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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.
The competition is hotting up.
We've found ourselves some great cooks so far.
Who is going to take that semifinal place today?
We've got two wonderful challenges to give them that opportunity,
and I can't wait to see what they do.
First they will have to create the ultimate pizza,
and then they'll cook their own incredible menus.
Competing in today's heat are Owen, Judah, Phoebe and Anisa.
I'm more than excited, I just can't wait.
I know I can be the champion of Junior MasterChef.
I would like to get to the finals,
but even if I get halfway there, that will be amazing.
I love a challenge, and I like
eating what I'm cooking,
and making something that other people like, as well as me.
I love cooking so much.
I've been, like, thinking
all week, "Oh, my gosh, what's the first challenge going to be?"
Two tests today. First up,
they're going to cook for us their ultimate pizza.
But before that, we're going to cook up a pizza.
Are you ready for the challenge?
-Got to wash your hands.
-Let's do it!
To create the ultimate pizza,
the contestants will be given a ball of dough,
a tray for the sauce and cheese, a tray for toppings,
and one for any extras they'd like to add.
I'm going to make a really, really simple pizza.
So I'm going to just put mozzarella,
and then I'm going to make a kind of pesto without Parmesan.
That sounds absolutely lovely.
-Can you spin a pizza?
-I can try.
-That wasn't very good.
-That's doing all right, isn't it?
What are you doing?
I'm going to do a grown-up pizza, with anchovies and olives
-and chillies and mushrooms.
So my theory on pizza dough is to put the dough in, par cook it.
And I'm just going to add a little bit of water,
and the steam that's going to go in there is going to create
a really nice rise in the pizza dough.
-I'll show you, I'll show you.
-Yeah, no, you do that!
I know you're not convinced, but I'm going to show you it really works.
Now it's a waiting game.
Ooh, look at your dough! Look what's happened to it!
-That's really cool!
Well, I've got to say, Donal, I'm impressed. I've learned something.
Finally you're impressed!
-How's it looking?
Oh, yeah, like me. Mighty fine!
And I'm not even going to put it on a plate,
-I'm just going to serve it like that.
Chillies, anchovies, olives,
really big and robust.
There you go, really simple pizza.
Nice dough, really good mozzarella,
little bit of a kind of home-made pesto,
-and some salad leaves on the top.
-Oh, I think it looks great.
I cannot wait to see what these four cooks come in here
and do with this pizza challenge.
Hi, guys, welcome to Junior MasterChef.
We can't wait to see what you guys cook.
This, your first test, is to make for us your ultimate pizza.
50 minutes. Ladies and gentlemen...
wash your hands...
Remember, if you try this at home,
make sure you have a responsible adult with you.
11-year-old Owen from Leicester
had his first cooking lesson at junior school.
Now he makes so many meals for his family, he never has to wash up.
I like cooking with spices because I always like my food to have,
like, a kick to it, and I've had a lot of people try my food
and they've all said they loved it.
Owen, what do you think is the secret to a great pizza?
I love spice on my pizza,
so I'm using a lot of chilli and chilli flakes.
When you're in the kitchen and you're cooking,
who's in the kitchen with you?
My dad sometimes, but sometimes my mum.
-Who's the better cook?
What's your mum going to think of that?
She's going to ground me for a month!
-Ground you for a month! Owen, good luck with it. Enjoy.
Owen's taking a risk, he's putting chilli and chilli flakes
inside his tomato sauce.
It could be fiery hot. I hope he hasn't over-spiced it.
11-year-old Anisa is from Huddersfield,
where she loves singing and dancing with her younger brother and sister.
I cook whenever I get a chance.
It's creative, interesting, I feel confident and happy,
and I feel like I can just do anything, really.
How are you doing, Anisa?
-Are you a fan of the pizza?
-I love pizzas.
I haven't made it, but I love eating it.
Why did you come into the Junior MasterChef kitchen?
Because I like art, and art has inspired me to make food
because I can create what I want.
So presentation means a lot to you?
-Anisa, good luck.
Anisa's dough is quite thick.
I hope she puts it in the oven for long enough
and it's cooked all the way through.
25 minutes gone, 25 minutes left.
Judah is ten years old and was born in Bermuda.
Is the oil...? Yes, it's hot enough.
He's so passionate about becoming a chef,
once a week he goes to watch a real chef at work in a local restaurant.
I enjoy cooking savoury dishes.
Definitely meat and things that involve getting your hands dirty.
Why have you come to Junior MasterChef to take part?
To extend my dream to become a chef and own a restaurant.
What would you call the restaurant?
Book me in, book me in, Judah, it sounds good.
You've done something really interesting with your pizza dough?
I cut up some blue cheese and I stuffed the crust.
It sounds like you may have made a pizza before.
-Good luck, mate.
Blue cheese is quite a strong flavour, so he needs to make sure
that it doesn't overpower the other simple ingredients in this pizza.
12-year-old Phoebe from Kent has been a keen cook
since the age of five, and helps her mum make Christmas turkey,
with all the trimmings, every year.
Probably the most difficult thing I've ever tried making was pasta
without a pasta machine to roll it,
but it tastes really nice home-made.
How are you feeling about this challenge?
I'm feeling quite confident cos my grandma's Italian,
so I make pizza with her quite a lot.
What is the ultimate pizza topping for you, then?
My grandma says, "Keep it simple."
She says it's a crime to put more than,
like, one or two toppings on a pizza.
That's great. What else do you do, Phoebe, besides cook?
I quite like art, and I quite like trampolining.
So if you got a place in the Junior MasterChef semifinal,
you would be jumping for joy, then?
Yeah, it would be really fun!
Phoebe is keeping her pizza simple,
so she's doing anchovies and olives with mozzarella and tomato.
She's been taught by an Italian nonna -
we are in for some serious pizza. I am very excited.
You've got three minutes, guys.
Three minutes for a perfect pizza, please.
Last 30 seconds, guys, please plate up those pizzas.
That's it, stop cooking.
It's now judgment time.
11-year-old Anisa has topped her pizza with a spicy, herby
tomato sauce, mozzarella cheese, pineapple, mushrooms and olives.
-Yeah, I love art.
Anisa, I love the power of this pizza.
In there, you've got a load of chilli,
and it's lovely and warm and spicy.
I like the ferociousness.
I normally hate pineapple in my pizza,
but it's a sweet element in there
with lots of saltiness, so it kind of gets balanced out.
A really, really interesting pizza. Well done.
I've actually never made a pizza before,
and for my first go, I think it was really good.
Ten-year-old Judah's pizza has a blue cheese stuffed crust,
topped with a tomato sauce, mozzarella,
olives and spring onions.
Judah, love your creativity with the crust.
That is really nicely cooked.
One thing, though, the blue cheese I'm not mad about.
It's too strong for me.
-You don't like the blue cheese?
-I'm not mad about it.
-Man up, will you?
It's amazing! It's salty, it's clever, it's interesting.
I've got to say, I think that's a real success.
With my stuffed crust,
I've tried it before and it felt like all the cheese melted out
into the centre, but at the right time it had to work, which was good.
12-year-old Phoebe's pizza is topped with a tomato and herb sauce,
mozzarella, olives, anchovies and garlic,
with a garlic, olive oil and pine nut garnish.
All I can smell is the smell of Italy.
That is what I call a great pizza.
You've got a crust on the outside,
but it's still got a lovely chew to it,
the richness of your tomato sauce, the cheese is still stringy,
and if it wasn't for him, I'd be eating the whole lot.
Phoebe, this is everything I want a pizza to be,
and you've even gone to the effort of putting
-these little pine nuts around the sides.
I think your nonna would be very proud.
I'm really, really happy and excited,
cos I think I did quite well. So I'm very pleased with myself.
11-year-old Owen's cheeseless pizza
is topped with a chilli tomato sauce, mushrooms,
pepper and spring onions,
with a fried egg, asparagus, and poached tomato on the side.
It's kind of like a breakfast pizza.
You've got the egg, fried egg, on the side,
and I actually love that, because you can dunk your bits
of the pizza into the fried egg, and it is really good.
The one thing, for me, I need that stringy mozzarella on top.
Your tomato sauce is a bit of a creeper -
at first it doesn't taste like it's got very much chilli in it,
and then suddenly you get that wonderful whack
of chilli and chilli flakes.
-I think it needs some cheese.
-But I like your invention.
I think it went really well.
I think my pizza would have needed a bit of cheese on top,
from what the judges have said, but I know for next time.
You've had a great first round,
but now things are going to get really interesting.
We are going to ask you to cook
two of your favourite dishes to impress us.
You have one hour.
Your own food, two courses, one semifinal place up for grabs.
Ladies and gentlemen, let's cook.
Judah, you've got an amazing set of ingredients.
Tell us what you're going to cook for us.
Chicken roulade with a pea puree and figs.
And for my starter, parsnip soup with apple and cinnamon,
with some mushroom crumb.
Judah, there's very sophisticated flavours here,
-is this the sort of food you love to eat?
There's meat in there, there's, like, a lot of technique,
It's a good start, isn't it?
-Good a reason as any, if it's yummy.
Figs and chicken I like the idea of,
but it's the figs and the peas
with the chicken that I'm trying to understand.
Really interested about this soup,
but he has to make sure that it's nice and smooth.
I don't want a chunky parsnip soup.
Phoebe, what are you going to cook for us?
Sea bass with fondant potatoes, with peas and samphire,
and then chocolate fondants with a white chocolate orange sauce.
Oooh! Now you're talking. That's my sort of dessert.
What do you think is the most difficult part of this menu?
The fondants, and getting the sea bass skin nice and crunchy.
You're promising us crispy-skinned sea bass and...
I'm not promising.
-OK, you're hoping.
Go on, promise, promise!
I think Phoebe's playing with fire.
It's a dangerous two courses. They have to be absolutely right,
-the sea bass has got to be cooked really well.
And that chocolate fondant, oozy in the centre
and crunchy on the outside.
She's got her work cut out for her.
She's got a lot to do in one hour. Let's see how she goes.
Cooks, you are halfway. 30 minutes gone, 30 minutes left.
Anisa, loads of veg on your bench.
What are you going to cook for us?
It's spices and herbs and veg, kind of curry, but not exactly.
-Shall we call it Anisa's not-quite-a-curry?
Then white chocolate cake with raspberries and strawberries.
How do you go about inventing a dish?
My mum just puts ingredients on the table
and she tells me to cook something with it.
Her first dish, Anisa's not-quite-curry,
she's serving that with rice and peas and a little chopped salad,
which I think could be a very interesting thing.
I hope that chicken isn't too dry.
A white chocolate cake paired beautifully with raspberries.
There's a real summer, sort of, sweet taste.
Owen, you've got a simple array of ingredients on your bench.
Tell us what you're going to cook for us.
Fried halloumi with balsamic vinaigrette on a bed of rocket,
and poached salmon, asparagus, with a lemon dill sauce.
There's a lot of different styles of cooking, like grilling,
-That's my salmon.
OK, we'll leave you to it, Owen.
Asparagus and salmon, what a wonderful thing,
with a dill lemon mayonnaise.
What I do like is a courage of a cook who uses just a few ingredients.
He had a bit of an issue with his halloumi cheese to start off -
it burnt in the oven because he didn't keep an eye on it.
He's got to get this right.
Guys, you've got five minutes left. Five minutes left.
That's it, your time is up.
Owen's starter is grilled halloumi slices on a bed of rocket,
with a balsamic vinaigrette.
Great little starter. Lovely, salty elements from that halloumi cheese.
For me, though, I'd like thinner pieces of halloumi,
and just less cooking time
-so that you get a nice tender bit in the middle.
Brave dish, I think, this. I think your dressing is great.
Peppery rocket, halloumi, you can't go wrong. Very good indeed.
His main course is poached salmon on asparagus
with a lemon and dill dressing.
That fish is poached absolutely beautifully. Really impressive.
And it's a really nice and simple dish.
-You know how to make a dressing, don't you?
That lemon dressing is lovely and sharp,
-and works very, very well with that asparagus.
I tasted some of the salmon, and it was perfect.
And then I think what the judges said really boosted my confidence.
Anisa's main course is a spicy chicken and chickpea not-quite-curry
served with rice and peas, mixed salad and a honey dressing.
Anisa, you have very interesting twists and turns
throughout this whole dish, because a stew of chicken
and chickpeas and dates suddenly becomes
this almost north African heady mixture,
with honey and sweet spices.
The thing that I'm finding a little bit difficult to cope with
is rice, peas and honey.
Nice, tender pieces of chicken, and really great depth of flavours,
and then you hit it with that fresh salad on the end.
-Really, really tasty. And I love the presentation.
Her dessert is a vanilla sponge cake,
with layers of strawberries and raspberries,
drizzled with a white chocolate sauce.
That is seriously good. Really lovely and airy.
The combination of raspberry and white chocolate
-is absolutely brilliant.
Very good cake, and the addition of the liquid white chocolate
around the outside is great. I would like some whipped cream.
Anisa, you may have noticed that Donal has eaten half the cake.
Which probably means that he likes it!
The first dish, I think I should have used less honey,
but overall I'm really, really glad.
Phoebe's main course is fillet of sea bass with fondant potatoes,
peas and samphire, drizzled with a chilli oil and parsley dressing.
When you see a dish like this, Phoebe,
you have high expectation, because it looks great.
And you delivered.
Your fondants are cooked beautifully,
the chilli heat in that dressing with the herbs is wonderful,
and going very well with the fish.
Phoebe, I'd pay money in a restaurant for that dish.
-I really would.
What I love is that salty samphire, the sweet peas,
the spice from the chilli,
and then that creaminess from the fondant potatoes.
It's hard to fault this one.
For dessert, she's made chocolate fondant
with a white chocolate and orange sauce.
I think the flavours are right.
The orange, sharpness to bring the whole thing alive,
-but it's not right, is it?
Because a chocolate fondant should be a pudding capsule
with a liquid centre.
Instead of a chocolate fondant you've made a chocolate cake.
-But I like the taste,
and I like the way you've thought about this dessert.
I'm just a bit disappointed that my chocolate fondant
wasn't very runny in the middle,
but I tried my hardest, and that's all can you do, really.
For his starter, Judah has cooked an apple, cinnamon and parsnip soup,
topped with a crunchy mushroom and rosemary crumb.
Judah, I think you know that this is a little bit thick to be a soup,
but I really like the flavours you've got here.
But the next time, you need to just smooth that out
with a little bit of milk or some stock.
I think it's a very good idea.
You have parsnips, which are very, very powerful,
with sweet apples, and the addition of the pine nuts, inspired.
It just needs to be a little bit more soup-like.
His main course is chicken roulade wrapped in prosciutto ham,
with pea puree and caramelised figs.
You know what? There's something I've never tried before.
Surprisingly, it works a treat.
Your chicken is maybe just a little bit overcooked,
but the pea puree with the figs, the chicken and the ham
is a great, great combination.
You're a fascinating cook, Judah.
The caramelised figs have gone really, really dark and deep,
and really interesting flavour that it adds to the rest of the dish.
It's a surprising dish, Judah,
and that's what I like about you as a cook.
Even though there was downfalls in my dish, I was still really pleased.
I definitely think that they have a tough decision.
Some very, very interesting combinations today,
but more importantly, I think, adventurous.
Anisa's love of art shines through in her food.
Her own two dishes, very artistic indeed.
I really liked the honey with that chicken stew.
Reminded me of north African spice, with cumin in the background, but
the rice and the peas and the honey, I couldn't quite cope with it.
That dessert, oh, my word!
She knows how to make a really good cake.
I hope I can cook again,
but if not, I'm just glad I got this opportunity.
Owen takes a few ingredients and delivers them very well.
As for the poached salmon with asparagus, really well done.
It is really hard sitting here and not knowing that I'm through,
because I'd really like to know, and I'm really eager
because I think I've done well.
Phoebe's worked really hard in the kitchen today,
and I have to say that main course, of sea bass, fondant potatoes
with peas and samphire, was something pretty special.
Unfortunately, that chocolate fondant
turned into a bit of a chocolate cake.
However, she really thinks about her food, and it shows.
I've learnt quite a lot, and I've had quite a lot of fun today.
I'd like to get through to the semifinals about 100%.
Judah's first dish was a soup with a mushroom crumb.
It could have been thinner,
it should have been a soup rather than a porridge,
but interesting combination.
But who could have guessed that salty chicken, creamy peas
and caramelised figs would have worked on one plate?
Judah is a risk-taker, but delivers.
If I win or lose, that won't stop me from going towards my dream.
Four very different cooks, one semifinal place.
I've got a fairly good idea who I want.
For me, there's one standout.
I don't know if yours is the same as mine.
Thank you, all four of you, for a great day.
As you know, there is only one semifinal place.
Our semifinalist is...
The thing I enjoyed the most today is cooking and meeting new friends.
One thing I will remember is just the fun I had, really.
I've learnt a lot, and it is amazing, and it is really exciting.
I feel really proud that I've got this far,
and I can't wait for the semifinals.
Next, four more talented cooks begin their quest
to become Junior MasterChef champion, 2014.
The chilli grabs you by the ears and shoves you into the plate.
-You going to be OK?
-That's really hot.
-It is hot!