It’s the semifinals in the MasterChef Junior kitchen and the pressure is on. With just four kids left, the judges have come up with challenges that leave some of the better chefs a little thrown off. The final two chefs at the end of these challenges then head into the finals next week.

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A Big Fish in a Little Pond

As the four semifinalists head to their stations in this week’s episode, “A Cut Above the Rest,” they are presented with a knife and a cutting board. The judges tell them to head to the pantry where they will find their own fish to cut and eventually prepare. After they choose their salmon, they struggle to head back to their stations.

Gordon dons his apron to explain and show the contestants how to perfectly filet a salmon. He explains that the key to the perfect cut is not only cleaning the bone, but also cleaning the knife in between use. The goal for the kids is to cut as many perfect filets, preferably seven-ounce pieces, as possible in 30 minutes. The winner of the competition, of course, gets the advantage in the next challenge.

Adaiah and Samuel seem to have no issues cutting their fish and filet pieces, while Logan struggles by leaving too much on the bone, and Abby just has trouble cutting in general. A disappointing presentation by Abby as far as I’m concerned, as she is my frontrunner this season. In the end, Adaiah comes out the winner with 13 perfect cuts. Samuel is upset, as he’s always trying to wow the judges and always wants the advantage.

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Sometimes Less is More

Adaiah has an awesome advantage going into the next challenge, and she really strategizes her moves. Inside the pantry are four refrigerators that contain a different number of ingredients — 100, 50, 25 and five. After much thought, Adaiah decides to take the 50 ingredients for herself. She gives the 100 ingredients to Abby, hoping to distract her with the amount. And she gives the 25 ingredients to Samuel, as she explains that the ingredients are “simple” and Samuel likes to make complex dishes. He doesn’t seem fazed, though, by her decision, saying he will make something exotic with the pedestrian ingredients. Logan gets the five ingredients, but doesn’t really seem bothered by it.

The kids have 45 minutes to cook their best salmon filet using the ingredients in the refrigerators. Adaiah knows exactly what she’s doing and she takes advantage of her 50 ingredients, using 15-18 all together. Samuel, of course, goes for the exotic, preparing a dish I have never even hear of, let alone can pronounce. Abby gets completely thrown off while cooking, running back to her fridge several times to get more ingredients. And Logan just chugs along with his five items, just hoping to make the best dish to get into the finals.

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What Do the Judges Think?

Logan makes an Olive Oil Poached Salmon with Potato Rosette and Broccoli Rabe/Lemon Puree. Gordon loves it, calling it a bold move. All the judges love the flavor.

Abby makes a Mango & Orange Glazed Salmon with Carrot Puree. Gordon immediately sees that it’s probably dry, and he’s right. While all the judges love the puree, they agree that it’s overcooked.

Samuel makes a Pan Seared Salmon with Tomato Confit and Cilantro-Shallot Gremolata. Graham likes the flavor, but says it’s slightly overcooked. Gordon says he should have given him a bigger piece.

Adaiah cooks an Asian-Style Salmon with Garlic Broccoli and Green Bean Stir-Fry. And while all the judges love the presentation and flavor, they also agree that it has too much garlic, which overpowers the dish.

And the Final Two Are…

In the end, only two can move on to the finals. And unfortunately, as much as we all wanted a girl to win, Samuel and Logan move on. They will go head-to-head in the MasterChef Junior season 2 finale, and one will go home with the title of MasterChef Junior and $100,000.

I find it very touching when Joe steps down off his post to comfort Abby. She is the youngest contestant to make it into the Top 4, which is no easy feat. As I mentioned last week, all of these kids are winners in my book. I’m sure Abby and Adaiah will do great things in the kitchen in their futures, or at least I hope so.

The Logan and Samuel showdown should be a good one next week. I do like how Logan went from a shy cook in the back to a finalist. Samuel has been very forward and competitive, so I’m not surprised he’s moved on. Since they have opposite styles of cooking, it should be an interesting competition. I kind of hope Logan wins, but I have a feeling Samuel’s confidence may make him the winner. 

The MasterChef Junior season 2 finale airs next Tuesday at 8pm on FOX.

(Image courtesy of FOX)