Chocolate, cheese, and coulis: Meet the pint-sized celebrity chefs coming to Pittsburgh | Food | Pittsburgh | Pittsburgh City Paper

Chocolate, cheese, and coulis: Meet the pint-sized celebrity chefs coming to Pittsburgh

click to enlarge Jasmine Stewart at work in the kitchen - PHOTO COURTESY OF FOX
Photo courtesy of FOX
Jasmine Stewart at work in the kitchen

Malia Brauer is an average 12-year-old. She loves to dance, her favorite subject in school is science, and if she were a superhero, she’d have mermaid powers. But unlike other 12-year-olds, she also knows how to sear a filet mignon, make soba noodles by hand, and perfectly set panna cotta.

Brauer is one of four contestants on MasterChef Junior Live!, the first-ever tour of the popular television show, MasterChef Junior. She, along with Evan Estrada (14), Matthew Smith (9), and Jasmine Stewart (14), will go head-to-head in live, delicious culinary challenges on stages across the country.

These pint-sized chefs come to Pittsburgh on Sun., Oct. 6. Before they turn the Byham Theater into a kitchen, CP got a chance to get to know the chef-testants a little better.

click to enlarge PHOTO COURTESY OF MASTERCHEF JUNIOR LIVE!
Photo courtesy of MasterChef Junior Live!

Malia Brauer, 12
Season Seven Finalist

What’s the first dish you ever cooked?
When I was very little, my great grandma would prepare ingredients for sushi, and she would let me roll up whatever sushi rolls she was making. We always make sushi for New Years because we believe it brings good luck to the new year.

What was it like competing on MasterChef Junior?
It was definitely challenging being on the show because the time limits and cooking are real. There is no extra time because we’re kids. 



What’s the best dish you’ve ever made?
Probably my finale dishes. I know I put my heart and myself on a plate. I started with a miso-glazed cod and homemade soba noodles with a quail egg for my appetizer. For the entree, I made a seared filet mignon with shishito peppers and a yuzu steak sauce. Finally, I finished with a black sesame panna cotta with a berry coulis and sesame tuile.

What do you do when you’re not cooking?
You can find me in the dance studio. I found my love of dance a few years back, and I love creating energy through song and dance.

If you were a superhero, what powers would you have?
Mermaid powers. I’d love to swim freely through the ocean and communicate with the sea animals.

If you had to choose: cheese or chocolate?
Easy — Chocolate! Chocolate ice cream, chocolate soufflé, chocolate anything.

click to enlarge PHOTO COURTESY OF MASTERCHEF JUNIOR LIVE!
Photo courtesy of MasterChef Junior Live!

Matthew Smith, 9
Season Seven Fan Favorite

What’s the first dish you ever cooked?
An egg because I always watched my dad make eggs.

What’s your favorite subject in school?
Reading because if I’m having a bad day, I can get into it and the characters and forget about it.

Do you have a least favorite food?
Maybe too sweet frosting.

If could only eat one thing for the rest of your life, what would it be?
Pizza because you can make it healthy with a cauliflower crust or comfort food with a regular crust. There’s a lot of variety in what you can do.

What do you do when you’re not cooking?
Crafts with my grandmother, active on land and water, spending quality time with my family at home or traveling.

What’s your most unusual talent?
I can unlock the front door while doing a handstand.

click to enlarge PHOTO COURTESY OF MASTERCHEF JUNIOR LIVE!
Photo courtesy of MasterChef Junior Live!

Evan Estrada, 14
Season Six Fan Favorite

What’s the first dish you ever cooked?
The first dish I cooked all by myself was leg of lamb. I stuffed the lamb with apples, onion, potatoes, and celeriac and roasted it in the oven. This was a dish I saw on a cooking show called New Scandinavian Cooking. This was the first cooking show I started watching because of my love for geography and the music group ABBA.

What’s your favorite subject in school?
I love languages. I am taking Spanish and French right now. I want to learn as many as I can and travel the world.

Do you have a least favorite food?
Not really, but if I had to choose one, I might choose durian. It is a fruit that doesn’t have the best smell. 

If could only eat one thing for the rest of your life, what would it be?
I think it would be pasta! My grandfather is Italian and I LOVE pasta. 

What do you do when you’re not cooking?
When I am not cooking, I am usually playing sports, hanging out with friends, or learning languages. I love interacting with people and being social.

What’s your most unusual talent?
I can count to 10 in 27 languages, and I am sort of a geographic genius. I am also a pretty good whistler.

If you had to choose: cheese or chocolate?
CHEESE!!

click to enlarge PHOTO COURTESY OF MASTERCHEF JUNIOR LIVE!
Photo courtesy of MasterChef Junior Live!

Jasmine Stewart, 14
Season Five Winner

What was it like competing on MasterChef Junior?
It was such an awesome experience and so much fun. I really enjoyed being around others who enjoyed doing the same things that I enjoyed — cooking. I also really enjoyed the challenge and energy of the show, meeting new people, spending time in LA, and pushing myself out of my comfort zone. 

What’s the best dish you’ve ever made?
My Caribbean-spiced salmon.

Do you have a least favorite food?
Probably okra.

If could only eat one thing for the rest of your life, what would it be?
That's a tough question. I don't have an answer for this one right now. I will need to give that some thought because I love so many things ...

What do you do when you’re not cooking?
I cheer, dance, run a business, design clothes, attend football games, shop, read, and just hang out with my friends.

If you had to choose: cheese or chocolate?
Cheese — although I LOVE both.


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