'MasterChef Junior' Champion Jasmine Stewart on Baking Fundamentals and Inspiring Girls to Slay
As of Friday night, MasterChef Junior will have a new young home cook taking home the title. But season five champion Jasmine Stewart isn't slowing down one year after she won the series. Stewart is training the next generation of home cooks to be better bakers with a new six-episode series offered by lifestyle projects website Craftsy and its "Cooking With MasterChef" video lessons.
The 13-year-old has been cooking for nearly a decade (her first solo dish was scrambled eggs), so she's got years worth of tips and tricks to share which she's doing in her video series as well as at Camp MasterChef later this summer. I spoke with Stewart over the phone to find out what she's excited to teach people, all about her epic garden, and her culinary career goals.
Adam Campbell-Schmitt: What have you been up to since the show?
Jasmine Stewart: Since the finale, I've been extremely busy. I've been on MTV which was super cool. I've had the chance to travel, I've been to Jamaica, to New York, to California, and all around Georgia. I've done cooking demos and meet-and-greets, I've done a lot of public speaking about my message of healthy eating. I recently came up with the hashtag #LetYourInnerGirlSlay and what I'm trying to do is inspire girls that whoever they are on the inside and whatever their aspirations are, to truly let that out, truly embody it, and slay. And I've been super busy with the MasterChef Junior Cookbook—some of my recipes are featured in there.
ACS: How has your cooking changed since competing on MasterChef Junior?
JS: My cooking has changed tremendously. I'm more creative and more experimental. I'm making my dishes more sophisticated because on the show we really have to focus on plating, so I try to make sure that all my plates are pretty. I'm more confident when messing up and with trying new things. From the show, I picked up better knife skills and how to flambé. I'm definitely more confident and more sophisticated in the kitchen, which is awesome.
ACS: What are you excited to cook this summer?
JS: Right now in Georgia, it's super hot, so I've been going really light. One of the recipes I made on "Jasmine's Delightful Desserts" is a mango lime frozen yogurt, so stuff like that, looking to see how I can elevate simple and cool flavors. I also have my own garden, so I'm excited to harvest things from my garden.
ACS: What are you growing in your garden?
JS: Okay, this is going to be a lot, so prepare yourself. We have blackberries, blueberries, strawberries, grapes, cucumbers, carrots, watermelon, tomatoes, lemon, sunflowers, rosemary, basil, three different types of mint, dill, jalapenos, bell peppers, lima beans, kidney beans, pineapple, ginger, sweet potatoes, a whole bunch!
ACS: What's your advice to kids who want to compete on cooking shows like you have? How should they get started and when?
JS: I would say there's no particular age when you should start cooking. I started young, but there are people who can learn a whole bunch of stuff in a year just by continuing to practice. So I would say if you're interested, don't think that you're too young or too old, just get started. And get into the kitchen with somebody who can cook, like I learned things from my parents. Get comfortable with your knife skills and try to cook with somebody who embodies your cooking style.
ACS: What will you be teaching in your series?
JS: I will be teaching kids and adults how to make six of my favorite recipes, so some of them will be recipes I made on the show, including my winning pineapple upsidedown cake from the finale, and some will be recipes I came up with. I'll also be sharing some of my tips and tricks and secret hacks in the kitchen.
ACS: What are the important fundamentals people—especially kids—should learn when they get started baking?
JS: One thing with baking that's really important to learn is measurements because if you miss one, then the whole thing can go south, so focus on math and make sure you're good at fractions. Honestly, I think one of the biggest things is to practice. If you keep practicing a certain dish, you'll get better at it and learn things along the way. Also, mistakes are totally okay, just keep trying. And finally, have fun. When you're kind of frazzled and stressed out your dish won't turn out as well as it could, so have fun.
ACS: Do you have culinary career plans in your future?
JS: I definitely love cooking, and one thing I found out from being on MasterChef Junior is that I love being on camera and filming the show. So I think I would love to combine cooking and TV and maybe be a TV chef like Bobby Flay or like Giada, because I think that would be very cool. But outside of cooking I'm interested in maybe being an entertainment attorney or being a news anchor, so there's definitely a lot of paths and careers I'm super interested in. But I will, of course, continue to cook.
"Cooking With MasterChef: Jasmine's Delightful Desserts" is available to stream on Craftsy Unlimited.