MasterChef Junior review: Did Camp MasterChef have happy or hungry campers?


In this recap of MasterChef Junior, the kids must work together in teams to feed hungry campers. The losing team faces a baking pressure test that leads two strong contenders to go home.

This MasterChef Junior episode opens with Gordon Ramsay mounting a wooden platform to blow reveille on a trumpet. Aaron stumbles out of a cabin with epic bed hair. Cut to Christina driving a multi-colored MasterChef bus full of our contestants, all chanting, “Camp! Camp! Camp!”

They arrive at MasterChef Kids Camp, which is a real thing. With locations in Connecticut, Georgia, Texas, Illinois, and California, they offer typical camp activities like crafts and sports as well as culinary activities.

Our young cooks’ first challenge is to cook lunch for fifty-one campers. Aaron, at age ten, panics. “This is not going to be easy. We are cooking for, not normal people, but kids. What do kids like? I should know! I should know this!” This just goes to show that our contestants are not your typical kid, nor do they identify that way.

Jaala and Malia, having won the cupcake challenge last week, are our team leaders. They each get to select their team. Jaala tells us she wants strong, talented, kind kids who have been nice to her. She selects Aaron, Che, Kyle, Sadie, Brielle and Reid for her red team. Malia selects Evie, Rhashad, Ivy, Ben, Matthew and Kate for her blue team.

Both teams must serve a chicken dish using legs and thighs. The winning team will see their recipe featured in the June issue of Family Circle magazine.

MASTERCHEF JUNIOR: L-R: Contestants Ben, Malia and Kate in the “Junior Edition: Camp Masterchef” episode of MASTERCHEF airing Tuesday, April 16 (8:00-9:00 PM ET/PT) on FOX. © 2019 FOX MEDIA LLC. CR: FOX.

The red team decides to serve BBQ chicken with chipotle corn and roasted potatoes. The blue team will serve fried chicken with BBQ beans, swiss chard, and cornbread. Each plate must feature a leg and a thigh so the kids must cook 102 pieces of chicken perfectly per team, which is no small feat.

As the fifty-one campers stream in, a tie dye tidal wave per Evie, Gordon goes to check on the red team’s chicken. He immediately finds raw chicken. Jaala calls a team meeting and they decide to finish their BBQ chicken in the oven. She then pulls a mini Gordon Ramsay and yells at Reid and Che, “we need chicken NOW!”

Meanwhile, the blue team appears ready to go and begins to serve. As kids are turned away from the red team, poor Reid has a little meltdown. Christina comes over to calm him down and helps him check a tray of chicken that has been in the oven. It is ready and the red team is able to begin serving. The set up of the challenge involves all campers getting both plates and getting to pick their favorite, so it is no real problem that the red team starts serving a little late.

As Aaron checks in on the eating campers, he finds one kid who complains of raw fried chicken. He takes it back. Gordon begins to check more of the blue team’s fried chicken and finds more raw pieces. He demands that the team take off their aprons. Sweet little Matthew, aged eight, tells Gordon over and over, “no chef.” Gordon relents and tells them to get it together.

MASTERCHEF JUNIOR: L-R: Host/judge Gordon Ramsay with blue team contestants in the “Junior Edition: Camp Masterchef” episode of MASTERCHEF airing Tuesday, April 16 (8:00-9:00 PM ET/PT) on FOX. © 2019 FOX MEDIA LLC. CR: FOX.

At last, all the campers have been served. To vote, they will slide down the Slip ‘n Slide of the color of their favorite team. So they will slide on their stomachs right after eating two plates of food. Yuck. The red team is overjoyed to win, which they find out by getting sprayed with red water. While the blue team must go clean their kitchen, the red team and the judges all take a turn on the red Slip ‘n Slide.

The blue team now faces the pressure test. To announce the theme, they are rained with coconut flakes. So many fall that the kids stand in a snowbank of coconut. It stresses me to see the food waste on this show, assuming those are real coconut flakes.

The pressure test is a coconut cream pie. I am surprised to hear Christina describe it as a flaky crust, a chocolate pastry cream, coconut whipped cream, and toasted coconut flakes. As far as I’m concerned, coconut cream pie has a coconut custard. In any case, they have seventy-five minutes to make the pie from scratch including crust, pastry cream and whipped cream.

Immediately, I worry for Rhashad who has never made pastry cream before. Finding heavy cream and milk on his station, he adds both to his pastry cream but the heavy cream is for his whipped cream. Gordon corrects him but he ultimately makes his pastry cream three times.

The judging is interesting as it illustrates a variety of common baking mistakes. Matthew and Ivy have not whipped their cream enough so it doesn’t hold its shape and mars the appearance of the sliced pie. Ben, worried that his pastry will be too fragile, rolls his crust too thick. His crust is under-cooked, especially in the folds that he has left in the crust. Ben has also slightly over-whipped his cream, which can curdle the cream and eventually lead to butter.

Kate has not allowed her crust to rest. Because the gluten has not relaxed, her crust has pulled in on itself like a tight rubber band. The sides of her pie have shrunk and because it has bunched up, it is heavy and under-baked. On top of that, she does not have a good ratio of chocolate pastry cream to whipped cream so her pie is mostly whipped cream.

Evie has blind baked her crust for about eleven minutes and then cooked it again for about ten or eleven more minutes. Gordon explains that the crust needs twenty-four to twenty-five minutes to bake and recommends a twelve minute blind bake then twelve minute cook. Because of this, her pastry is under-cooked and has broken badly. She’s lost almost the entire rim of her pie. Her pastry cream is good but her cream is over-whipped.

Rhashad’s cream is also over-whipped, leading it to separate so that it leaks liquid. He has also found a pitfall not seen in the other pies. He has whisked his pastry cream too much which has over-aerated it. This has reduced its chocolate flavor.

Malia presents a pretty pie with perfectly cooked crust, smooth and flavorful pastry cream, and the perfect ratio of pastry cream to whipped cream (two thirds pastry cream and one third whipped cream). It is no surprise that she is the winner. Also safe are Ivy, Matthew, and Rhashad.

Ben, Kate and Evie stand the chance of going home but all three judges elect to save Ben. That means that poor Kate and Evie have been sent home. Both strong contenders, it just shows that one mistake can be enough to send you home. Now that we are reduced to twelve cooks in this season of MasterChef Junior, the competition will only get harder.

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Do you agree with chocolate being in a coconut cream pie? Did the right MasterChef Junior chefs get sent home this week?