Brookhaven's own Ivy Angst, with her signature hats, possesses energy, style and a knack for cooking. At age 12, she is in position to be the second Atlantan in three years to win "Masterchef Junior."
The seventh season finale airs Tuesdays night at 8 p.m.
Four metro Atlantans have been in the finals in the past three years alone. The others were season 5 winner Jasmine Stewart of Milton, season 5 runner-up Justise Mayberry of Sugar Hill and season 6 runner-up Quani Pointer of Buford.
"You are cooking with no fear," judge Gordon Ramsay told her at one point this season. "Every time you turn that stove, you have more and more confidence."
Later, he added: “You’re tiny, you’re powerful and you’re very talented.”
In an interview, Ivy said she isn’t the type to get stressed out.
“I didn’t have any real fear,” she said. “In the beginning, they told me the smartest people will be in the finals. That message stuck with me. I tried to focus. I tried to remember and take in all the information that the judges would give me. If something was wrong with a dish, I made sure I didn’t make that mistake again.”
Of the three judges, she felt Ramsay gave her some of the best advice: “less is more.” In the early going, she said, she tended to want to place too much on the plate, to show off all her ideas, rather than just the very best ones.
Ivy also said she had to learn how to plate her food in more appealing ways. Her first dish, she recalled, was a bit of a crowded mess. “Sometimes, you have to make it look like an art piece,” she said.
He also advised the kids to get enough sleep, a challenge on any reality show. She said her ability to focus waned the less sleep she got. “On days I felt exhausted are the days I made mistakes,” she said.
And since this show is about kids and for kids, “Masterchef Junior” likes to dump food items on the judges and the kids Nickelodeon style. “It was exciting but gross. The corn was disgusting, wet and cold,” she recalled. “The coconut was a big mess. It got in my cornrows. I’d have to get my hair all redone.”
Ivy opened the show specializing in European cuisine with a Latin flair. But she said she was like a sponge, learning new ingredients, cuisines and techniques with each challenge, trying to work outside her comfort zone.
“I got to butcher a duck,” she said. “I learned how to make lobster! When I came home, I got a lobster and my sister named it. She was pretty devastated when I cooked it!”
Ivy, who is attending Atlanta International School this fall, has big plans. She'd love to host a TV show where she travels the world and teaches kids about cooking and how to eat properly. She envisions herself as a mini-Anthony Bourdain. (Other plans: be an agricultural food scientist. Or director/actress.)
Her mom also instilled into Ivy her love of cooking. “I’m a visual learner,” she said. “I watched all the cooking TV shows like ‘Chopped’ and ‘Masterchef Junior.’ I said, ‘I could do that.’ When my mom asked me to chop an onion, I did.”
She admitted that nerves finally did get to her a bit against Che Spiotta of New York and Malia Brauer of California. Going into the final, she said, her worry was less about the taste of her food and more about presentation. UPDATE: Che ultimately won. She was a runner-up with Malia.
“Masterchef Junior,” season 7 two-hour finale, 8 p.m. Tuesday, June 4, 2019, Fox
Rodney Ho writes about entertainment for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution including TV, radio, film, comedy and all things in between. A native New Yorker, he has covered education at The Virginian-Pilot, small business for The Wall Street Journal and a host of beats at the AJC over 20-plus years. He loves tennis, pop culture & seeing live events.