“MasterChef Junior Cookbook: Bold Recipes and Essential Techniques to Inspire Young Cooks” by Shine Television, LLC; Clarkson Potter/Publishers, an imprint of Penguin Random House, LLC; $19.99, 240 pages, paperback

When I watch television cooking shows featuring kids, I am always amazed at the young cooks’ prowess in the kitchen.

I, along with most of my elementary school classmates, knew only a few basic cooking techniques, certainly not sophisticated ones like the contestants use. If we wanted to surprise family members with a treat for birthdays or Valentine’s Day, we prepared something like toast or pancakes and orange juice for breakfast or baked simple-to-make cookies.

Now, youngsters aspire to cook like master chefs. If you know such a child, pick up a copy of “MasterChef Junior Cookbook: Bold Recipes and Essential Techniques to Inspire Young Cooks.” The cookbook aims to provide “excellent recipes and how-to information for honing young cooking skills. It’s both a practical tool that really anyone can use to try new techniques and types of dishes in their own home, as well as a celebration of the show,” says the introduction.

Side Dish: Recipe for Italian Burgers with Kalamata Olive Relish

In the foreword, "MasterChef Junior" judge Christina Tosi points out that “cooking — the art, the appeal of spending time in the kitchen — has become a cultural phenomenon, and … kids are learning to cook. … But the most exciting part for me is seeing the way young chefs’ minds work. They’re much too young to fear failure, they’re still learning the rules of the road, and their imaginations run wild every single day.”

The 100 recipes, inspired by the cooking series' first five seasons, are divided into six sections: Snacks & Starters, Fish & Shellfish, Meat & Poultry, Pasta, Sides & Salads and Desserts. Among the recipes are Crawfish Étouffée and Braised Pork Belly by Baton Rouge’s pint-sized chef Avery Kyle, who finished second in Season 4.

The book is illustrated with 50 full-color photographs from the show and 80 photos of completed dishes.

This cookbook is a good choice for creative young — or older — home cooks who know basic cooking skills but want to learn new techniques. Adult assistance will be needed for many of the dishes.


Cheramie Sonnier is a food writer and columnist. Contact her at sonnierfood@gmail.com, and follow her on Twitter, @CheramieSonnier.