Ready, set, showdown! Junior Chef Showdown welcomes 14 talented young cooks with a passion for culinary creations between the ages of nine and 13 to c . Every week, they are mentored and judged on each challenge and dish by three Food Network Canada celebrity chefs: television personality and best-selling cookbook author Anna Olson; chef and owner of Toronto’s Ruby Watchco, The Hearth, and award-winning cookbook author, Lynn Crawford; and owner of New York City’s Flip Sigi and television personality, Jordan Andino. The contestants are competing for the title of Junior Chef Showdown champion, a $25,000 cash prize
Kinza’s family is from Pakistan, so she likes to eat traditional dishes like keema and gosht at home. Her passion for cooking started with baking as she’s always loved the smell of freshly baked goods. As soon as she was allowed to use the stove on her own, Kinza would wake up and make her own breakfast. She can’t sleep at night if she hasn’t cooked in the day!
Katie’s mom is a registered dietitian and professor of nutrition, so food has always been a fundamental part of her daily life. She likes experimenting in the kitchen, even though it doesn’t always turn out well, but that’s part of the fun! Katie loves watching cooking shows so she’s looking forward to cheering on her fellow junior chefs too.
Matthew has always loved food. In the kitchen he’s inspired by his uncle who is a chef in Vancouver, B.C. Matthew likes to enhance his kitchen skills through educational YouTube videos. He also has a strong creative side and enjoys the art of plating and experimenting with sauces. His current favourite to make is a creamy mustard sauce, which he hopes the judges will love too.
Sophia’s cooking skills come from spending time in the kitchen with her mom. They started cooking together when she was one and she was cooking on her own by age six. Sophia’s dad is Chinese, so they often like to make traditional dumplings together as a family. Sophia also shares her love of cooking and baking together with her twin brother and her friends, with whom she made dinner and a cake for her birthday party this year.
Imal’s parents are from Czech Republic and their family loves to travel the world. This travel bug even speaks six languages: english, french, slovak, czech, thai and is learning mandarin. Imal and her family spent six years living in Bangkok where she loved going to the market to pick out fresh ingredients, including delicacies like cockroaches and other insects. Imal hopes to wow the judges with her international elegance.
Kaitlin’s mom is from the West Indies and her father is from Scotland, so her cooking is influenced by both cultures. Kaitlin discovered her love of food by spending time in the kitchen with her mom, and has been taking cooking classes at her local community centre for the past three years. Though her sister didn’t think she’d make it onto a cooking show, Kaitlin is ready to show her up by taking on Junior Chef Showdown.
Cooking runs in Cristian’s family. His dad is a cook and his Stepdad is a restauranteur, so food brings everyone together. He and his stepdad even built a pizza oven and Brazilian-style smoker pit in their backyard. Cristian loves to cook so much that he often wakes up at 6 a.m. to bake fresh sourdough bread from scratch for his family. Though he may find being an older brother hard, he’s ready to take on the challenge of Junior Chef Showdown.
Cesar moved to Canada from Venezuela with his family in 2013 and enjoys incorporating Latin and Mediterranean flavours into his dishes. His interest in cooking came from reading his sister’s cookbooks when he was just six years old. He started out as his mom’s helper in the kitchen but the roles have now been reversed. Cesar is a huge musical theatre aficionado and he brings flair and a focus to the competition.
Elijah is independent and loves experimenting in the kitchen, especially with Borscht. Elijah was born in Canada after his family immigrated from Ukraine. His mom is a great cook whose skills he hopes to catch up to someday. In his spare time, Elijah sings in the Toronto Children’s Choir and does ballroom dancing. He’s excited to bring his rhythmic chops to the Junior Chef Showdown kitchen.
Since he could walk, Patrick has wanted to spend his time in the kitchen. He has never been interested in toys, only kitchen appliances and ingredients. Patrick was taught to bake by his grandma, then taught to cook by parents. He even turns to his big brothers for kitchen tips. Others have picked up on his expertise, including his teacher who he helped plan a delicious Easter dinner menu.
Nyasia comes from a Jamaican and Guyanese background. She loves traditional oxtail and is learning to make it on her own. She has been watching her mom cook since she was five years old, then one day when her mom was feeling sick, she surprised her by whipping up a delicious breakfast to make her feel better. Though she’s the youngest junior chef, Nyasia is determined to make her mark in the competition.
Noah’s Dad is Italian and his Mom is Greek. His Grandparents owned a restaurant, so there is no shortage of food inspiration in his household. Noah’s real love of cooking came from his toys. The only gifts he wanted as a child were play food and a miniature chef’s hat. Now, Noah has a big collection of aprons, but the Junior Chef Showdown title is the ultimate goal.
Mia-Rose’s grandmothers are Jamaican and Nigerian. Inspired by her heritage, she likes to use hot spices and seasoning in her cooking and make cultural dishes like pounded yam. Mia-Rose was taught to cook by her mom and dad thanks to her curiosity combined with a healthy appetite keeping her interested in the kitchen. Mia-Rose is very open-minded with new food and is eager to learn new flavours in the competition.
Audrey has been helping her dad and nana in the kitchen since she was 18 months old. After her nana passed away from cancer, Audrey became inspired to become a biochemist to find a cure so that nobody has to go through the pain of losing someone they love. She won the “Heart and Hustle” award on her rep hockey team and is sure to bring these attributes to the Junior Chef Showdown kitchen.