"I don't love children. Or cooking. But this week, I found myself watching Junior MasterChef."

It's 2020, and at the top of the list of things I didn't expect to happen this year — okay, maybe first place goes to the pandemic — was that I would become a fan of Junior MasterChef.

To put it kindly, I don't love kids. I don't understand them. They're small and they make silly comments and I just have very little patience.

Which ties in to my next point. Cooking is also not a favourite pastime of mine (see: patience comment), and the cleanup? Just not for me.

Watch the trailer for Junior Masterchef. Post continues below.

Video via Network 10

Hence why I've never indulged in MasterChef before, and why — despite all my co-workers' ravings — I was reluctant to start now.

Yet last Sunday The Project came to an end, and I'd already binge-watched Emily in Paris, so I allowed Junior MasterChef to run in the background for a few minutes.

Only it didn't just run in the background...

In came the 14 best young chefs in the country, and within minutes I found myself crying at these little aspirational food wizards whose parents Just. Must. Be. So. Proud. 

And can we talk about the judges, Melissa Leong, Jock Zonfrillo and Andy Allen? Just divine. 

So, to begin, the 10-14-year-olds were asked to cook the judges their signature dish. 

Easy enough start.

My signature dish is mince meat and a jar of bolognese pasta sauce thrown onto some Barilla spaghetti no.3, which I cook to al dente in just five minutes (but usually four, because I leave my cooking 'til the last minute and get a 'lil hangry).

Among the signature dishes of our MasterChefs though, were lobster mornay (which one 12-year-old apparently eats several times a week??), spiced chocolate tart with cardamom ginger ice cream (I'm not familiar with at least one of those ingredients), and pumpkin and ricotta tortellini with a burnt butter and sage sauce.

Oh. And this, which I would pay an absurd amount of money for. 


It was both magical, and somewhat demoralising. Honestly, the thought of making my own pasta sauce from scratch astounds me.

A highlight from this episode, was the moment young Dev presented the most delicious looking Indian feast to the judges, and they asked him to bring over a framed photo of his family who would have been so proud of him representing his culture as well as he did. 

I cried a second time (or maybe it was my fifth. I don't know; I wasn't keeping count).

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Nothing like a family dinner 🧡 #JrMasterChefAU

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He and Laura won the first challenge, giving them a chance to strike the immunity gong (that's a thing apparently) in any elimination challenge they choose in order to avoid going home.

At this point I was hooked. I was rooting for every single contestant — especially Ben.

And that's when it hit me. Three of these kids would be heading home later in the week. 

CRUEL. One of Junior MasterChef'only flaws.

On Monday, the chefs received their first mystery box, and we got to see more of Ben, which was welcome. And always will be.

In this episode, yet more tears when Ruby helped her friend Georgia roast her pistachios in the final minutes of the challenge.

"Ruby's been so nice to me this cook and I'm so happy. I hope she does well as well," Georgia said. And I lost it.

We need more of this. 


Before we knew it, it was Tuesday and elimination time. 

I mentally prepared myself. I didn't know if I could bear to see the kids cry — their happiness is too much for me to handle. 

But Ben kept me laughing.

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Priorities ✅ #JrMasterChefAU #MasterChefAU

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And when it came down to the elimination, I was so proud of these small people who were cooking their little hearts out, and I knew they had nothing to worry about. 

I mean. Look at Tiffany's authentic Hungarian feast:



When it came down to it, Ryan, Etka and Porsha were sent home, and they took it like champs, proving once again that they are better than me in every single way.

So, it's safe to say I'm a convert. 

2020 has been weird. So I suppose it shouldn't be a surprise that I'm now transporting myself out of it three nights a week by watching tiny, wholesome child cooks. Heaven.

Thank you, Junior MasterChef.

Feature Image: Ten.