On Jan. 29, River Forest chef Addison Osta Smith won the title “MasterChef Junior” on season four of the kids cooking competition on Fox. Addison is the first female winner and the youngest winner of the Fox competition.
Beating 23 other contestants on the show, all between the ages of 8 and 13, the 10-year-old chef went home with the title “MasterChef Junior” and $100,000. Addison, a Roosevelt Middle School fifth-grader, whipped up scrumptious and sophisticated meals throughout the entire 12 episode season with a strong fondness to always wear a backwards cap on her head. Her three-course pan-Asian dinner beat runner-up 9-year-old Avery Kyle of Baton Rouge, Louisiana for the cooking competition’s season four winning the title and cash prize.
“I couldn’t be more proud of myself. The feeling of winning ‘MasterChef Junior’ is nothing you could ever imagine,” Addison told the Chicago Tribune.
Among the prestigious judging panel for the season were world-renowned chef Gordon Ramsay, Chicago-based chef Graham Elliot, and chef Christina Tosi, founder and owner of Momofuku Milk Bar. However, Addison’s winning meal wasn’t complete without other challenges. For the finale, Addison and her competitor Avery had 10 minutes to shop in the pantry for ingredients and 90 minutes to cook their meal. Avery cooked up a Southern menu, but it wasn’t enough to beat out Addison’s edgy Pan-Asian cuisine.
“Avery did an amazing job and I really think that either one of us would have deserved it today,” Addison said on the finale episode. “She should be really proud of herself, as well.”
Addison’s winning menu included cream of asparagus soup with smoked oysters and a sake-marinated shrimp with a seaweed, sea bean, sour plum and puffed rice salad for appetizers. Her main course of Miso-glazed black cod won over all the judges’ taste buds. Her green tea panna cotta with crumbled cookie and bruleed plum capped off her menu for dessert.
“I feel like I’m in this incredible Japanese restaurant with a very modern California twist,” Ramsay told Addison. “You are the real deal. Great job.” Other notable recipes for Addison throughout the season were braised pork ribs and blackberry soufflé.
According to the Chicago Tribune, Addison plans to take her friends to a water park with roller coasters with part of her $100,000 “MasterChef Junior” winnings. A portion will go to Housing Forward, a Maywood-based organization that helps the homeless, a cause that Addison told the Tribune she feels strongly about. The rest of her winnings is set aside for her to attend culinary school and college. Addison is also scheduled to join past show winners on a “MasterChef” cruise setting sail in November.
Addison told the Tribune that she enjoyed cooking her winning meal so much that she wants to open a pan-Asian restaurant and put her miso-glazed black cod on the menu. Also, she plans to open an Italian restaurant and a chain of bakeries around the world which feature macaroons, cakes, cupcakes and her own dessert creations she made on the show.
Addison’s mother was the one who encouraged her to audition for the show in Chicago. But like any 10-year-old, school, hanging out with friends, and playing a variety of sports is always on Addison’s mind. Being an avid softball player helped Addison encourage her teammates throughout the cooking challenges on the show.
Addison’s interest in cooking started when she was 3 years old while watching her parents in the kitchen. “I’ve always loved cooking,” Addison told Oakpark.com. “There’s no secret. You focus and work hard. If you love to do something, you’ll just try hard and you’ll succeed.”