Meet 13-year-old Quani of Buford from 'Masterchef Junior'

Posted Tuesday, March 27, 2018 by RODNEY HO/ on his AJC Radio & TV Talk blog

Quani Pointer of Buford loves soccer but he loves cooking more, which is why he has made it into the top 18 of the latest season of Fox's "Masterchef Junior," which airs Fridays at 8 p.m.

His cooking strength is baking, which he does frequently. He and his paralegal mom Rebecca invited me over to their new home in Buford, which was still empty last week. They brought a KitchenAid mixer and enough supplies to create vanilla cupcakes with marshmallow frosting with chocolate ganache. ("It's better than fudge," he said, of ganache.)

Over five episodes, the 13 year old has been on the bottom multiple times but has survived thus far. He's going to need to start moving up the ranks quickly if he has a realistic shot at winning. "I'm due for a comeback," he said.

Of the judges, he thinks Gordon Ramsay is the toughest but Joe Bastianich is the scariest. "He just looks at you," Quani said.

"It's hard to tell what he thinks," Rebecca added.

Quani was able to cruise through last week's wedding catering episode. He was assigned plating so he stayed out of harm's way. He was just sad to see his good friend Ben get cut. This Friday, they have to cook something based on their heritage but his favorite moment was simply getting a massive amount of sugar dumped on his head.

MASTERCHEF: JUNIOR EDITION: L-R: Contestants Quani and Ben in the all-new “Junior Edition: American Classics” episode of MASTERCHEF airing Friday, March 16 (8:00-9:00 PM ET/PT) on FOX. CR: FOX. © 2018 / FOX Broadcasting.

As a result of his TV exposure, he's now semi-famous at his middle school.

"Everyone acts like they know me," Quani said, with a grin.

And his mom is not at all perturbed that he is now a better cook than she is. "I'm good for the family," she said. "He's good for everyone else."

He's also a budding entrepreneur. He sells baked goods at he and his brother's soccer games, often clearing $100 to $200 a pop. He makes cookies and for portability, he and his mom created cupcake sandwiches and sell them at games for $3 apiece. "I try to feed his creativity as much as possible," Rebecca said.

Every Friday last summer, he catered her office.

Rebecca said his interest in cooking started early: "He liked to cook with me then started doing it on his own," she said, at about age six.

"I want to run a bakery," he said. He thinks it's more creative and fun than regular cooking.

His favorite non-baking dish is pan-seared salmon with honey and soy sauce. His favorite dessert he came up with: brownie Rice Krispie treats.

Recently, he has learned how to make home-made pasta with different flavors.

"I make him try to stick with a recipe once but he likes to venture off pretty quickly," his mom said.

He likes to experiment. "I tried to convince her to get me a blowtorch," he said. She said no. (Maybe when he's 16, she said.)

Watching him cook, I can sense the joy in what he does. Plus, he has an air of super calmness, a great type of energy in a kitchen. He is thrilled to be breaking in a brand new kitchen in their home. "Most kids care about their room," Rebecca said. "He cared about the kitchen."

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About the Author

Rodney Ho
Rodney Ho
Rodney Ho covers radio and television for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.