5 Minutes with Joe Bastianich

September 27, 2013 at 9:00 am , by

The Masterchef dishes about working with kids on the new Fox show, Masterchef Junior, which debuts September 27. Please Joe, tell us you don’t make any of the little contestants cry.

The contestants on the show range from age eight to 13. Do you judge differently on Masterchef Junior than you do on Masterchef?

We want these kids to cook on the same level as the adults, so we try to treat them the way we treat the adults. The kids were a little bit tepid in the beginning, but as much as we’re judging them, we’re also coaching them.

So you don’t go easy on them?

You’ve got to give them love, but sometimes a little bit of tough love is also good. And the kids are great because they’re honest—they speak their minds unhindered, which makes for great reality television.

How did the kids fare in the kitchen as compared to the adults?

They’re better than the adults, I swear to god. A lot of the baking is really impressive because baking is very technical. I think their use of what we consider really gourmet ingredients is amazing.

What’s one of the main pieces of advice you gave the children during the show?

Don’t be frustrated. The one thing that kids do is take their setbacks very seriously. So I think you’ve got to teach them how to regroup, come back and do better next time. The adults have a little bit more maturity—they can deal with setbacks and have more patience. But the kids make up for that because they have so much passion and energy for cooking.

Do you think you would’ve liked being on a cooking show as a kid? 

No, I was much too stupid. These kids are much smarter than me!