“Seared rosemary lamb chop with a red wine reduction sauce, fried potato cake and grilled asparagus.”
The name of the dish rolled off Avery Kyle’s tongue as it would from a seasoned chef, say an Emeril or a Wolfgang. At only 9, Avery has, in fact, been cooking about half of her life.
The dish is one of her favorites to create in the kitchen, as is crawfish etouffee. The Baton Rouge youngster whipped up the latter on a recent episode of Fox’s “MasterChef Junior.” It was a hit.
Kyle has continued to impress the reality competition series’ judges — chefs Gordon Ramsay, Graham Elliot and Christina Tosi — all season, thus earning one of four spots in Friday’s semifinals.
“I was always a fan of the show ever since the first episode that they ever aired,” Avery said. “Every year, I would wait and wait just to see that season, and I was like, ‘OK, I have to be on this show,’ and when I was 8, I auditioned.”
The series, in its fourth season, pits 24 home cooks ages 8-13, who present their prepared dishes to judges in the audition round. The group is pared to 12, who continue to vie in weekly timed culinary challenges, with two young contestants going home each episode. The winner gets $100,000 and the MasterChef Junior trophy.
This season, Kyle and her fellow competitors have tackled sweet French croquembouche and tart raspberry-mint lemonade, street foods and seared red snapper.
In last week’s episode, the six remaining hopefuls headed to host Ramsay’s estate to attempt a two-course, Michelin 3-star restaurant quality lunch for Ramsay and 20 friends. After the snapper appetizer and roasted venison entree, the VIPs’ jaws dropped when they met their young “chefs for the day.”
Ramsay, best known for his brash, in-your-face rants on other shows including “Hell’s Kitchen,” “Kitchen Nightmares” and “Hotel Hell,” is Avery’s favorite “Junior” judge, she said.
“I think that he likes the kids better, because when we were on there, he was really nice to us.”
The Episcopal School fourth-grader, who’ll turn 10 on Feb. 6, said her culinary interest surfaced when she was just 4 or 5. At that point, her mother, Sharon Kyle, allowed her to stir the pots, but the preparatory knife work was off limits.
“So I did that, and later, I started learning knife techniques,” she said.
She credits her whole family as being her cooking influences. Outside the kitchen, she enjoys gymnastics, swimming, karate, guitar, riding her motorcycle and hunting with dad Ronnie Kyle and some of his friends.
“And I’m also an A-plus student,” she added.
As for a culinary career, Avery has other plans.
“Throughout high school, I want to be an actor, and then I want to go to college and get my law degree, and be a lawyer,” she said.
She’s learned a lot of things from “MasterChef Junior,” she said, most of all to never to give up.
And if she walks away with the trophy and the cash?
“I would give some to charity, put some in my college fund, and take my family on a vacation.”