A’Dan said he grew up watching “Hell’s Kitchen.” His mom, Sophia Riley, encouraged him to audition. He has been helping her cook for years and oversees dinner two or three days a week.
He currently loves making steak and mashed potatoes with asparagus. He said his dad got him into cooking while his aunt and grandmother taught him Southern cuisine.
“I have roots in Alabama,” he said. “My grandmother is an amazing cook. My mom is not. She’s come to terms with it.”
Sophia, his mom, said A’Dan is a tough critic. “I can cook enough for us to survive,” she said.
Her favorite dish her son makes is his lamp chops. “He won’t tell me his ingredients,” she said. “He wants to save it for his cookbook.”
A’Dan said since the show was taped, he can cook more Hispanic food and is a better griller.
On the first episode, Gordon Ramsay, who is much kinder on “Masterchef Junior” than “Masterchef” or “Hell’s Kitchen,” talked to A’Dan about Atlanta and that he had gone catfishing there. “They are huge!” he said.
In his first challenge, A’Dan made creamy grits and lobster, a type of seafood he had never cooked before so on screen he said he had to guess how long to cook it. “Seafood is very delicate to cook with,” he said.
“You’re cooking with such confidence,” Ramsay later said.
A’Dan has ambitious plans to open multiple restaurants. When he was 10, he told Fox he wanted to open a vegan restaurant. He now wants to also open a place where he hires ex-convicts.
He felt most connected with judge Aarón Sanchez. “He’s like a nicer version of Gordon Ramsay,” A’Dan said. “He’s Hispanic. I am, too.”
A’Dan said he came into the show wanting to focus on his cooking and not making friends. But he made friends anyway. “We shared recipes,” he said. “We helped each other elevate our own dishes.”
If you want to meet A’Dan, he will be at a watch party tonight at Whiskey Tees in Stockbridge.
‘Masterchef Junior,” season 8 debuts at 8 p.m. Thursday, March 17 and will be available the next day on Hulu