I recently began watching MasterChef Junior when I realized that my cooking skills are about on par with those of a decently accomplished nine-year-old’s; rather than watching adult Chopped, which I love but is exceedingly aspirational, the junior versions of reality competition cooking shows are actually instructive for me. In fact, just last night I replicated a dish of beets prepared by Gordon Ramsay in this season’s third episode, which the MasterChefs were meant to copy as best they could in a challenge. (Most of the children did a bang-up job; I, on the other hand, would probably have been eliminated.)
MasterChef Junior is also great because it’s a kids show that presumably other kids will want to watch, and by proxy it teaches them (and us) about healthy eating (with a little extra olive oil here and there). Because of this, and because of some cooking shows’ devotion to highlighting not just food but food culture in the United States, MasterChef Junior’s next guest star is FLOTUS-Eternal Michelle Obama, discussing the vegetables in the White House garden. (The last guest judge was Mayim Bialik; when she told the kids that she is vegan, they shrieked as though they had just witnessed the live slaughter of Spongebob.)
Obama is not actually in the MasterChef Kitchen (I’m going to pretend she Skyped in her segments from Richard Branson’s island), but she still presents a hardline stance with these ailing tweens: she wants them to create a meal that is primarily vegetables. “Michelle Obama wants me to cook vegetables,” says a disgusted-looking Donovan Millstein, age nine, of Brooklyn. “Not happenin’. I don’t like vegetables. They’re evil.” Yeah right, wait until this kid is old enough to vote! At any rate, he’s gonna have to do it, because Michelle Obama is Michelle Obama, and she told him so.