MasterChef Junior episode review: Something to Trifle With


In this MatserChef Junior episode review, we see the top sixteen young home cooks complete in an oversized team challenge, followed by a mini elimination challenge.

As the kids enter to begin the episode, they are confronted by a huge trifle. This thing is easily the size of a small dining table that seats at least four. The judges explain the components which include sponge (cake), pudding, crushed graham cracker, mashed fruit, and whipped cream.

The kids will split into three teams of five to work together to create as many perfect, five-layer trifles as they can in twenty minutes. To divide into teams, they must dig into the giant trifle to locate small tokens in one of three colors.

Reid, from Georgia, adorably tells us he feels good about the challenge because “I’m really good at mashin’ stuff. I’m really good a crushin’ stuff. I’m really good at whuppin’ stuff.”

With much squealing, the kids all dive in. This huge trifle easily has 11-12 kids elbow deep in the cream and pudding at one time. Now, if you are paying close attention, you will recall we have sixteen cooks but five teams of five. Matthew is the lucky one this time, pulling out a golden token and a trip to the balcony.

MASTERCHEF JUNIOR: L-R: Host/judge Gordon Ramsay with judges Christina Tosi and Aarón Sanchez in the “Junior Edition: Something to Trifle With” episode of MASTERCHEF airing Tuesday, April 2 (8:00-9:00 PM ET/PT) on FOX. ©2019 Fox Broadcasting Co. Cr: Greg Gayne/FOX.

The teams shake out to be Reid, Ben Che, Evie, and Jaala for green; Aaron, Malia, Kate, Jayden, Nayeli for yellow; Kyle, Brielle, Sadie, Ivy, Rhashad for red. Each team has a set-up with five stations (one for each layer). They are also told to have an expeditor who will be responsible for quality control. With the expeditor position, that means six stations but five kids per team.

A loud warning bell sounds and a huge lever, topped with a large red ball, drops from the ceiling in a cloud of smoke. When they hear the clackety sound of the lever being pulled and the warning bell, they must switch among their team’s stations. A different alarm then sounds. When they hear this noise, it is a free-for-all where the can run to any station on their team’s table to help out.

As the kids prepare to begin the challenge, I can only worry that they all now have cream and pudding coating their shoes. Even as they listed to the instructions, they have to hold onto each other to keep from sliding to the floor.

MASTERCHEF JUNIOR: L-R: Contestants and judges in the “Junior Edition: Something to Trifle With” episode of MASTERCHEF airing Tuesday, April 2 (8:00-9:00 PM ET/PT) on FOX. ©2019 Fox Broadcasting Co. Cr: Greg Gayne/FOX.

Time begins and each team gets to work. They are given large sheet trays of cake and must cut those into rounds. They are provided with pudding, but must put it in a piping bag and pipe it. They also must crush graham crackers by hand, mash fruit (a different color to match each team color), and whip their cream.

Green team tells us their plan is to focus on communication and teamwork. Yellow team’s plan is to work as fast as possible and hope their numbers outweigh their mistakes. Red team is taking the opposite tack and plans to move slowly, trying to make each trifle perfectly.

When the free-for-all alarm sounds, the judges watch to see if a leader emerges from the chaos. On the red team, Kyle steps up as leader, telling everyone to form an assembly line. On the green team, members argue as one tries to tell the other what to do. On the yellow team, they quietly keep working with little communication.

Once time is up, each team must climb into a large, clear plastic tub which looks like it has a layer of sponge (cake) on the bottom but probably has a layer of actual sponge. Above their heads loom nozzles, ready to let loose a waterfall of pudding if they are not the winning team.

Green team pulls their rope and gets covered in pudding. They had twenty-seven acceptable trifles. Red team pulls their rope and no pudding appears. They have won with thirty-one trifles. It seems their slow but steady tactic and Kyle’s leadership has won the day. Yellow pulls their rope to get their pudding shower. They lose with thirty trifles, just one short of the other team. Gordon, not satisfied with clean-ish kids still standing, pulls the rope on the red team again.

MASTERCHEF JUNIOR: Contestants with host/judge Gordon Ramsay (R) in the “Junior Edition: Something to Trifle With” episode of MASTERCHEF airing Tuesday, April 2 (8:00-9:00 PM ET/PT) on FOX. ©2019 Fox Broadcasting Co. Cr: Greg Gayne/FOX.

Now all covered in pudding, the very slippery kids slowly make their way out to get cleaned up. Once clean, the red team heads to the balcony to enjoy trifles that Christina has made them. The bigger reward is freedom from the elimination challenge.

For the elimination, Gordon wants the kids to make something he considers a favorite of his and tells them he has a whole restaurant dedicated to this item. He explains they will make three sliders. The sliders will be identical (ideally), but he starts by demonstrating how to make three different sliders.

He creates a tuna, a beef, and a portabella mushroom slider. For all three, he uses a very hot grill to achieve browning on the outside without overcooking the inside. For the tuna, he uses an egg wash before dipping in sesame seeds. For the mushroom, he first marinates it. Once on the grill, the mushroom also gets manchego cheese and roasted red pepper.

His beef burger is assembled with mustard aioli, tomato, lettuce, bacon, and caramelized onions. His tuna burger includes a slaw and marinated cucumber. The mushroom gets finished with a romesco sauce and arugula.

The only drama that occurs during cooking time for the kids is when Jayden describes his dish to Gordon. Jayden is making a turkey slider with grilled pineapple and sweet thai chili mayonnaise. Gordon Ramsay famously hates pineapple on pizza, so you can imagine his reaction to a pineapple slider.

When he asks Jayden where he has seen this combo before, Jayden tells him nowhere and tries to explain that he came up with the idea. Gordon interrupts, “That’s why. Stop there. That’s why. A pineapple turkey burger nightmare, because we don’t do it!” Jayden is undeterred and continues with his plan which Gordon explains is “wrong from top to bottom.”

Time is up and Ben is first to present. Ben’s food dream is “Ocean Café” which will be on the ocean in either France or Florida. He presents an oyster fried in potato chip crust as his slider with coleslaw and mayonnaise. Gordon loves it, citing flavor, creativity, and restaurant quality cooking.

Che presents a crab cake slider with avocado spread and garlic chive aioli. He has never made a crab cake before but has gone crabbing with his family. I am suspicious of his slider patties. Having lived in Maryland, I am used to uneven cakes with lumps of crab protruding. His cakes are perfectly smooth and uniform. Che admits that he put his crab in the mixer with his filler and blended it! Aaron finds the patty dry and the kind of seafood indistinguishable now that it has been turned to mash.

Nayeli tearfully brings up her offering. She is heartbroken that her meat patty has seized up into a small meatball. Her beef slider with brie, caramelized onions, and arugula sounds tasty, but her meat is over-cooked and tough.

MASTERCHEF JUNIOR: Contestant Nayeli in the “Junior Edition: Something to Trifle With” episode of MASTERCHEF airing Tuesday, April 2 (8:00-9:00 PM ET/PT) on FOX. ©2019 Fox Broadcasting Co. Cr: Greg Gayne/FOX.

Malia’s lime shrimp sliders with slaw and lime aioli have good flavor, but she didn’t use enough shrimp. Reid’s Southern state beef slider with secret sauce and bacon, on the other hand, is basically the size of a McDonald’s burger. Regardless, the flavor is good.

Aaron’s beef with tomato, cheese, and mayonnaise sounds a little uninspired to me, but the judges enjoy his sliders. Jayden is not so lucky. If Gordon Ramsay clearly disapproves of your concept, you might want to rethink it.

Jayden’s first problem is that he felt his patties were too big so he cut them down, leaving them looking like they were chewed by a dog, per Christina. While she does not seem to have Gordon’s aversion to pineapple on savory things, she does have an issue with his turkey burger being borderline raw and relatively flavorless.

Evie presents last and she only has two sliders on her plate! She simply ran out of time. She hopes her cheddar cheese stuffed burgers with caramelized onions and candied bacon will be tasty enough to help the judges overlook her missing burger. Gordon samples her burger and tells her, “I’m going to take that burger with that cheese in there and develop something exciting based on your creation. And if it works, you can have a royalty.” High praise indeed!

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Had she had all three sliders, she may have won, but Ben is declared winner. In danger are Jayden, Nayeli, and Che. Sadly, Jayden’s pineapple turkey burger and Nayeli’s overcooked meatball have sent them home. And just like that, we are down to fourteen kid cooks.