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MasterChef Junior Review: “Restaurant Takeover”

This week on MasterChef Junior, it’s my favorite style of challenge for any cooking competition: the restaurant takeover!

The kids are thrilled and they head to posh Los Angeles restaurant Drago Central to duke it out over lunch service. They’ll be cooking right next to each other in the kitchen and each team will be serving half the restaurant.

Dara and Gavin get to be team captains because of their cakes from last week, and Troy moans about being on Gavin’s team for no real reason other than his age. Which, of course, means that Troy is on Gavin’s team.

Masterchef Junior Peeps

The kids have to replicate the dishes that Drago serves rather than come up with their own. Considering how well they all did with Gordon’s beef, I think they’ll be fine here. There’s two appetizers and two entrees, and both teams have to do all four dishes: burrata salad, seared tuna with risotto cakes, short rib ravioli (with the filling already made, luckily), and seared branzini fish.

Chef Ian from Drago Central walks them through preparing all the dishes while the kids dutifully take notes. Gordon reveals that he’ll be expediting for them, which makes them nervous (as it should; they’ve probably seen a few episodes of Hell’s Kitchen).

They get 60 minutes to prep before service. Troy jumps in and barks directions at his teammates, while the red team calmly divvies up tasks and gets to work.

Service starts and the red team jumps to it, while the blue team has issues – it’s hard to tell but it seems like it’s because Troy is trying to be the boss and not let Sarah do what she can. Gordon checks one of their tuna plates and calls them out in front for a talk about inconsistency.

As they get deeper into service the red team starts to dissolve and snap at each other and Gordon calls on Dara and Alexander to work better together since Jack, who is younger, is showing them up.

The VIP order for Chef Ian’s table comes in and the kids scurry about even more. Troy doesn’t want to let Sarah do the plating for it, and she’s about one more plate away from a good cry, by the looks of her face.

The entree round starts and the red team divides up the tasks so Alexander can work by himself, in hopes of taking care of their stress. The blue team gives themselves a pep talk beforehand but even before the first fish is plated they are fighting again as Troy accuses Sarah of overseasoning the vegetables. He tosses them and re-starts the dish, causing the fish to be done first and Gordon waiting around for the plates. Do not make Gordon wait, y’all.

They make it through the service, even though both teams get called out again to work better. At the end Gordon gives them all glasses of sparkling cider to toast the service, because, dang, it’s still really impressive to do food that looks that good, especially in only 75 minutes. He has them come out to meet the diners and the kids get a standing ovation.

There’s even at least one woman crying, which I would probably do myself, just picturing my own son serving a room full of adults.

Everyone heads back to the MasterChef kitchen to decide who the winners and losers are. Red team wins! Dara, Jack, and Alexander are heading to the semifinals.

Two people have to go home from the blue team, and the one who is safe is… Troy. Um, no, I do not agree. I think between Troy’s bullying and Gavin’s lack of direction Sarah was screwed. She gets the real prize of Joe’s handkerchief, though.

Next week, the parents are back for the two-hour finale! It seems like the winner will be either Alexander or Troy, but I have my fingers crossed for Dara. What do you think?