MASTERCHEF JUNIOR’s Nathan talks Season 3, French pastries, and world-wide pastry domination
Today’s second chef-chat is with MASTERCHEF JUNIOR’s Nathan, the wise beyond his years chef famous for the perfect macarons from a few weeks back. We talked about what he’s making now and what the future holds! Check it out!
I’m am so jealous of a person who can put macarons together in an hour! I read a recipe once and got so flustered I didn’t even try it!
The time crunch was definitely really crazy!
Thinking of something like that that is so technical and you have limited time, was there a moment where you thought “I’m not going to do this” or once you made up your mind, you went full steam ahead?
I kind of just jumped right in! And since I’d made them so many times before at home, I felt like I could probably get them done in the amount of time that we had.
And of course it paid off – they looked amazing! Talk a little bit about how you got into cooking and where your love for being a chef comes from?
I think cooking really started for me probably around 5th because my school had a cooking program, just a new small thing, with one of the local chefs named Chef Riccardo, but it was after that program that I really started learning that I liked to cook and enjoyed pairing flavors together.
Do you have a favorite recipe that you cook now that if you could cook that forever, you’d be happy?
I would say at the moment, it’s really tough because I have so many. I’d say my favorite recipe to make lately is madeleines.
Another difficult, technical cookie – for you, does it come second nature? Do you look at a recipe and think, okay, that looks easy?
I would the process really starts out with really reading the recipe over a few times, because that’s really how you learn to memorize the components, and about the basic measurements. All from there – flavoring and adding your own touch to it, I kind of have that second nature.
Is there a cuisine that you tend to gravitate towards – we obviously talked about macarons and madeleines – is there one you could see yourself following?
I really have an affinity for French pastries and a lot of French food, but lately I’ve been really leaning towards Japanese food, as well as the culture a little bit. I don’t even know what it is about it, I just really enjoy the culture.
Talking a little bit about MASTERCHEF JUNIOR – were you a fan of the show before auditioning? How did you get involved in wanting to be a part of this?
I had been watching MASTERCHEF since I was 10 or 11, around when the 4th season was happening, and I noticed one day that Season 1 was popping up on the guide, of MASTERCHEF JUNIOR, and I watched through the whole season, got done with everything, and I thought it looked really fun. I saw at the end of the last episode that they had a little audition thing, so I got all of the papers printed out, brought them to my parents and just went from there!
Was there a process to prepare – a lot of times, you need to know how to make a souffle, how to cook a perfect egg. Was there a process or a practice you went through before going on the show, or did you jump in blindly and hope it went well?
For me, it was a little bit of both. When I started the show, I had a pretty basic knowledge of cooking, but before I auditioned and everything, I did a lot of practice at home and studied over the most essential parts. And then when I actually got on the show, I was taught to do so many amazing new things.
I’ve talked to a lot of the chefs from the show – you all seem so friendly and supportive of each other. Does that help you, propel you to succeed, knowing you all had friends to support you?
It feels like in the adult version of MASTERCHEF, everything’s a little too cutthroat. But with the kids, with me and the kids and everybody, it’s really a lot different. Having people who support you rather than go against you.
You think about some of those other shows, and I doubt you’d see anyone help each other make a sauce. That’s why I love watching this show.
I really enjoyed the fact that we’re able to help each other, and at some points, the fact that we’re in competition doesn’t even matter. We’re all just equally trying to help each other succeed.
What were you thinking when you knew that Gordon, Graham, and Joe would be the judges – what were you thinking about working with them, and then how did it turn out to work with them?
At first when they popped up as the people that I realized I was going to meet them and talk with them, it was extremely intimidating [laughs] because I never thought I could even come close to achieving the standards that I ended up being able to for the first few episodes. And it’s really – they’re so much nicer than they appear to be on TV.
Even how nice they are – you’re so used to seeing them scream at people. They all seemed so invested, wanting to be sure the chefs were able to produce your best food. It’s so supportive.
With the judges – one thing about them, they all have kids of their own, so it’s like the softer side of them kind of comes out sometimes. It’s really nice being able to work with them, and actually have that kindness that they don’t show to the adults.
Did you have a favorite challenge?
After MASTERCHEF, I really, really like making chili. It’s become a lot of fun, and getting a little bit better every time.
When you look back, is there something you think “maybe I would have changed that one?”
Looking back, it’s hard to say, but I think during the first mystery box, probably, I would do something with the salmon instead of with dessert ingredients like I did.
Does your family now ask you to make things that they’ve seen you cook on the show?
My family really tries to just eat what I make, and try not to force me to cook, but it has been really fun making new foods and having them try it with me. It’s really kind of a new experience to enjoy all of those things with people that you love!
Have people approached you, have you been recognized places?
Pretty much everyone in my school recognizes me now, which is a little bit crazy during the day, because it’s hard when you’re in a rush, running around the school to stop and talk to everyone! But in public, I haven’t been noticed that much.
Do you see cooking as what you want to do – do you want to be a restaurateur, do you want to be an executive chef, what’s your future hold?
Future wise, I’m thinking I probably want to go to school – whether it be in San Diego or Paris or wherever. I’ve never really been a fan of the high stress, cooking directly in a restaurant on the expediting line and all of that. I think what I might want to do is maybe try and open up a pastry shop somewhere in Japan, France, America.
You could open up in all three!
That sounds actually a lot better than just doing one place!
You’re from the San Diego area – one of my favorite cities! Is there a restaurant in town that you have as your favorite, or a pastry shop you love going to?
Restaurant wise, there’s too many to even count! Pastry wise, there used to be a pastry shop called Swoon (they closed down because they’re moving somewhere else), but I loved going there! I would always try the new little selection of pastries they had every day!
Why are people enjoying MASTERCHEF JUNIOR or why do you think they should watch?
I think a lot of people tune into MASTERCHEF JUNIOR rather than MASTERCHEF because everyone is so nice to one another. It’s really a refreshing change from seeing a lot of cooking competitions like HELL’S KITCHEN or the adult MASTERCHEF where they’re all trying to go against each, which isn’t really what the competition is about!
MASTERCHEF JUNIOR airs Tuesday nights at 8/7c on FOX.