Meet Avani of #MasterChefJunior

Avani from Master Chef JuniorWho or what was your inspiration to start cooking?
I got into watching cooking shows on TV, and became inspired by Candace Nelson who is a guest judge on Cupcake Wars and has her own chain of cupcake shops. I’d like to be a pastry chef and a business woman like her one day.

At what age did you start cooking? What was your initial experience like?
I started cooking with my dad when I was 6 years old. We would make pancakes and eggs, and after a while he let me do them on my own. I started experimenting with different flavors and then started making savory dishes. Baking is still my favorite though.

Why did you want to be on MasterChef Junior?
I actually didn’t set out to be on TV. I just enjoy cooking and when we learned about a casting call happening in Chicago, we thought it would be a fun thing to go do one weekend. I made it past the first audition, and then the second. And several interviews and auditions later, I found myself in Los Angeles on the show!

What did you most enjoy about being on the show?
Definitely the best part was making friends with the other junior chefs and sharing our passion for cooking together. I learned a lot from the other contestants, as well as the judges on the show.

What is it like cooking for Gordon Ramsay? What was the best advice he gave you?
At first it was intimidating but he was really nice and encouraged us to do our best. He was really focused on mastering technique and paying attention to detail.

What’s is your signature dish?
Thai coconut curry is my favorite thing to make on the savory side. But I also love making cupcakes and cakes.

Where do the ideas for your dishes come from?
I’m lucky that I get to travel a lot with my parents and eat at lots of different restaurants and try different foods. I like to watch cooking shows on TV and YouTube to get new ideas as well.

If you could create a challenge for Master Chef Junior, what would it be?
I would like to give contestants a potato pancake challenge were the contestants make their style pancakes.

Do you want to someday own your own restaurant and if so, what kind of food would you serve?
I would like to have a bakery called Avani’s Sweet Treats.

What was the most difficult challenge in the MasterChef Junior kitchen?
For me, it was the beef Wellington. I had never eaten it before or made it before.

Outside of the show, what kinds of fun activities did you do with the other contestants?
We had outings to the park, to Hollywood and to Santa Monica pier. We also spent time at the hotel where there was a pool and nice outdoor patio area. There were some great restaurants close by and most meals were always with one or more contestant.

What chef do you most want to cook with and why?
I would mostly like to cook with a pastry chef called Candace Nelson. She is a judge on a food network show. She is one of my many inspirations for cooking and she is the owner of Sprinkles cupcakes.

If you were a judge on MasterChef Junior, what would you look for in a winning dish?
One of the most important things to look out for is creativity, thinking outside the box.

Besides cooking, what other things do you like to do?
I like to dance, I do ballet and jazz which is super fun. I play with my brother often. I also love to travel.

How do you feel about watching yourself on TV?
I really enjoy watching myself on TV because I see how young I was when I started this experience and the progress I’ve made through this opportunity.

Would you ever star in your own cooking show?
I would love to star in my own pastry show because i love pastries, baking, and think it would be so fun to judge contestants!

What lesson did you take away from Master Chef Junior?
To try my best because if you try your best there comes great experiences.

Do you have any advice or tips for the remaining junior chefs in the competition?
One of my favorite teachers always told me to follow my dreams. That’s a motto to follow! I believe in you guys! try your very best and never give up!