At ChopChop, we love to highlight cool kids (and big kids) who are doing exciting work in the food and health world. We recently talked to Logan Guleff, who won top prize on season two of the show Masterchef Junior. Masterchef Junior is a kids cooking competition for kids in between 8 and 13 years old -- the same age as a lot of our ChopChop readers! Logan is originally from Memphis, Tennessee, but spent time in Los Angeles, California when the show was filming. If you watched the show, you may remember him best by his signature accessory: a bowtie. Logan answered our questions about how he learned to cook, what it was like being on the show, and some advice for kids who are learning to cook.
ChopChop: What is the first thing you remember cooking?
Logan: Morning coffee for my mom or pigs in blanket and devil eggs! I also remember making pasta and cookies.
ChopChop: What inspired you to try out for Masterchef Junior?
Logan: I saw Masterchef Junior on television and I thought I could really do it, and possibly even win. I asked my Dad what he thought and he encouraged me to try out! My parents helped me set my goals – 1) Meet Chef Ramsay, and 2) Earn the Chef coat, but never to really win the show.
ChopChop: Tell us about the meal that won the competition.
Logan: I made a spot prawn grilled with a romaine lettuce and an olive tapenade. The star of the dish was a smoked saffron aioli. I used the smoking gun, which was too cool! Then I made roasted baby veggies with preserved lemon and pequino peppers and a salt crusted bronzing stuffed with butter and lemon. Dessert was a lemon Madeline with a berry compote and goat cheese mousse - every part of these dishes was special to me, they told a story.
ChopChop: Wow! That sounds good. How do you come up with recipes?
Logan: I start with an idea and I keep a flavor journal as well as my own book of recipes. I make lots of notes and drawings and then I try them.
ChopChop: Have you ever messed up a recipe? What was it and what happened?
Logan: Oh yeah, if you don't make mistakes you can't learn. I have ruined, burned, charred, and just bombed many things. I also have had great success and created award winning new flavors and recipes.
ChopChop: What is the most fun part of cooking?
Logan: The most fun is making food that makes people happy. I love it when my dish is enjoyed.
ChopChop: What is one recipe all kids should learn to cook?
Logan: They should learn their favorite food! It is where to start, something they love. Then think about what would make it better, and “Bam,” you are a recipe creator!
ChopChop: What advice do you have for kids who haven't cooked before and may be a little nervous?
Logan: The kitchen can be a dangerous place so obey the rules! Learn how to put out fires and always listen to the adult helping you. It will get easier, the more you do.
ChopChop: Do you like to go food shopping? Where do you get most of your ingredients?
Logan: I love going to international markets and seeing all the food that we never get in a traditional market. That is the most fun!
ChopChop: On the show you used some cool tricks that looked like they involved some science. Do you think there's a lot of science in cooking?
Logan: Yes cooking is almost all science -- temperature, pressure, and time. It is all about what chemical reactions you can make. Some make things rise and some make meat tender. I mean how cool is that!?
ChopChop: What is your favorite cooking trick?
Logan: The smoking gun is the best trick for taking a dull thing and giving it a big “pow” of flavor.
ChopChop: A smoking gun is pretty advanced! What is one piece of kitchen equipment that all kids should learn to use?
Logan: Everyone needs to learn to use a knife. Maybe, start with a mezzaluna and work up to a good sharp blade. These skills will take you far.
ChopChop: Do you wear a bowtie when you cook at home, or is that just for TV?
Logan: I wear it for special events only- I am kind of a messy cook! But the ties were all made by my Godmother so I felt her love, when I was wearing it on the show!
ChopChop: Do you want to be a professional chef when you grow up, or is there something else you want to do?"
Logan: I am not sure, I mean, I am 12 and lots of jobs sound cool and interesting. I know I will always enjoy cooking and food. It is an amazing life skill, and it is too much fun to stop.
ChopChop: If you could cook a meal for anyone in the world, who would it be?
Logan: I cook at homeless shelters and help with those that hungry. But imagine what it would be like to cook for the President! That would be cool!
ChopChop: Well, you were pretty close to President Obama. ChopChop was at the White House the same year you were for the Kids' State Dinner. What was the dish you made that earned you a spot at the dinner?
Logan: I made a Tuna Schooners - low fat tuna salad with quinoa and served in sweet peppers as boats with lettuce leaf sails. It is amazing to be in the White House and eat! It gave me so much confidence and I know it is really special place!
Logan reached out to us to share his cooking story. Do you have a story about how you started cooking you want to share? Or do you know a cool kid who should be featured on ChopChop’s blog? Send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.