Award-winning chef Aarón Sánchez will return to the judging panel for Season 8 of “MasterChef Junior” alongside renowned chef and TV personality Gordon Ramsay and Emmy-winning newcomer Daphne Oz. Sánchez describes the upcoming season as “amazing and baffling.”
The reality TV cooking competition gives talented kids between the ages of eight and 13 the chance to showcase their culinary abilities. “MasterChef Junior” premieres Thursday, March 17 at 8/7c on Fox. Watch the exclusive video interview with Sánchez above.
“I have an 11-year old so I’m actually living their age group,” Sánchez explains. “Their vocabulary and their interest in food is genuine. The fact that we have supermom Daphne Oz showing up, who’s pregnant during the filming, who is this amazing mom and brings this beautiful background of her point of view with food, was such a beautiful addition. This season in particular, with Daphne’s addition, has made it so unique. It’s softened up some of the boy-macho dad stuff.”
Sánchez also admits to being “fascinated” by Ramsay, his colleague of several years. “I think he’s one of the most dynamic people I’ve ever met in my life,” Sánchez explains. “He’s extremely hard-working and has such a passion and drive for what he does. There are very few chefs that can back it up in the restaurant world and in the TV world and he does that. I definitely have an admiration and, frankly, look up to him.”
The cookbook author and owner of Johnny Sánchez restaurant in New Orleans says the key to success in “MasterChef Junior” is the ability to take direction. “We always say on ‘MasterChef,’ it’s not how you start it’s how you finish,” he asserts. “A big part of the whole riddle with ‘MasterChef’ is figuring out how to be a good student and taking queues. The kids that end up doing that go far in the competition.”
“I don’t know if I would have excelled,” he admits when asked if his younger self would have entered this contest. “At that time I was very incorrigible and I was not a very good listener. I don’t know if I would have taken direction well. As I got in my teenage years I was forced to listen and thankfully my mentors and people that shifted my behavior came through the kitchen. I don’t know, if at that age, I would have been very good.”
There is one thing we won’t get to see on “MasterChef Junior” that Sánchez would like to make happen eventually. “I would love to take on Gordon, to be honest,” he says with confidence. “I think I could kick his ass. I’m saying it now. He is such a competitive guy, I know he would relish the opportunity. Hopefully down the road we can do that and just have fun with it.”
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