WATCH: The 13 Most Adorable Moments of MasterChef Junior


Ah, MasterChef Junior. The PG-rated, clean version of the debauchery that is MasterChef: Gordon Ramsay Yells In Your Face, Graham Elliot’s Look of Disappointment Will Haunt You More than Your Own Parents’ Look of Disappointment, and Joe Bastianich Spits Out Your Food While Glaring Into Your Soul. (Too long of a working title?)

Already, commenters are saying that they miss Ramsay et al.’s “bitchery” on the real MasterChef. That clearly, the three chefs are being way too sweet to our pint-sized chefs. To which I say, phooey. Let another authority figure stomp and crush on their dreams, as we all inevitably face at some point in our lives. An 8-year old does not need to be defeated by a celebrity chef just yet.

Besides, the premiere of MasterChef Junior was full of wide eyes, big dreams, big bows (share your fashion secrets, Dara!), and bigger dishes. Speaking as a 26-year old who may never know how to make pistachio macarons, bake tortillas from scratch, and bust out a homemade pasta in less than an hour, these kids got game. And you know, adorableness.

The 13 most adorable moments of MasterChef Junior, in consecutive order (as to not rank the adorableness of the kids, because they’re all adorable):

1. Sarah, age 9, declaring first thing on the spot that she wants to be a food critic. Adorable. Job aspirations at nine years old usually involve something along the astronaut, POTUS, reality TV stardom (kidding! Or am I? Who knows what kids aspire to these days) lines, but instead she wants to be a moderately paid, moderately famous food critic. I didn’t even know what a food critic was at age 9 — well done, foodies of America. You’ve corrupted ’em young.

2. Unknown child squealing “That’s squid!” when the seafood bonanza was revealed for the first cooking challenge. Why, yes it is. (I had no idea what squid looked like as a child. In fact, I still probably wouldn’t recognize it now.)

3. Twelve-year old Brooklynite Sofia talking to herself in the pantry: “Where the hell are the pomegranates…” while searching for truffle oil and duck hearts, too. Fantastic mouth on you, child. Even your glasses are cooler than mine.

4. Bastianich commenting on Jack’s “poker shirt.” Yep, Hawaiian shirts do basically equate a child under the age of 10 with an 80-year old.

5. Elliot’s compliment to Roen, age 12, for his “super special, ninja sushi skills.” “I don’t know if I could do this,” he said.

6. Bastianich’s proposal to Joe to open up a restaurant: Joe’s and Jack’s. Jack turns down Joe. Dude, you will kick yourself 10 years from now. Say yes. Always. He will make you a star.

7. OMG, Franco. Look at that face, so serious and worried coming up to chef Ramsay. Even though Ramsay says the seared scallops are a little rubbery, Ramsay lays on the compliments. “If you were my son, I’d be incredibly proud of that dish.” And the hug to his mom after being told he was going home. Let it out, Franco. Indulge in a little home-cooked comfort food and put that apron back on, with pride.

8. Sofia’s hot pink Doc Martens. I had bright yellow ones years ago. That I looked terrible in. Also noted: Dara and Sara’s hair bows in the next age group, and Jayden’s whole ensemble in the third age group. When did tweens get so stylish, you guyz??

9. YES, Ramsay tries on Dara’s bow. Let’s be real, Dara is a star already. Girlfriend has Bastianich’s stare down pat. I want to watch her on MasterChef for real.

10. Tommy’s heartbreak when Jewels says she’s “not feeling it.” Ramsay, read the room. Not the time to be matchmaking when there’s a clock ticking on a kitchen challenge. And Jewels is right: no boyfriend should ever be equated to mustard. Ketchup. Aioli. Ranch dressing, for crying out loud. A boyfriend is someone (or something) you LOVE AND CAN’T GET ENOUGH OF, not “put on the side.” Food is love, Ramsay. (Also, Tommy nailed the dish, so he’ll be getting girls soon enough with those skillz.)

11. OMG TEARS. Dara, it’s OK! Graham Elliot is the perfect man for the job of consoling Dara. I want a hug from Elliot from now on when I’m crying, happy tears or sad tears.

12. Sarah and Nathan, total hams of the third group. Give them their own show, please. “Some of the equipment is bigger than me.” “Andele andele!” — Nathan. And splits when the time is up! Way to go, dude. And of course, this interaction between Sara and Ramsay, especially when asked whether guys or girls made better chefs.

13. Nathan’s heartbreak when he didn’t make it. It’s OK, little man. Bastianich will put in a good word for you some day.

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