Take this, crappy trophy!

Congratulations to Isabella, inagural winner of Junior MasterChef. Such a gracious second from Jack (“Friends going in; friends going out”). A brilliant ending to a very inspiring series. It was one hell of a fight too! After a bit of fun with Gary & George as ‘remote-control chefs’ for the Top12 (split into two teams of 6), it was down to business – a mystery box where Isabella & Jack got to choose their key ingredient (Jack chose quail; Isabella seaf00d) judged by the usual plus Shannon Bennett, then a pressure test from MasterChef Monster Adriano Zumbo seeing the finalist cheflings deliver a plate of Zumbo’s Pear Perfection (the most amazing twist on choux pastry ever seen).

Isabella won the mystery box by 6 points (47-41, including two 10’s from Gary & Anna), however Jack won the pressure test by 3 points (53-50, including 10’s from Gary, & Anna, with 11’s from George, Shannon & Matt who all can’t count). Final score Jack 94; Isabella 97. While the judges clearly loved Jack’s dish, three judges giving him 11/10 is either entirely naff or a true indication of the dish he delivered – the jury is out and it is likely to be debated for some time. That There was no score below 10/10 for the final dish is a little over the top.

High five me, or I crush you...

A nice touch from the producers saw Adriano stalking the kitchen in the final challenge, offering tips to the competing chefs – saving Isabella at one point from a complete disaster. Having gotten used to the calibre of most chefs they’d met to day, you could see the wide-eyed awe Adriano was held in by the culinary kids. His reputation is legendary within the walls of the MasterChef kitchen – and having seen the challenge he offered the kids in the grand final, understandably so.

The result was a massive effort from both children, & completely vindicates both the more relaxed, encouraging style of the show and Channel 10’s announcement today that they will be renewing Junior MasterChef in 2011. You can hear the wanna-be cheflings sharpening their knives, practicing their techniques & honing their skills already.

Some random observations of the final episode:

  • The remote-control chef challenge was a nice bit of fun that would normally happen as a part of the final MasterClass, but helped add a very fun vibe to the start of what was to be a very intense grand final episode.
  • Relegating Anna Gare to the balcony with the other cheflings was a smart idea. It was inevitable she was a tasting judge, but it would have been nice to have Adriano taste the dish and offer his thoughts as the creator/master devil responsible. Anna also needs to shut up – the judging is not about how many times she can say “amazing”.
  • Tea-infused quail?!?! Who thinks of that???!!!
  • The chefling Top12 competitors watching from the balcony were tempted to yell at the finalists with notes from the recipe, but held back (something to note for the adult competitors, please).
  • Both Jack & Isabella looked to be entirely sincere in their support for each other, especially after the announcement of the winner. No tantrums, no pouty faces, all smiles & genuine joy.
  • While the finalists may not have made every element of Zumbo’s creation, they certainly had to make the hardest parts & put it all together. A typical mind trip creation from the kitchen of arguably Australia’s best pastry chef.
  • Completely sick of seeing the judges eat in the tasting. We know they are – do we really need to see them shove food in their gobs?
  • The light, fun atmosphere kept by the judges even through the tasting with the finalists showed why this spin-off series worked so well – so engaging.
  • 11/10?! 3 x 11/10 isn’t enough for Jack to win?!?! OUTRAGEOUS!
  • Even Isabella & Sofia’s Mum talks in reality TV sound bytes.
  • Seeing Jack tower over some of the other Top12 as he gave them high 5’s was eternally cute & awesome at the same time.
  • The announcement both Jack & Isabella’s family were going to Japan & Tokyo Disneyland drew gasps & long faces from the remaining Top9 (not including Sofia – who scores anyway as Isabella’s twin).
  • Most. Disappointing. Outcome. Ever. Great win for Isabella, but the scoring on the Zumbo challenge was completely over the top – unnecessarily.

Quite rightly the judges gushed over the food prepared by both Jack & Isabella. Shannon offering Isabella work experience at his restaurant didn’t seem like a glib promise either. Both kids were understandably excited – Isabella was not only crowned Australia’s first Junior MasterChef, she also received a  $15,000 trust fund, while Jack as runner-up received $10,000 trust fund. Not shabby by anyone’s standards. You can be sure to see both Jack, Isabella and any number of the Top12 pop up on morning television over the summer and possibly beyond (even as a guest chef in next year’s show – and if the producers are smart, even as a guest chef/judge in the 2011 adult version of MasterChef; that would send a great message to the competitors). It starts with both the finalists featuring on Channel 10’s The 7pm Project on 16/11/10.

Bring on both MasterChef and Junior MasterChef 2011…


Image/Video sources: Channel 10.