Meet the NY Metro Area Contenders on 'MasterChef Junior' Season 5

Meet the NY Metro Area Contenders on 'MasterChef Junior' Season 5

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Meet the MasterChef Junior Season 5 contestants who hail from the New York metro area, including Cydney from Brooklyn, Donovan from Brooklyn, Eddie from Manhattan, and Gonzalo from Queens.

   
Season 5 of MasterChef Junior premiered on Thursday, Feb. 9, with a two-episode challenge to whittle the top 40 down to the top 20. The show features talented young chefs from across the country, and starting this week, you can see four New York City kids competing in the top 20 for the coveted title of MasterChef Junior on Thursdays at 8pm on FOX. But before you tune in, take a few minutes to get to know the local contestants, including Cyndey from Brooklyn, Donovan from Brooklyn, Eddie from Manhattan, and Gonzalo from Queens. 

 

masterchef junior season 5 cydney

Meet MasterChef Junior Cyndey

Age: 10
Hometown: Brooklyn

How old were you when you first started cooking, and do you remember what your first learned to make?
I was about 7 or 8, and the first thing I made was probably scrambled eggs.

How would you describe your cooking style?
It’s a mix of a lot of different things because I don’t like to cook one cuisine. I like to bake a lot.

Is there a dish you like to make a lot?
I like making soufflés a lot because you can make a lot of different flavors, and it’s fun.

Who inspired you to get in the kitchen?
My mom did. She always was cooking, and I was like, that looks like fun, I’d love to do that.

What do you love about cooking?
I love that you get to eat the food! And there are no limits. You can do anything. You can make different cuisines, and its fun. It’s just a good thing to learn.

What advice do you have for other kids who have an interest in learning to cook?
I say go for it. I mean, be sure that your parent is okay with it first—that took a little while—and just go for it. It’s a lot of fun!

How do you balance cooking with school, after-school activities, and seeing friends?
I make time for it. If I want to make dinner, then right when I get back from school, I can do it. Or if I’m going to a friend’s house and I want to make cookies, I can do that.

What is your idea of a perfect meal?
I love beef Wellington. That's one of my favorites because I love the puff pastry. And also my perfect idea of a meal is dessert after, because that’s always great.

Who is your favorite chef?
My favorite chef is probably Christina Tosi. She’s like the queen of baking. And she’s just a great role model.

What was it like to meet Christina Tosi?
It was great because I couldn’t really imagine meeting someone as big in the cooking world as her, and it was just really cool because it’s always nice to meet your idol.

What cooking show do you always watch?
Well, of course, MasterChef Junior. I like the Great British Baking Show, that one’s fun.

Is there a cooking technique or dish you haven’t conquered yet, but want to try?
I really want to try cooking these things called canelé. They’re a little pastry and they take a little while to make. They have beeswax in them, but they seem very cool.

What is your favorite restaurant in your hometown?
I like this place called Ki Sushi. It has really great sushi and a ton of Japanese food. I really like the seared duck there.

What do you want to do when you grow up?
I definitely want to be a chef. I’d like to own a little café that sells sandwiches and pastries.

Besides cooking, what are your favorite activities or hobbies?
I love to knit, and that’s not really what a lot of kids my age like to do. I learned when I was about 7, and I made my first baby sweater when I was 8. And I also like to read a lot.

Why did you want to be on MasterChef Junior?
I’ve always loved the show, and a lot of kids at my school were talking about it. I was like, oh, I love to cook—this is perfect! And one of the reasons why I wanted to learn how to cook was from watching the show. So I just thought how cool would it be to actually be on it?!

What was the best part about being on the show?
The best part was all the friends I made, and I got to meet amazing chefs who taught me so much. And it was just a great experience.

What was your reaction when you found out you would be competing on the show?
I was so excited. I mean, I just couldn’t believe it. I wanted to audition, but I didn’t think I’d actually get on. I could only dream about it, and it was just amazing that I actually did get on.

What was it like to be selected for the top 20?
I was like okay, maybe I’m actually good at cooking! I’ve always loved to cook, but my parents were always the people who said it was great. And of course they’re my parents, so they kind of need to sugarcoat it a little bit. But I found out my food was actually good. I was like flying high.

What was most difficult or most fun about your challenge to get in the top 20?
The most challenging part was the time that we had to do it in because we only had 45 minutes. It’s very challenging to cook in that amount of time, especially to bake because it’s like a science, so it’s very hard.

RELATED: Find Cooking Classes for Kids Near You

 

masterchef junior season 5 donovanMeet MasterChef Junior Donovan

Age: 9
Hometown: Brooklyn

How old were you when you first started cooking, and do you remember what your first learned to make?
I started cooking, I think I was 3 years old, and the dish I cooked was probably chili.

Is there a cuisine you like to cook?
I like making Asian food.

Do you have certain food you like to make?
Right now, I like cooking hot sauces because there’s a lot of peppers and combinations of peppers you can use.

Who inspired you to get in the kitchen?
My dad and my grandma inspired me because they cook a lot for me. I decided to try it, and I kept practicing, and I tried out for the show.

What do you love about cooking?
When I cook it makes people happy, and when people are happy, I’m happy.

What advice do you have for other kids who have an interest in learning to cook?
I think everybody should try to cook, at least see if they’re good at it.

How do you balance cooking with school, after-school activities, and seeing friends?
I hang out with my friends at school, and sometimes they come over. I do my homework when I get home from school, then I cook!

What is your idea of a perfect meal?
Thanksgiving dinner!

Who is your favorite chef?
I like David Chang.

What cooking show do you always watch?
MasterChef

Is there a cooking technique or dish you haven’t conquered yet, but want to try?
I haven’t totally conquered the Scotch egg, which is really cool, so I want to practice making Scotch eggs.

What is your favorite restaurant in your hometown?
There’s a restaurant called East Wind. It’s a small dumpling restaurant that makes very, very good dumplings.

What do you want to do when you grow up?
I want to be a chef!

Why did you want to be on MasterChef Junior?
I cooked a lot, and my mom saw the tryouts somewhere. She asked me if I wanted to try out, so I tried.

What was the best part about being on the show?
My favorite part was all the people were so nice.

What was it like to meet Gordon Ramsay and Christina Tosi?
It was really cool because they’re celebrities.

What was it like to be selected for the top 20?
It was very stressful because there were only two aprons and four people [in each challenge]. So it just felt really good to get it.

What was most difficult or most fun about your challenge to get in the top 20?
The most difficult part was probably the stress—it was my first time cooking for Gordon Ramsay.

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masterchef junior season 5 eddieMeet MasterChef Junior Eddie

Age: 9
Hometown: Manhattan

How old were you when you first started cooking, and do you remember what your first learned to make?
I first started cooking when I was 7, and my first real dish was chicken Marsala.

How would you describe your cooking style?
I’d say my cooking is happy.

Do you have a signature dish?
Chicken Marsala.

Who inspired you to get in the kitchen?
My mom.

What do you love about cooking?
Smelling it and mixing stuff together.

What advice do you have for other kids who have an interest in learning to cook?
I would say just get in the kitchen and just start making something.

If you could eat anything in the world right now for dinner, what would it be?
Sushi

What is your favorite cuisine to cook?
Chinese

Who is your favorite chef?
Gordon Ramsay and Christina Tosi

What was getting to meet Gordon Ramsay and Christina Tosi like?
Exciting!

What cooking show do you always watch?
MasterChef Junior and Cupcake Wars

What do you want to do when you grow up?
I want to have a coach bus where I’m cooking and driving, and people get to get in there and I can drive it to different places for people to watch the sun set and eat food.

Besides cooking, what are your favorite activities or hobbies?
I like to play video games, play guitar, watch TV, and chat with my friends.

Why did you want to be on MasterChef Junior?
I wanted to show my cooking skills to the whole world on public TV.

What was the best part about being on the show?
Getting to hug Gordon Ramsay! 

What was your reaction when you found out you would be competing on the show?
I screamed and ran in circles for a long, long time.

What was it like to be selected for the top 20?
Same thing!

What was most difficult or most fun about your challenge to get in the top 20?
[When I made] the flambé in Gordon Ramsay’s face.

Did the judges offer you any advice that helped you in the first competition?
[Tips for] arranging the food on my plate

RELATED: Meet Past NY Area Contenders on MasterChef Junior

 

masterchef junior season 5 gonzaloMeet MasterChef Junior Gonzalo

Age: 11
Hometown: Queens

How old were you when you first started cooking, and do you remember what your first learned to make?
I was 5 years old when I started cooking, and I just helped my mom chop vegetables.

How would you describe your cooking style?
I see my personal cooking style as unique because nowadays a lot of restaurants are being taken over by Greek food or Italian food, and you don’t see a lot of Latino food or Latino restaurants anymore. So I like to think of myself as unique. I want to start to get more Peruvian restaurants out there. So my style is Peruvian.

Do you have a signature dish?
I love to cook Peruvian ceviche. It’s basically fish cooked in acid.

Who inspired you to get in the kitchen?
Both my mom and my grandma helped me start to learn about cooking and that’s how I found out that it was my passion. I’m very, very thankful to have both of them in my life.

What do you love about cooking?
The thing I love about cooking is the science that goes into it. I love science, and I love the whole process of what happens when water starts to boil, how the molecules start to move.  

What advice do you have for other kids who have an interest in learning to cook?
Just give it a try and go for it. If you don’t think you’re good at it, keep working on it. I know that when I first started, I didn’t think that I was good enough to try out for MasterChef Junior, but the next thing I know, I start practicing, I get my skills up, and I made it. So to any kid who wants to get into cooking, I say do it. There’s no point in not trying.

Who is your favorite chef?
My favorite chef is Gordon Ramsay. From when I was little, he was one of my biggest inspirations, as well as Michael Simon.

What was it like to finally meet Gordon Ramsay, who is one of your favorite chefs?
I think you can just imagine. My mind just went, whhhhaaaat?

What cooking show do you always watch?
I like to watch Hell’s Kitchen as well as The Chew, which has Michael Simon in it. I also like to watch Iron Chef, which consists of a bunch of great chefs. And that show has inspired me, as well as Cutthroat Kitchen with Alton Brown.

Is there a cooking technique or dish you haven’t conquered yet, but want to try?
French macarons are something that I’ve always been tripping on. I’ve been working on it and trying to get better at it.

What is your favorite restaurant in your hometown?
There’s a Greek restaurant nearby that’s called Kalamaki and they have amazing Greek food, and when you go there you can really feel the atmosphere. The people are so nice. It’s basically Greek street food, and I love street food, and I love Kalamaki because of the fact that they bring Greek into America.

Why did you wanted to try out for MasterChef Junior?
Actually, I tried out for Season 2 originally, but I never made it. So then I just started working on my skills and keeping them up for myself, and I totally forgot about the show. But then one day, my school sent out an email about auditions and all of a sudden I thought back and said, wait a minute, I tried out for this. And I told my parents, "You know what? We’re going. I’m prepared I know what I’m doing." The next thing you know, you get the call that you’re in the top 40, and you’ve made it.

What was your reaction when you found out you would be competing on the show?
I was just like screaming with joy, and my mom turned and said, “Gonzalo, are you okay? What’s going on?” And I go, “Mom, I’m in the top 40 of MasterChef Junior!”

What was it like to be selected for the top 20?
It was very, very nerve-wracking because we had to create the judge’s dish, and that's nerve-wracking because you have to create it to his liking. And the scary part is: If you’re not the first person to get your apron, there are three others [in the group who could be chosen for the last apron], and that really put the pressure on. I was very, very nervous, and all of a sudden Gordon hands me my apron and I’m like, oh my God, I can’t believe this just happened.

What was most difficult or most fun about your challenge to get in the top 20?
The fun part of it was thinking to myself, I’m re-creating Gordon Ramsay’s signature dish. That was just one of the most amazing experiences. The hardest thing for me was definitely the gastrique. It was a little acidic.

Did the judges offer you any advice that helped you in the first competition?
We each asked one question to Gordon, and Gordon helped us out telling us tips. For example, I asked him how long should the scallops stay in the pan to make sure that they’re not overcooked or undercooked. And he told me 90 seconds each side, so even those little things are very important to execute the dish. I was very happy when Gordon helped me out.

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Main image: Gordon Ramsay and Christina Tosi, hosts of MasterChef Junior on FOX, mentor the kids through cooking challenges each week.
All photos: Michael Becker / FOX. © 2017 FOX Broadcasting Co.

         

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