Bear Branch Elementary students probably don’t even realize they have a culinary mastermind walking their halls. Fourth-grader Avery Meadows, 9, has been named a Top 40 finalist for season six of the television show “Master Chef Junior.” The show premiered Friday, March 2 on Fox at 7 p.m.
Meadows said she has always liked the show and dreamed of being a contestant when she was 7, but her mom told her she was still too young. The show conducts a nationwide search for the best young home cooks between ages 8 and 13. Meadows kept watching, and on her eighth birthday, the only present she wanted was to have a chance at being on “Masterchef Junior.”
So Meadows applied online and was invited to do a cooking demonstration at an audition in downtown Houston.
“We had to measure a cup of water, chop celery, and cook an egg,” Meadow said. She did exactly that, and later that day, she got a call that her audition had been successful.
Meadow said says she remembers exactly what she was doing when she heard the news – she was at her sister’s friend’s house and she was so excited. Meadows proceeded through the audition process, and one night, during family dinner, they got the call that Meadows had been named a Top 40 finalist, which she described as “pretty cool.”
“I just started screaming and bouncing off the wall! We had already eaten dinner, so we went to my favorite restaurant, Sharky’s, the next night to celebrate,” Meadows said. “I’m sad that Sharky’s flooded but I hope they’ll be open again in a few weeks!”
The show involves a culinary competition among kids and features award-winning chefs Gordon Ramsay and Christina Tosi and judge Joe Bastianich. One talented kid will be named America’s next Masterchef Junior to take home the $100,000 grand prize.
Meadows explained that the competition was fun but definitely competitive. “I just always remembered to be myself and to believe in myself,” she said.
Cooking runs in the Meadows family. Mom Christina owns Sweet Meadows Bakery, and says that Avery has always been a self-starter.
“When she wants to do something new, she is just self-taught. We think she’s amazing and we’re really proud of her,” Christina gushed.
Avery said the experience has inspired her to one day pursue a career that “involves food but also involves helping people,” like being a food chemist or food engineer.
The premiere episode was filmed a while back in Los Angeles, but the family hasn’t been able to divulge anything about it. Avery says it has been hard not to tell people about the experience. The culinary competitions involved things like a mystery box challenge with 26 ingredients, each representing a different letter of the alphabet. For one competition, the kids had to cook a dish that represented their family heritage, and even got to prepare meals for a wedding couple and their guests.
The family planned a Friday watch party with Avery’s grandparents flying in to cheer her on.
Finally, Avery will be able to divulge all her MasterChef secrets once and for all. So far, Avery has been pretty tight-lipped about her recipes, but one definitely involved bacon. Don’t all winning recipes?