“I started baking at age 3-4 with my mom, just simple things such as cookies, cupcakes, cakes, etc. I started cooking with my dad around age 10-11. I think that just being in the kitchen and watching cooking shows on TV since there wasn’t anything better to watch was what geared me towards cooking.”
– Alexander Weiss, MasterChef Junior, on the unintentional ambience in which he grew up as a tot that has nurtured his interest in cooking and ultimately catapulted him to global fame in the field of culinary arts.
When I was 3, I’m sure I was playing in the dirt and very good at getting myself dirty. And I can vividly recall that at age 12, I was still goofing around at worst and doodling all over my textbooks at best.
By contrast, Alexander, 13, from New York, had an extraordinary childhood playing (read “baking and cooking”) in the kitchen. That is one most precious life experience that has contributed to Alexander’s international debut and dazzling walkover in the first ever MasterChef Junior competition staged in the USA.
The MasterChef kitchen is known as a mighty daunting culinary challenge, but Alexander surprised TV viewers around the world with his incredible maturity and marvelous poise that normally do not befit a 13-year-old. I’d say most adults would simply panic and crack competing under such nerve-wracking pressure.
Breathtaking maturity and poise aside, Alexander also stood out from the crowd by demonstrating a rare combination of culinary finesse and resourcefulness that even a top-notch adult chef would earnestly covet. Many cannot help but rave about the fact that Alexander is just 13 (not 31), a hard fact that belies his being so well organized in the MasterChef kitchen the way Gordon Ramsay would in his. Indeed, watching Alexander cook on TV is always a pure joy and prompts one to wonder what has made such a child prodigy in the top cooking arena.
The honor is all mine to have conducted a brief interview with Alexander following his winning the first ever MasterChef Junior title. The following write-up for that interview casts new light on the remarkable life experience of this budding young cook, his story, and his aspiration for continued advancement in the cooking industry.
SooperJerry: How is cooking influencing you in your daily life?
Alexander: Cooking is always with me everyday. If I’m not cooking, I’m thinking about it or formulating some ideas in my mind of things that I want to cook.
SooperJerry: What was it like competing in the MasterChef kitchen?
Alexander: Competing on MasterChef was quite an adventure. I had been watching MasterChef before auditions were called for MasterChef Jr. and I had always wondered what it would be like to cook in that kitchen, or to use their mystery box ingredients (for example). I never thought about competing in a reality competition before, but I decided to go for it anyways. It was quite intense in the kitchen, I didn’t really know what to expect walking into the kitchen (especially since it was the first ever season of Jr. MasterChef). I loved getting advice from the judges and being around kids who loved cooking just as much as me. That being said, I always felt the pressure!!!
SooperJerry: How the MasterChef journey has influenced or changed you?
Alexander: I realized a few months after winning MasterChef that MasterChef is not about coming onto the show as a restaurant level chef, nor as an expert in all the restaurant techniques and tricks. It is more to come and learn from the culinary masterminds and take everything you learned and go back home to try it all. In addition, competing on MasterChef is the true test to see if you have what it takes, and more importantly if you want to be in the culinary industry. And because I won the show, I really saw that I want to become a chef and that cooking is my calling. MasterChef Junior has influenced the way that I cook everyday and how I think about cooking. It has expanded my knowledge in cooking!
SooperJerry: Your next step in the wake of the first ever MasterChef Junior laurels bestowed on you?
Alexander: After the show, I am cooking on a higher level now! I am also trying to go to as many restaurants in NYC (where I live) to soak up as much knowledge as I possibly can! In the future, my goal is to have my own modern Italian/French-American restaurant here in Manhattan!
I found it a great joy making contact with Alexander and his dad Mark about the possibility of having an interview with the MasterChef Junior champ. Both of them rendered the best ever assistance I could have expected as a blogger on food. So, here goes a big Thank You from the bottom of my heart to Mark and Alexander.
Alexander is bright, charming and yes, charismatic, as seen on TV. I wish him every success in his culinary endeavors.