“MasterChef Junior” season five winner Jasmine Stewart will join Great Wolf Lodge’s newly formed Junior Chef Council, which will come up with food ideas that appeal to younger palates.
“We’ve really enriched the culinary offerings for parents and thought it would be fun to create a menu for kids, by kids,” John Suley, vice president of food and beverage, said in a release. “These are no ordinary kids. These are true junior chefs who have been around the culinary arts for years and will help create a kids menu unlike any other in the country.”
The Wisconsin-based chain has 17 indoor water parks in Canada and the United States, including Great Wolf Lodge LaGrange, which opened earlier this year.
Those are high expectations, but Stewart, 13, a student at the Ron Clark Academy and already a culinary darling, is up for the challenge.
The Milton teen joins the “MasterChef Junior” season two winner, Logan Guleff. Others include Jonas Cora Ehrlich and Gavin Cora Ehrlich (sons of “Iron Chef” Cat Cora and wife, Nicole Cora Ehrlich); Madeline Zakarian and Anna Zakarian (daughters of “Iron Chef” Geoffrey Zakarian); Conrad Elliot and Jed Elliot (sons of chef Graham Elliot). Jed Elliot will serve as the council’s official taster.
Youth council members will range in age from 6 to 15.
Stewart said she became interested in cooking as early as age 3 when she hung around the kitchen with her attorney-mother, Deborah, who cooked Southern comfort food and her physician-father, Steven, who is from Jamaica and prepared Caribbean-inspired dishes that were big on spices, fruits and vegetables.
“I’m excited,” said bubbly Stewart, in a phone interview from New York. “It’s a really awesome opportunity and I love the idea of taking a kids menu and making it into something different and innovative. I really step outside the box. “
So far, Stewart has not visited one of Great Wolf’s parks, but she has friends who have gone to LaGrange.
She’s very interested in creating fresh and healthy dishes, which falls in line with some of Great’s Wolf’s offerings. The park in LaGrange, for instance, has Barnwood, a full-service, sit-down, farm-to-table restaurant.
“Sometimes, adults underestimate how much kids can really enjoy different types of food,” she said. “We’re open to trying different types of food if it’s presented in a way that is interesting and different. Kids eat with their eyes first. It has to look exciting and creative.”
She wants to create food that is healthy, fresh and blends different spices and flavors with “colorful plating that is very warm, inviting and exciting.” Stewart started her own garden two years ago and grows cucumbers, mint, thyme, corn, figs, bell peppers, kidney beans and sunflowers.
Stewart would like to see perhaps jerk chicken and waffles or jerk poppers.
If that isn’t enough to keep Stewart busy, the teen has been traveling throughout the United States and Jamaica on speaking engagements and visiting family. She’s really interested in empowering young girls through food and has created the hashtag #letyourinnergirlslay.
She also wants to inspire young home cooks to be better bakers with a new six-episode series, "Jasmine's Delightful Desserts," offered by Craftsy, now known as Bluprint, and its "Cooking With MasterChef" video lessons.
One of her favorites is a mango-lime frozen yogurt.
Stewart tests many of her dishes on her older brother, Justin, a junior at Milton High School, who sometimes serves as her sous chef.
The Junior Chef Council will get together later this summer at one of Great Wolf’s resorts in order to collaborate on their menu with the resort’s executive culinary team, with plans to roll out the menu nationwide later this fall.