'MasterChef Junior' tour brings recipe of cooking and fun to Benedum Center

Don’t expect macaroni and cheese when these kids make dinner.

The “MasterChef Junior Live!” tour rolls into the Benedum Center Sunday night, with four of the Fox network stars expected to whip up far more sophisticated fare. The young home cooks, ages 9 to 14, will be competing against each other but the family-friendly, 90-minute show will also have interactive elements.

Some in the audience will get to serve as sous chefs, and a Q&A is planned.

So, how do you plan a cooking show on a performing arts stage?

“Very carefully,” said Stephen Cook, president and CEO of TCG Entertainment, a live production company based north of Dallas.

“When we came up with the idea, we met with Endemol Shine North America [which owns the TV show]. They have done these ‘MasterChef’ cruises, so they kind of had an idea how to do these things ‘mobile,’ for lack of a better word.”

Electric stoves, not gas, will be at the work stations. The show’s fans will recognize the design: the colors, the wood and style touches, the “MasterChef” logo.

The cooks are Jasmine Stewart, 14, of Atlanta, who won Season 5; Malia Brauer, 12, of Santa Clarita, Calif., a season 7 finalist. Evan Estrada, 14, of San Diego and Matthew Smith, 9, of Livingston, N.J. were fan favorites in Seasons 6 and 7.

“We wanted to have the same line-up for the whole run. We had a lot of kids interested, obviously, but we wanted a different mix of winners and fan favorites,” Cook said.

Many of the elements familiar to viewers will be on stage: the mystery box challenge, the timed cooks. No Gordon Ramsay but then, the man is always off shooting what seems to be a dozen shows at one time.

The tour begins Oct. 3 in Joliet, Ill. and concludes Oct. 21 in Riverside, Calif. TCG’s live touring productions have ranged from the music of Prince, symphonic hip-hop and metal, to “Cirque Musica,” a combination of Cirque du Soleil-type performance and music.

“We are very used to working with kids and families. This one is very different in the sense that these kids have not toured before. We have an onsite tutor because schooling is obviously very important.”

Cook said he was inspired to whip up this tour after noting how much his children, ages 8 and 10, loved watching the TV show.

“It’s interesting. When we were growing up, we were watching cartoons, right? And now kids don’t. They’re watching home improvement shows and ninja stuff and MasterChef.”

Original Article

Saicy Lytle