Lessons From…MasterChef Junior

So, normally I am not a fan of reality television, but there are a few exceptions. I like shows that have participants with some level of skill or talent. You can keep the dumb, loud, obnoxious, drunken fools as long as there are the occasional aspiring musicians and chefs competing against one another. MasterChef is one of the reality shows that I actually like, so when I heard of a similar setup involving children I had to tune in. I was pleasantly surprised and not at all disappointed. Thus, this week’s lesson analysis comes courtesy of MasterChef Junior.

These men make grown adults cry and are still allowed near children.

These men make grown adults cry and are still allowed near children.

No SPOILERS warning for this one since it is not narrative based and frankly if you want to watch the show just do so; I’m not going to ruin anything. The show runs on the same premise as the original with the exception of having children aged 9 to 13 as the contestants.

These kids have better palettes and cooking skills than I can dream of.

These kids have better palettes and cooking skills than I can dream of.

While the show is competitive in nature, there are two elements that I find the Junior version contain that the original lacks. These two elements also happen to be the basis of this week’s lessons. I know, what are the odds?

One thing is common between the MasterChef and MasterChef Junior contestants; they are all very passionate about cooking. This makes both sets of contestants seek out new recipes and try to make complicated dishes. The difference is that the competitive nature of the show makes the older contestants mitigate their risks to still try to win whereas the younger contestants just try to make good food regardless of the risks because they literally do not know any better.

Obviously, they are aware of when they have made a mistake, but the possibility of error and loss is not a deterrent for them. They are merely grateful and joyous for the opportunity to pursue their passion. This brings us to the first lesson: Try your best to pursue your passions with a childlike wonder and innocence. Allow yourself to learn and take risks and be content with the simple act of being able to do what you desire.

Unsurprisingly, this sort of leads into the other takeaway lesson from this show and the major difference between the original and Junior versions. In both shows, there is a judgment portion in which the dishes of the contestants are critiqued by the three hosts/judges. Now, to be fair, the judging portion for the Junior version is far nicer since the judges do not want to come off as assholes, but even so there is a discernible difference in the reception of the critiques.

Because of the competition aspect and the power of the human ego, most of the adult contestants attempt to explain or make excuses for their mistakes even up to the point of arguing with the judges.

Yeah, they seem like a reasonable bunch.

Yeah, they seem like a reasonable bunch.

On the other hand, the adolescent participants simply pay attention to the critiques and legitimately try to learn from them. The children have no fragile ego they are trying to protect. They know they made mistakes and can do better, so they listen and soak up the advice they are given without hesitation. We all could learn from their example: Set your ego aside and be fully present and open to criticism. It is the only way to learn and improve.

Thus endeth today’s lessons.

One last note, how the hell does a twelve year old cook a perfect, succulent rack of lamb and a pasta I have never even heard of when I have trouble making macaroni and cheese from the box?

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