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It's Junior MasterChef,
and the hunt to find the country's most exciting young cook is back on.
From thousands of applicants,
24 hopefuls have made it through to the heats.
Now judges John Torode and Donal Skehan
have to decide who will be good enough to win the title
of Junior MasterChef champion 2014.
We have four excited contestants ready to get into that kitchen
and show us what they've got.
Two tough challenges.
At the end of it, just one semifinal place.
I think it's a tough day,
but I think it's going to be a good day.
First, they'll have to create the ultimate salad
before cooking their own incredible dishes.
Competing in today's heat are Kit,
Treasure, Hugo and Mya.
I didn't start cooking until I was about four.
And then, one of my first words
I don't want to boast about myself,
but I think I'm fairly good.
I feel really confident.
I think I can go to the end.
Actually, I KNOW I can go to the end.
I'm just so excited
and I can't wait.
May the best man win.
The first test - we're going to ask them to create their ultimate salad.
It should be wonderful, alive and vibrant and exciting.
Like you, Donal.
Before they come in, you and I are going to have a go.
-Up for the challenge?
-Let's do it!
To create the ultimate salad, the contestants will be given
three trays of ingredients to choose from,
one with meat and fish,
one for the salad base,
and one with all the extras.
-Do you know what you're going to do?
-I love it.
-Do you know what you're going to do?
I'm making something which is called seared salmon and sauce verte.
So, the salmon, I'm charring it
-so it's quite dark on the outside and goes bitter.
And then, I've serving it with a herb dressing, a green sauce.
-Yeah. What are you making?
-That's a very good question.
I wanted to go towards the kind of blue cheese, pear, walnut
sort of dressing.
The turkey can be a nice bit of protein in there, as well.
Turkey, pear and blue cheese?
-I don't know if it's a good idea!
-How you doing there, young Donal?
-Feeling good, feeling good.
-It's a little bit of an unusual salad, but I'm going for it.
-Are you done?
-I kind of am.
-You always beat me.
I love it. Yum.
Ooh, look at that!
There we are. We're done.
Top marks for presentation.
-It looks beautiful!
-I didn't think that would be up your street.
-No, I love that.
-I have to say, it's really... It's vibrant to the eyes.
Well, look, we've created two very, very different salads,
so I'm so excited to see what these four cooks
come in here and cook up for us.
Let's get them in.
Hi, guys, welcome to the Junior MasterChef kitchen.
We want from you
a salad and a dressing.
We know you love to cook.
It's your chance, right now, to prove it.
You got 50 minutes.
First of all, wash your hands.
Ladies and gentlemen, let's cook.
Remember, if you try this at home,
make sure you have a responsible adult with you.
11-year-old Kit lives in Somerset with his two sisters.
He dreams of one day being head chef of his own restaurant.
Well, I first started cooking at about six or seven,
but I've found a real interest now and I kind of get a buzz out of it.
Kit, I'm really impressed.
In here, you've got some radishes and some vinegar.
Yeah. So, I'm making for you a walnut and blue cheese salad,
cos blue cheese and walnut work very well together.
-You obviously love to cook.
-What else do you love to do?
Well, I'm a vocalist in a band called The Men In Suits.
Before you leave today, could you please sign your apron for me,
so when you're really famous in a boy band,
I can actually sell it and make lots of money?
Kit's kind of gone for the same ingredients I went for -
the blue cheese, he's got the walnuts.
I like where he's going. Those flavours really work together.
11-year-old Treasure from Bristol enjoys acting and dancing,
and loves to be experimental in the kitchen.
I started loving to cook
when an incident happened with gravy maker and making tea...
..cos I was trying to make some tea for my nan,
but I kind of put gravy maker instead of sugar.
Who's been teaching you to cook, Treasure?
My nan is the one who started me off on cooking,
then my mum took me the rest of the way.
What is your nan's signature dish?
Dumplings, potato, gravy and chicken.
So, are those the sort of things we can expect from...
when you start cooking your own food, then?
THEY LAUGH You've totally thrown us now.
Treasure has beautiful halloumi,
that great salty cheese
which holds its shape when it's grilled or fried.
If it's not cooked, it's a bit soapy.
Being cooked and grilled it's lovely.
With big chunky vegetables it could be a fine thing.
You are halfway.
25 minutes gone, 25 minutes left. Halfway.
Nine-year-old Hugo lives in Chesterfield with his twin brother
and two younger brothers.
He likes to treat his family to special meals on their birthdays.
When I'm cooking it makes me feel really happy.
John's a good chef, so if he likes my food,
I could be in the big time.
Do you have a signature dish?
I think I do. It's called Hugo's chunky chilli.
Once I accidentally put a seed in and my brother bit into it.
-Was his mouth on fire?
Oh, no. So you've learnt your lesson with chillies, then?
I think Hugo's pretty close to using almost every single ingredient
on that bench, but I like it.
OK, guys, 15 minutes left.
Nine-year-old Mya is from Middlesex.
She loves football, netball and swimming,
but especially enjoys cooking.
Cooking relaxes me. I like to cook after school.
It sort of calms me down from the whole day and everything.
Mya, where does this passion for cooking come from?
I started cooking when I was about four,
and my sister taught me how to make cupcakes.
So that was really the first thing I ever made,
which is why I love cupcakes.
I'm really excited about Mya.
She is like a little steam train in the kitchen.
She's made a mayonnaise-based dressing.
She's got crispy iceberg lettuce around the outside,
bits of turkey and good-looking croutons.
Let's just hope it tastes great.
Last 60 seconds, guys.
That's it, guys. Time is up.
Please, step away from your benches.
It's now judgment time.
Hugo's ultimate salad is turkey, tomato, capers, chickpeas, walnuts
and boiled eggs
on a lettuce base with a honey and mustard dressing.
Hugo, I thought with that many ingredients,
I was going to be kind of confused when I ate into this,
but it actually eats quite well.
What I love most is that great, smoky flavour you've got on that turkey.
Strip about three or four ingredients back
and you'd have a really great, clean salad.
I like the mix of the nuts and the pulses.
I think your dressing is really nicely made.
My one issue is
the egg goes a bit sweet with the honey dressing
but, otherwise, I think you've done an all-right job, Hugo.
I'm feeling really good about the challenge.
It's given me confidence for what we're going to do in the afternoon.
Kit has also used the turkey, glazing it with honey and mustard
and, like Donal, he's added walnuts and blue cheese.
He's dressed the salad with pickled radishes and a vinaigrette.
Everything is made really well.
I'm really impressed that you pickled your own radishes.
I'm impressed that you used combinations such as blue cheese
There is, at times, clashes of...of big, bold things on the plate,
but I like your courage.
I like the radishes, but I like them kind of separate to everything else.
I'm not sure you need them here.
But, overall, a really good dish, and I think it really works.
The first challenge was just amazing. I really enjoyed it,
and I hope in the next challenge, I deliver as well as I did in that.
Next up is Treasure.
I have made a mixed vegetable salad
in the shape of a dog face.
Dog face?! SHE CHUCKLES
Oh, I can kind of see it now.
Oh, yeah. Why the dog face, Treasure?
I felt really creative with it and I really love dogs.
HE LAUGHS Fine.
Her dog-face salad is grilled halloumi cheese
on a classic cucumber, lettuce, red onion and tomato base
with a honey and mayonnaise dressing.
What I love about your salad, Treasure,
is that the ingredients speak for themselves
and it all sort of works together.
There's very little dressing on your salad
and I think maybe you could do with just a little bit more.
-I really like the halloumi
because it adds this kind of salty hit
that brings the whole thing together.
I would like it just to be cooked ever so slightly less
cos sometimes it just becomes a little bit tough.
I've shown them what I can do,
and I have made room for some improvements,
so I'm definitely proud.
Last up is Mya.
She has fried her turkey and served it on lettuce
with croutons, olives and a cheesy mayonnaise dressing.
The sauce itself is salty and rich.
You've got a good grind of pepper
across that perfectly-cooked turkey as well.
Mya, not a bad job at all, you.
I love the croutons. They're really, really crisp and crunchy.
You've got great colour on them.
The one thing I don't think you need is the olives,
but a really good salad.
I'm really pleased and I think I can really learn from that,
cos the next time I do it I can do it much better.
Now it gets really interesting.
We've seen you cook your ultimate salad,
but now you are going to cook two beautiful dishes for us
which are really going to show us what you guys are like as cooks.
Show us how good you really are. Good luck, guys.
They now need to showcase their best dishes
because, at the end, only one of them
will get through to the semifinal.
Our four cooks are down to business, and they know what they're doing.
A lot of confidence in the kitchen today.
Treasure, I've got to say, you look very, very organised.
Well, I guess I am.
And what are the two dishes you're going to make for us?
I'm going to make some ackee and saltfish quiche
and a Treasure smooth.
What's Treasure smooth?
It's a mixture of strawberries, one banana
and a little bit of garlic.
No, not garlic - ginger.
You had me scared there for a second, Treasure.
How much would you love a semifinal place?
I'm definitely going to get in the semifinals
cos I know I can do it cos I'm in the zone.
-She's in the zone!
-I like that confidence.
Treasure is cooking for us something that I've never seen before, ever,
and that is an ackee and saltfish quiche.
Ackee and saltfish I've had before.
Salted fish - very, very strong - with ackee, a fruit
traditionally from the Caribbean.
But then, Treasure's going to serve that in a quiche,
which is lined with filo pastry.
This is going to be a really interesting dish.
Mya, tell us about the dishes you're going to cook for us.
OK, I'm making sage and orange duck
with tenderstem broccoli and baby carrots.
And I'm also making a cinnamon and treacle tart.
You got a huge amount of work to do here.
Yeah, I'm doing the pastry now.
You're making the pastry as well?
You're making the pastry, doing the duck,
cooking the vegetables, making the tart filling,
-and you've got an hour to do it in?
So why are you standing around talking to us?
You'd better get a move on.
Mya is really going for it,
but I think she's way up against it with a cinnamon treacle tart.
I just hope, for her sake,
she hasn't bitten off more than she can chew.
Don't want to scare you, but 25 minutes gone,
which means 35 minutes left.
Kit, what are you going to make for us?
I'm making a calamari rellenos de pan de ajo,
which basically translates as squid with garlic bruschetta.
And then, for my dessert, I'm going to do a moreish lassi.
The lassi is a...is a drink?
-Made with what?
It's got Greek yoghurt, evaporated milk,
clementines, which I've just juiced.
-And then passion fruit?
What's the hardest part about these two dishes?
It's probably frying the squid cos they are popping
all over the place, spitting on you, and that's what I've got to do next.
He has some really interesting dishes lined up for us.
He has to get the squid right.
There is nothing worse in this world than squid that is overcooked.
And then he's doing a lassi for us,
citrus-rich, and really, really delicious.
I think it's a really brave thing to do.
Hugo, you've got some big, bright flavours here.
What are you going to make for us?
Hot butter soda bread with a smoky mackerel pate.
All the way from Ireland?
-And the other dish is?
Sicilian meatballs with Parmesan polenta.
These are really interesting dishes.
Polenta's not seen very often.
Basically, you'd expect meatballs with pasta,
but polenta is really nice and it goes really well,
so why not use that instead of boring old pasta?
-Boring old pasta.
Boring old pasta.
Hugo, quite incredible, really.
He now thinks that pasta is boring,
so he's going to serve his meatballs with polenta.
Polenta's interesting - cornmeal porridge.
If that cornmeal isn't seasoned very well,
it can just taste like wallpaper paste,
so I'm hoping that Hugo puts lots of seasoning in it.
Last two minutes, guys.
You need to start plating up, please.
That's it. Time's up.
For her main course,
Treasure has made ackee and saltfish quiche
with a lettuce and cucumber salad.
I know that it got stuck, didn't it?
-And it was looking really lovely
and then it's been sort of dug out, which is a bit of a shame.
But a really interesting creation of yours.
Just grease your pie dish next time, and the filo pastry won't get stuck.
But, put that aside, you've got some really nice, interesting things
going on on this plate,
and a really good ackee and saltfish quiche.
Treasure's dessert is a banana, strawberry and ginger smoothie.
Treasure, a really nice smoothie.
Because strawberries are quite sweet and bananas are quite sweet
you just need to hit it with some sort of tang.
And some orange juice in there would be lovely.
I think the banana and strawberry is a great combination.
With the warmth of ginger on the back of your throat,
-it's a great, great thing.
I am feeling quite good because I gave it my best shot.
Hugo's starter is smoked mackerel pate with soda bread -
a traditional Irish bread made with baking soda instead of yeast.
You got everything right in that mackerel pate.
It's smooth but it's still got the lovely smoky flavour
of that mackerel.
I think your bread could probably be cooked just a little bit longer.
It just needs another five or ten minutes in the oven.
But I'm really impressed. Very good.
You've got really nice soda bread.
I agree with John - leave it in the oven just a little bit longer.
But the mackerel pate itself is absolutely spot on.
A really, really nice starter.
His main is Sicilian meatballs and aubergine
in a tomato and sweet chilli sauce, with Parmesan polenta.
Hugo, those meatballs are absolutely gorgeous.
I love the spice, I love the fennel and, best of all,
I love that tomato sauce.
There's a real richness to it.
The one thing that I'm a little bit upset about
is the polenta is just quite overcooked, it's quite stodgy.
Instead of using water, use milk, when you cook the polenta,
and it'll be a lot creamier.
Saying that, I love the meatballs, that wonderful smokiness
coming from the aubergine.
It's a good dish.
I think I needed to bake the bread a bit longer,
but, overall, I think I did really good.
Kit's main is squid stuffed with chorizo, pork mince,
breadcrumbs and parsley,
with a tomato sauce, garlic ciabatta
and a pea shoot and gherkin salad.
What you've got is this wonderful squid
which is cooked really, really well.
And that sausage mixture with the squid is really rich.
-Maybe your tomato sauce doesn't need to be reduced quite so much...
..but I think the pea shoots on the side with the gherkins
is a lovely, lovely thing.
Mm-hm. Thank you.
The great thing about this dish is
that you have got those squid charred-up.
And the smokiness from the charring of the squid actually adds
a really nice complement to the smokiness of the paprika
-in the chorizo.
Kit's dessert is a passion fruit and clementine lassi
flavoured with cardamom.
Your lassi is really quite ferocious. It's strong.
Strong with cardamom, strong with cinnamon, sweet from the clementine,
and then the sourness of the yoghurt running through it as well.
I just don't know how I feel about drinking that
after I've ate a big load of squid sausages with tomato.
John's right. I don't think the two together work very well,
but serve that up to me on my holidays,
I would totally drink that.
I'm feeling absolutely brilliant.
Their comments were just amazing. Could not have asked for more.
Finally, it's Mya.
Her main is duck breast that has been marinated in orange,
soy sauce, sage and ginger,
with tenderstem broccoli, carrots,
new potatoes and a sauce made from the marinade.
Mya, your duck is perfectly cooked.
I like the sharp but sweet marinade on the outside of it.
It's a very accomplished dish.
The duck itself is cooked absolutely beautifully.
You've got a nice colour on the outside, crispy skin.
I really like the sauce. Overall, a very good dish.
Mya's dessert is a cinnamon treacle tart with cream.
I'm impressed with the fact that tart case
is cooked really, really well both on the top and on the bottom,
but what is great is the richness of that syrup and all the cinnamon.
It's very comforting, it's very sticky, it's very sweet.
I'm really impressed.
It is lip-smacking, it is tooth-sticking,
and the cream in there cools it all down a little bit.
A really good dessert and you should be so proud of that.
-Oh, and the pastry's good, too.
My duck was very well cooked, so I'm quite happy about that.
But my second dish, I don't know how I could improve that.
They...they really loved that.
The cooking is over and now the waiting begins.
I thought that the comments that they gave all of us
were just amazing.
I think we're all in the running.
Who will become the next semifinalist
of Junior MasterChef 2014?
I think we've got some really strong cooks.
Kit's done a really good job today.
I loved the pea shoots with the gherkin salad.
I think the squid was cooked beautifully.
Very complex, very sophisticated and well done.
On the other side, he whacked us around the head with that lassi.
He's got so many different, vibrant ingredients in there
and none of them take away from each other
and, actually, as a lassi, I would definitely try making that.
If I went home today, I'd be pretty devastated,
but happy at the same time
cos I've lived a once-in-a-lifetime experience.
Mya is an absolute dynamo in the kitchen.
She presents simple dishes done right,
and that duck was done to perfection.
Now, the dessert - absolutely gorgeous.
I think Mya's cooking today was very, very good.
I think she worked very, very hard.
And she surprises me
how much she can get done in a short period of time.
I would love to get to the semifinal.
It's very, very nerve-racking sitting here waiting.
Treasure's definitely been creative.
I think that Treasure
has a bit of work to do on her presentation, though.
Treasure's Smooth - a great name for a really nice drink.
However, I would've loved more of a tang in there.
I'm desperate to stay in the competition.
I've worked so hard for this.
Two dishes from Hugo demonstrating lots of skill.
I like the fact he's made bread and meatballs and polenta,
and I like the fact that he's seasoned his food very well.
I wasn't expecting those meatballs to taste as good as they did.
However, he needs to work on his polenta.
I want to stay about...this much in the competition.
Two great dishes from all of them,
but there is one stand-out, clear semi-finalist for me.
Thank you very much for a great day
and some very interesting combinations.
You should all be really proud.
The dishes you've cooked today
have left us with a really tough decision.
But we have made one.
And I can tell you
that our semifinalist is...
Well done, Mya.
I'm really proud of myself for getting this far.
I'm definitely going to apply next time.
It was amazing. I loved it
and I will definitely remember this.
Loads of fun. It's just been brilliant.
It's sad that I'm going out on the first round,
but the best person won.
Junior MasterChef semifinalist.
Oh, my gosh, I can't believe I've done it.
I really didn't think I'd get this far, I really didn't.
I'm very proud of what I've done today,
and I hope I can do well in the semifinals.
Mya will be back for the semifinals.
Next, four more talented cooks begin their quest
to become Junior MasterChef Champion 2014.
I've been cooking pancakes for most of my life.
Hey! That's pretty good going.