On 'Master Chef Junior,' 2 Local Kids Shine Under Reality Show Pressure

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Lila DeLuca, of Rockport, and Sam Brock, of Concord, contestants on this season’s "Master Chef Junior." (Robin Lubbock/WBUR)
Lila DeLuca, of Rockport, and Sam Brock, of Concord, contestants on this season’s "Master Chef Junior." (Robin Lubbock/WBUR)

Cooking a fancy meal and getting it on the table in a reasonable amount of time can be a challenge even for the most experienced cooks.

But there's a group of chefs that has to prepare gourmet dishes in a matter of minutes — under the glare of lights, television cameras, and the discerning eye of celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay.

And these cooks are only 8 to 13 years old.

The show is "Master Chef Junior" on Fox. We wondered what it's like for kids to be under that kind of pressure — cooking meals on tight deadline with no recipes, and with the chance of elimination from a national reality TV show hanging over them.

Two of the contestants on this season's "Master Chef Junior" are from Massachusetts. They are Lila DeLuca, of Rockport, and Sam Brock, of Concord, both of whom are 10 years old.

Sam and Lila spoke with WBUR's All Things Considered host Lisa Mullins about the experience.

Interview Highlights

On how they got started cooking:

Sam Brock: Well, one of the reasons that I started cooking is because I like to eat! It's good! And a lot of my inspiration from food comes from my family. My dad was in the Army. He's from Alabama, so I cook a lot of southern food at my house. I make a lot of desserts. I like to bake. I love cooking on the grill.

Lisa Mullins: You're a grill master.

Sam Brock: Not as good as Gordon Ramsay, but kind of!

Lila DeLuca: I learned from watching cooking shows ... and I live right near the ocean, and in the summer me and my dad go fishing, and we catch fish, and I like to cook fish a lot.

Explaining "sauce vierge":

Lila DeLuca: It's like a vinaigrette with tomatoes.

Sam Brock: It's a vinaigrette but a lot more chunky, kind of.

Lisa Mullins: How do you guys know that and I don't?

Lila DeLuca: We just know!


Sam Brock: Because we're junior chefs!

Lila DeLuca: We're on "Master Chef Junior." There's a reason why we're on "Master Chef Junior!"

Sam Brock: It's what we do for a living!

On the intense nature of the reality cooking show:

Sam Brock: You just described pressure. Look it up in a dictionary: "Master Chef Junior," under "pressure."

Lisa Mullins: And how did you deal with the pressure?

Sam Brock: I think a lot of it was maybe just getting some fresh air ... because if you're too stressed out, you're going to overthink things, and then you're going to burn something. It's tough. It's just really tough.

Lila DeLuca: I learned that you have to keep calm in the "Master Chef" kitchen, and I learned if you just focus 100 percent on your dish, that it will turn out pretty good.

Lisa Mullins: You could block everything else out, like all the commotion going on?

Lila DeLuca: Yes. Because there's usually people who either burn [themselves] or cut [themselves] or sometimes people would be watching other people and then miss a step, or they would not hear, like, a timer or something. Just one little step like that can ruin your whole dish.

This segment aired on March 8, 2017.

Headshot of Lisa Mullins

Lisa Mullins Host, All Things Considered
Lisa Mullins is the voice of WBUR’s All Things Considered. She anchors the program, conducts interviews and reports from the field.


Headshot of Lynn Jolicoeur

Lynn Jolicoeur Producer/Reporter
Lynn Jolicoeur is the field producer for WBUR's All Things Considered. She also reports for the station's various local news broadcasts.



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