Taiwanese American Liya Chu wins U.S.' MasterChef Junior

06/25/2022 12:17 AM
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Liya Chu, now 13, poses for a photo with her MasterChef Junior Season 8 Champion trophy. Photo taken from Liya Chu
Liya Chu, now 13, poses for a photo with her MasterChef Junior Season 8 Champion trophy. Photo taken from Liya Chu's Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/liya_chu08/

Taipei, June 24 (CNA) Liya Chu, the daughter of two New York-based Taiwanese restaurateurs, has been crowned the champion of the U.S. television cooking competition MasterChef Junior, after wowing the judges, including celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay, with a feast of fusion cuisine.

In the finale of the eighth season of the show, first broadcast Thursday, Chu walked away with US$100,000 with a series-winning spread of spiced duck breast with scallion pancakes and miso eggplant, followed by coconut pandan panna cotta with passion fruit coulis and sesame tuille.

Chu, who was 10 years old at the time of filming three years ago, faced off against then-11-year-old Grayson Price from Austin, Texas after the duo beat out 14 other children.

"This would mean a lot to win in front of my family because cooking really just runs in my blood, so I just wanna keep that tradition going," Chu, who honed her culinary skills helping at parents' restaurants, said after winning.

In addition to the big cash prize, Chu also won a chance to dine with Ramsay at his restaurant in Las Vegas as well as a line of top-end kitchen appliances.

"It's so crazy to be the next Masterchef Junior. Starting from my mom's kitchen getting here now I can't wait to open my own restaurant. This is the best day of my life."

Chu's Taiwanese heritage was on show from the start, with the young prodigy serving up a dish of soy and honey glazed eel with rice vermicelli and ginger vinaigrette in the first episode that prompted Ramsay to say "You can definitely cook Taiwanese and it's delicious."

She continued in a similar vein throughout, whipping up family staples passed down from her mother including dumplings and duck.

Although she participated in the junior version of the show, Chu's win makes her the first Taiwanese-American to win a championship title in the U.S. edition of MasterChef, putting her ahead of her adult counterparts Jason Wang (王凱傑), Lynn Chyi, Felix Fang and Fred Chang.

Wang, who finished as joint runner-up on the adult version of the cooking elimination show, has parlayed his success into a television career. His latest series, "Jason's Table: Shocked and Surprised," is currently available on TaiwanPlus.

Jason's Table: Shocked & Surprised on YouTube

(By James Lo)

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