MasterChef Junior Season 9 episode 1: Seasoning the dish with emotions

MasterChef Junior Season 9 episode 1
MasterChef Junior Season 9 episode 1 / FOX

With a new group of young chefs ready to showcase their culinary talents, MasterChef Junior Season 9 episode 1 is all about the connection to food. With emoji cookies inspiring the sentiment for their dishes, these young chefs are basking in some sweet compliments from the judges.

MasterChef Junior Season 9 kicks off with a change. Tilly Ramsay joins her father, Gordon Ramsay and judges Aaron Sanchez as well as Daphne Oz. By adding Tilly, there is a new vibe to the show. Not only can she banter with her father, she offers a different perspective to the feedback. As seen in the first episode, she is very encouraging and positive to the young chefs. But, she can give it right back to her father.

As the judges interacted with all the young chefs, their passion for food and cooking is clear. More importantly, they have a tremendous amount of experience in the kitchen. From cooking side by side with their families to exploring cooking on their own, their culinary careers are off to a great start.

For the first challenge, each young chef received an emoji cookie which needed to be the theme for their first dish. In addition, it should reference a family connection. The cookie might have been a good visual, but more importantly it serves as a bigger reminder for anyone who is watching MasterChef Junior. Having a connection to the food on the plate will always make it taste better. From the recipe passed down from grandma to the love of mashed potatoes, people will taste that sentiment in each forkful.

Overall, the dishes were quite good. Many older chefs would dream of being able to execute these dishes. It goes to show that great cooking can happen at any age.

The three top dishes were from Remy, Michael, and Bryson. Remy captured the sunshine happy vibes in her Sunshine State chicken thighs with mashed potatoes. It definitely delivered the flavor. From the luscious texture of the mashed potatoes to the crisp skin on the chicken thighs, it is clear that she understands how to execute a dish.

Michael stuck to a protein that he knows well, shrimp. In addition to the well-seasoned shrimp, he found the balance in the flavors. There was just the right amount of sauce with the pasta. It was bright, light, and refreshing against the bold flavors on the shrimp.

Lastly, Bryson showcased his meat cooking ability.  Cooking a ribcap to a perfect medium rare is not easy. That tower of meat showed that he was cooking with confidence.

Winning the first challenge on MasterChef Junior Season 9 episode 1 was Bryson. While his nickname might be Cheese Curd, he did more than squeak out a victory. Bryson will be one to watch on this season.

Unfortunately, the bottom chefs had major execution issues in this emoji challenge. The three bottom chefs were Lilo, Miles, and Bre.

Bre, aka the Burger Queen, had some difficulty with her burger. Since she started cooking it too early, the meat began to crumble, which is a sign of over cooking. In addition, her potatoes were undercooked. She should have cut them thinner to ensure that they would be cooked all the way.

Lilo had the most visually impressive plate. The “flying” noodles is a trick that other chefs might want to borrow. Unfortunately, her beef was inconsistent. Some pieces were overcooked and others were raw. A great visual cannot hide poor execution.

Lastly, Miles took the emoji cookie theme too literally. The smile-plated scallops were too juvenile. Even though it is MasterChef Junior, these plates cannot be a gimmick. But, he cooked his scallops well, which was a highlight of the dish.

The first chef eliminated on MasterChef Junior Season 9 episode 1 was Bre. The two cooking mistakes on the plate caused her to fail.

Based on the first episode, it seems that MasterChef Junior Season 9 is going to be a competitive season. These young chefs can cook as well as people double their age. It will be interesting to see how they can elevate the creativity level.

Also, Tilly Ramsay’s role as a new judge seems to spice up the judging table. It allows Gordon to be a little more blunt, but never too harsh. Having all the different perspectives makes this season even more appealing to families who watch together.

Be sure to watch MasterChef Junior Season 9 on FOX every Monday night at 8 p.m. ET/PT. Episodes can be streamed the next day on Hulu.