Cary’s Own Competes on MasterChef Junior: Home for the Holidays

10-year-old Cary resident, Emerson, competes on MASTERCHEF JUNIOR: Home for the Holidays. Photo Credit to FOX

Watch as Cary’s own 10-year-old culinary contestant, Emerson, whisks up some magic in the kitchen on MasterChef Junior: Home for the Holidays, airing Sunday, Dec. 10, and Monday, Dec. 11, from 8-10 p.m. on FOX (next day on Hulu). In this all-new two-night event, Chef Gordon Ramsay asks nine young competitors to cook up seasonal delights themed to Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, Lunar New Year, and more. A winner will be crowned by Ramsay; his daughter, Tilly; Aarón Sánchez; and Daphne Oz — and take home the ultimate holiday gift: a $25,000 grand prize, a Viking Kitchen package, and one-of-a-kind MasterChef snow globe trophy.

Read on to learn more about the 4th grade souper chef and his MasterChef experience — and get some Emerson-approved holiday recipes while you’re at it.

Photo credit to FOX

How long have you been cooking, and who taught you to cook?

I’ve been cooking and helping my parents in the kitchen since I was about 3 years old! I started by peeling eggs and making deviled eggs and pies during the holidays. My mom, dad, and grandparents taught me to cook. I have also taken a few cooking classes, which were tons of fun.

What do you love about being in the kitchen?

I love that cooking is an art and a science at the same time. I also love spending time with family and making people happy by sharing food experiences.  And, if I cook, I get to eat what I make!

How did you find out about the show?

A MasterChef casting director saw one of my cooking videos on Instagram and sent my mom a message. This was right after Christmas in 2022!

Photo credit to FOX

Where was the show filmed?

We filmed the show in Los Angeles, CA. I loved this because I used to live in California!

Describe Gordon Ramsay, and other hosts, in your own words!

Chef Ramsay is such a great guy! He’s funny and so nice. I liked joking around with him. Daphne and Tilly are sweet and helpful. Chef Aaron means business and he gives great cooking advice!

What was the experience like? 

I was so nervous! It’s a lot of pressure to be cooking in a professional kitchen and being judged by the best chefs in the world. The friends I made there were the most helpful. We had fun together and we all wanted each other to do well.

If you wouldn’t mind, please share your favorite holiday recipe with our readers!

Papa Julian’s Pecan Pie —  super easy and delicious! I’ve been making this with my mom for Thanksgiving ever since I can remember! It’s a family favorite from my grandfather.

Pie Crust

1.5 cups flour
1.5 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup cooking oil
2 tablespoons cold milk

Sift flour, sugar, and salt into a 9″ pie plate. Stir oil and milk until well mixed. Make a well in the center of the flour mixture. Pour in the liquid oil/milk mixture. Stir with a fork until it’s all blended and press with fingers to mold into the pie plate. Add your filling (below) to the unbaked crust.

Pecan Filling

3 eggs
1 cup Karo Syrup (dark)
1 cup sugar
2 tablespoons melted butter
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup (or more!) raw pecans

Beat eggs slightly. Stir in the rest of the ingredients and blend well. Pour into your unbaked pie shell.

Bake at 400 degrees for 15 minutes. Lower heat to 350 degrees and bake for 30-35 min until your pie filling isn’t jiggly!

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