MasterChef Junior (MCJ) on Fox has riveted our household the last few weeks. Watching other kids cook has inspired our IttyBittyFoodies to stretch themselves in the kitchen and more so when one of the contestants, Riley is a classmate. The eight year old was MCJ’s youngest contestant ever and put up a good fight till episode 4 when he was eliminated. Riley didn’t win MCJ but he won over hearts, including that of infamously fiery tough judge and Michelin starred chef, Gordon Ramsay‘s. In episode 4, Ramsay called Riley, his favorite chef.
Last week at a play date with Riley, we got the scoop on his culinary brush with fame. Riley has never had cooking lessons before. He started cooking around 3 years old making his own lunch and just hanging out in the kitchen with his mom, Jennifer. When asked if it made him nervous to compete with kids up to five years older than him. He said no and that they were really friendly. Tiny in height and big on sweetness, it was endearing to see other contestants help him carry a mixer or lift up a box in this otherwise cut throat competition where time was off the essence.
“My favorite challenge was the sushi one. I’ve never made sushi before”, says Riley. This was when the tiny chef was paired with the biggest contestant, MCJ’s grand finalist, Andrew. The pair worked well together, encouraging each other throughout the whole challenge. But that’s the way Riley is. He’s earnest and genuine.
But it wasn’t all cooking during the show, there were also tons of fun moments to like the opportunity to throw pies in the judges faces. Riley picked Gordon Ramsay. “I was really happy and it was really fun!” Riley laughed as he recounted having to stand on a small ladder to even reach up to Gordon Ramsay.
At home, Riley likes making pasta from scratch. He fared pretty well in the first challenge which was making pappardelle. His mom, Jennifer has many fond memories of cooking with her own father especially pasta and she wanted to pass that to Riley.
His favorite restaurant in Dallas is Abacus where he got to go behind the scenes with Kent Rathbun recently. Since filming MCJ, local restaurants have given Riley the star treatment and he’s visited all the big names like Fearing’s and The French Room. But on a regular day, he loves to go to Brother’s Pizza a small local place in Carrollton.
Like any other 9 year old, he just likes to play, hang out with his dogs and read history books on weekends. When asked what he wanted to be when he grew up, Riley said he hadn’t figured that out yet. “There’s a lot of stuff but I haven’t chosen one. Maybe a chef. Or play sports like basketball, soccer, baseball or football.” And with that, he was off to play Legos and hide and seek with my IttyBittyFoodies.
Good luck whatever you choose, Riley! Find Little Chef Riley on his Facebook page.
Till our next Happy Meal!
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