:

Red Team

  • Dara
  • Alexander
  • Jack

Blue Team

  • Gavin
  • Troy
  • Sarah

The Judges will get feedback from those eating and will decide the winning team. The losing team is up for elimination.

Scary Prepping and Plating

The children head to their stations in the kitchen and are greeted by Drago Centro’s executive chef, Chef Ian Gresik. Chef Ian shows the competitors how to replicate Drago’s dishes. Their eyes get wide and watery as they look at the dishes they must make. They whip out notebooks and pencils to quickly scribble down the ingredients and directions. 

Who can keep up? Truthfully I didn’t understand everything they were making even after watching the entire episode, but I got out of it: seared albacore tuna, ravioli, and a pan seared fish for appetizers. A fish with a balsamic stamp on the plate with artichokes and cherry tomatoes. Tuna risotto, searing the tuna on all sides and putting a risotto cake in the center. Pencils are flying: add onions, carrots and celery here. 

They also have to prep their pasta ahead of time, piping the filling into the ravioli shells and then sealing up the sides with water.

Sarah is the most nervous about the plating. She is so focused. I wish I could give her a hug.

Chef Ian will be tasting dishes, and Chef Gordon will be the expediter. Nothing can pass that will be substandard.

Chaos in the Kitchen

These children who ordinarily have it so put together start to fall apart under pressure. They are very talented individually, but on teams they are still learning to talk to one another. I can feel the heat of the kitchen just watching these kids sweat, argue and cry. Some highlights:

  • Dara worries they would see the mean side of Gordon Ramsay (but he is more of a teacher than a tyrant today.)
  • Gavin taunts the Red Team when the Blue Team’s raviolis were finished first.
  • Gavin is Blue Team Captain, but Troy takes charge. Out of fear of losing, Troy takes Sarah off of vegetables and cooking in general. Gavin didn’t delegate the responsibilities. Sarah cries after Troy pushed her out of the kitchen.
  • Alexander and Dara butt heads on the Red Team. 

Bon Appetit

Meanwhile, the dining room fills with people drinking their reds and whites. The diners like the appetizers, especially the presentation, but the tastes vary slightly. Feedback on the entrees is similar. 

Overall, the diners, executive chef, and judges are impressed with the plating and tastes of the dishes. When Gordon Ramsay introduces the chefs to the diners and six junior chefs walking out of the kitchen, cheers erupt. The diners give a standing ovation, some are crying. Gordon says that this is the first time on MasterChef that no dishes were sent back to the kitchen.

The Final Four

Back at MasterChef Kitchen, the Red Team is declared the winning team. Along with them, Troy is spared. Sarah and Gavin are crying, but proud of their efforts. Sarah predicts Troy would win due to his talent, and Gavin predicts Jack will win due to his determination and heart. 

Alexander, Dara, Jack, and Troy move into the semi-finals of MasterChef Junior. It’s anyone’s game now.

MasterChef airs Fridays at 8pm on FOX.

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(Image courtesy of FOX)

Candice Lombardi

Contributing Writer, BuddyTV