'MasterChef Junior' Premiere Recap: Ramsay Likens One Contestant to a 'Little Rhino'

masterchef juniorSome of the world's youngest home cooks busted out their new, personalized aprons for the start of MasterChef Junior season 3 Tuesday night. 

Kids, ranging from 8 to 13 years old, with culinary techniques most adults would covet, faced judges Gordon Ramsay, Graham Elliot, and Joe Bastianich for some fierce competition in the kitchen. 

While all the tiny chefs are absolutely adorable and boast the impressive knife skills of budding ninjas, three cooks, Jenna, Jack, and Kayla (who cut herself and was the ultimate professional about it), immediately set themselves apart from the pack with their drool-worthy dishes. (Can I get Kayla's Mango Turnover With Coconut Créme Anglaise delivered, please? I'm lucky I can spell these things, never mind make them!)


Due to a three-way win in the first round, unprecedented in MasterChef Junior history, the talented trio not only indulged in ice cream sundaes, but stood back and watched as their new friends and fellow cheftestants prepared the homemade pasta they chose for them: pappardelle! 

If you just asked, "What the heck is that?" you're not alone. Twitter fans were quick to admit they'd never even heard of the ribbon-shaped pasta either. 

Watching the pre-teens race through the produce section of a grocery store carrying baskets that probably weighed half of what they do was both impressive and hilarious. 

Back in the kitchen, it was clear that some kids were more comfortable making pasta from scratch than others. Still, most children -- mine included -- can't even make toast, so we'll cut them some slack.

Right out of the gate, Ryan Kate, 11, from Texas, appears to be a strong contender. The judges agreed, noting, "It looks like she's been cooking pasta for years." (She probably has!)

Andrew, 11, prepared his pappardelle with a bacon cream sauce and Parmesan cheese. The home cook revealed that he typically makes breakfast, lunch, and dinner for his family. (Andrew, can I adopt you?) The chef, SPOILER ALERT, finished among the top three and impressed Bastianich by presenting "one of the best pasta dishes" in the history of the show. Ramsay later likened the New Jersey native to a "little baby rhino" as he raced around the kitchen. Though it may sound odd, coming from Ramsay, that's definitely a compliment. 

While AJ, 10, a Dora the Explorer doppelganger, seemed confident, telling the judges she'd surpassed her parents' cooking skills by age 6, she ended up hightailing it back to Long Island when her pasta proved a bit disappointing and uneven. 

Bespectacled Jimmy, 12, a newcomer to pappardelle, didn't let his inexperience stop him from making a dish Ramsay called "delicious." His "vodka, no vodka sauce" consisting of cream and cheese (you had us at cream) is sure to be talked about this season. 

While Quincy, 12, had one of the most attractive presentations, the judges said his pasta had "gone to mush," and sadly, he, too, was sent home. 

It came as little surprise that Ryan Kate, Andrew, and Jimmy were the top chefs of the evening, and it'll definitely be interesting to see what these kids cook up next week!

As heartbreaking as it is to see the children whose dishes just didn't make the cut sent home, there's a heartwarming element to the show as well. At one point before the winners were announced, Ryan Kate put her arm around little Riley, 8 (pictured above and sure to be a fan favorite), and told him he did "amazing." Aww!! Could it get any sweeter? 

You can't help but root for each and every one of these kids. Why? Because they're incredibly talented, and unless it's a clever editing trick, they're all rooting for each other -- even as they're competing against one another! Kindness is a dish that's rarely served on reality TV, so when it comes along, it's best to savor every morsel!  

Who do you think has the skills to be crowned MasterChef Junior this season?

Image via MasterChefJunior/Facebook 

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