About four years ago, 11-year-old Mackenzie Patten jumped into the kitchen and tried her hand at making specialty dishes like her father and grandmother.
“My dad is a really good cook and so is my grandma, and I really wanted to try out cooking,” said Patten, a fifth-grade student at Wiley Canyon Elementary. “When I started cooking, I liked it a lot.”
Today, Patten’s areas of expertise include desserts, breakfast omelets, sunny-side-up eggs and Gyoza, a Japanese dumpling dish.
“My grandma is Japanese and I’m Asian and Gyoza is really yummy, and it just fascinated me,” Patten said. “There’s folding it apart and adding in the meat and it looked so fun so I tried it one day.”
Now, the Wiley Canyon student is taking her cooking skills to the big screen on Season 6 of Masterchef Junior.
“I really wanted to go on the show because it seems challenging and I like challenges and I accept challenges,” she said.
Patten is one of 40 young chefs between the ages of 8 and 13 competing for the MasterChef white apron on the season’s two-hour premiere Friday on Fox. To make it to the top 24, the girls had to create a medium-rare filet mignon dish and the boys had to create a chicken breast dish.
After they make it through the initial challenge, the 12 male chefs and 12 female chefs, including Patten, have to showcase their culinary abilities through challenges and team competitions.
“I loved doing the team challenge. It was really fun and really competitive and it was super challenging, but easy in a way,” 11-year-old Patten said. “I made a bunch of friends and they were from across the country. They’re so cool and I’m still friends with one of them.”
During her time on the show, Patten said she created about 10 to 11 different dishes. The challenges brought both triumphs and trials for the young chef who created tried making new cuisine like sushi and fruit tarts.
“I tried fruit tarts… It was super hard to make. It took me forever to learn how to make the crust. I either added too much of one ingredient and not enough of the other. It frustrated me but then I finally figured it out,” Patten said. “I had never made one before and I also tried sushi… The sushi came out a little too big and the soy sauce was too bitter.”
But through it all, Patten said her parents, as well as Chef Gordon Ramsay—a man known for his intensity in the kitchen—were kind and supportive.
“They (my parents) were super supportive and motivating,” Patten said. “And Gordon Ramsay was supportive of everything, I was actually surprised myself. He told me try to do that, or do that better, or give that more flavor and he was so funny and so supportive. With the grownups he’s really mean.”
As Patten continues to hone her cooking skills, she hopes to open up her own restaurant just for kids to hang out and enjoy good food.
“If I don’t open up a kids’ restaurant, I want to become a chef and open up my own restaurants and have sous chefs and people working for me,” Patten said. “I want to open a restaurant wherever I’m going to be so it’s not too far from me.”
On Twitter as @_ChristinaCox_