From running Michelin-starred restaurants in multiple continents to overhauling disgusting cooking environments on Kitchen Nightmares, there’s nothing I haven’t seen in the food world, and I know how important it is to approach every culinary experience with an open mind. So while it pains me to say this as the host of MasterChef Junior, I’ve got to get it off my chest.
I’m sorry, but these kid chefs freak me out.
All day long, I’ve got these 5-year-olds marching toward me with these big silver platters, only to take off the lid and unveil a braised ribeye they cooked themselves. Do you realize how weird that is? And then I’ll taste the ribeye only to discover it’s one of the best I’ve ever eaten, which is even fucking weirder. If I’m eating a steak cooked by an elementary-schooler, I should get food poisoning every single time.
When a toddler hands me a roasted lamb shank with a chilled beet vinaigrette that they made from memory, it makes my skin crawl. It’s like if a dog was talking to you. God, it gives me the heebie-jeebies just thinking about it.
Sometimes, when I walk around the MasterChef Junior kitchen, full of dozens of elementary school–aged children cooking, I just have to close my eyes and pretend I’m somewhere else, somewhere far away. A place where children don’t know how to flambé, somewhere kids play hide-and-seek or ride bicycles for fun, not season their cast-iron pans. I savor these moments before I’m forced to snap out of my daydream and reenter the living nightmare that is having an 8-year-old tell you they decided to complement their dish with a sour hollandaise and a sweet corn salsa.
Maybe from where you sit on your couch this show is fun to watch, but when I see a dozen toddlers roaming around in little chef’s hats sautéing chicken breasts, it’s like watching The Texas Chainsaw Massacre.
Put yourself in my shoes: Imagine enjoying an elegant meal at a restaurant—maybe a flavorful risotto with a well-seasoned salmon—and the chef comes out to ask how the dinner’s going. So you set down your fork, turn your head, and discover that the chef was 6-years-old this whole time. Do you understand my hell now? I wouldn’t blame you if you sprinted off to the bathroom to puke. I’ve certainly had my fair share of close calls while filming the show.
Not to mention that we’ve had six seasons of this shit. SIX! With 40 kids per season! Where the hell are all these kids coming from? At best, there should be one, maybe two kids in the whole world who can cook this good. MasterChef Junior should have only been one episode long.
But instead, the freakishly competent little cooks keep popping up all over the country, and my horrifying ordeal continues.
I understand that a lot of fans consider MasterChef Junior a fun and lighthearted distraction from everyday life, but I’m just too close to these weird tiny chefs for comfort. And while I’m happy to have this job, I’d be lying if I said it wouldn’t thrill me to learn that I never have to eat crème brûlée made by a child ever again. I hate to say it, but it’s just not right. As soon as I get the chance, I’ll be getting as far away from these freaky kid cooks as possible.