Picture Credits: MasterChef Junior
I recently had the immense pleasure to interview MasterChef Junior Season 2 Winner, Logan Guleff. I would like to thank his parents, Tom and Kim Guleff, as well as the PR Representative for MasterChef Junior, Courtney Bland, for facilitating this interview.
Logan was a wonderland of information and, upon completion of my phone interview with him – with Mom Kim adding animated background vocals to our conversation, I was tempted to add Logan’s number to my speed dial. He would be just the ticket if ever I needed a smile or chuckle or advice on my cooking or baking.
This young man may be 12 years old but his words of advice – particularly in the culinary arts or science – were beyond his chronological age. His humble demeanour and his willingness to improve were two elements that stood out for me and obviously the judges, propelling him to win the MasterChef Junior Crown.
And, I am here to say that he has not lost his youthful, shy yet enthusiastic persona – he is like a breath of clean and invigorating fresh air.
So, that being said, let me share with you the heart of our conversation – where you will learn a little more about what makes Logan – well – Logan!
And I will bet you will never – ever – guess which small appliance is his “must have” in the kitchen.
So, here we go!
MCL: Let’s start at the very beginning. Were you a picky eater as a toddler? Most young tots are pretty fussy with their food selections so were you drawn to special food or food combinations?
Logan: Yes, I was a picky eater. If we go back to when I was a baby, I didn’t like any baby food that contained ground meat. I also did not like sweet potatoes. I wouldn’t eat them. And I still won’t eat sweet potatoes but I do like ground beef now.
And to this day, I am not fond of starches such as rice and potatoes. I won’t eat French Fries. I never found a French Fry that I liked.
During the MasterChef competition, I had to work with starches and, at one point, I used rice to complement my fish dish. All I could think of was “I just want to eat the fish“!
Also, at one and a half years, I would only eat a salted mushroom pizza at this one Pizza Place. I would not go anywhere else for pizza – just this one place. Now, I try some others mainly because my parents became tired of the same pizza.
I do go to other restaurants now though. At the age of 4, i discovered Japanese food and I really loved it.
MCL: What was the first recipe you tried and how old were you at the time?
Logan: Well, I never really followed a recipe to a “t”, unless it was a baking recipe, where you have to follow the recipe. When I cook, I go by flavor and smell because they are interconnected senses.
One of the most interesting facts is that flavor is very connected to smell and you can sense if your recipe is flavorful by the aroma. So, if something smells good, it is going to taste better than if you didn’t smell it.
In other words, you can put cilantro on a steak and it will smell great but, in the end, you never taste any of the cilantro. It just contributes to the overall aroma and taste of the steak.
I started to cook when I was 2 but the first recipe I created was at the age of 8 years. It was my Chomp Burger for the JIF most creative sandwich competition which won me a trip to New York City and an appearance on the national televised The Today Show on NBC. It was a lot of fun.
The Chomp Burger and is comprised of ground turkey, peanut butter, a lot of spices, cornstarch and more. Then you had to fry it and then put it on the bun and then I made this special sauce.
Logan’s Mom added that Logan has been this “crazy, creative kid in the kitchen pretty much all his life”
MCL: Putting peanut butter on a burger was risky – what made you come up with that?
Logan: Well, I wanted to do a peanut butter burger but beef and peanut butter did not go well together. So I had to think of something else. I thought of turkey because it reminded me of those spicy Asian peanut dishes and that led me to the turkey idea.
MCL: We know that you are an incredibly talented young chef. However, we learn from our mistakes – so which mistakes/missteps allowed you to learn and grow as a young cook?
Logan: Oh yes, I made a ton of mistakes. That’s what experimentation is about though. About 90% of everything I made ended up in the trash. (MCL Notes: Okay, that made me feel better. I just discarded 4 dozen cookies at Christmas. ha!)
Logan’s Mom added he never gets discouraged. He keeps trying and trying and, when he gets it right, boy it is perfect for everyone including our neighbours and friends.
Logan agreed by saying if you just give your food to your parents, it’s not enough of a critique. If your friends, relatives, neighbours love it, then you have a better sense of your accomplishments.
MCL: Which is your favorite small appliance to use? Your “must have” in the kitchen?
Logan: Well, there are three of them I have that I can’t live without.
One of them is a coffee maker!! (MCL Notes: I wasn’t expecting that). If I don’t have a good cup of coffee in the morning – oh my gosh. I have been drinking coffee forever. I mean, when you think of all the caffeine in a soda and think of all the caffeine in a coffee, there’s not much difference! (MCL NOTES: Good point!).
Logan’s Mom added that all the kids in MasterChef ran to the coffee pot during their first morning on the MasterChef set.
The second appliance I like is my mini food processor. I can’t live without that. I grind a lot of stuff in it!
And probably, the last appliance I can’t live without is the coffee grinder. I make my coffee using a French Press, Espresso Machine or a Drip Pot. I never use coffee pods. They taste too plastic.
MCL: Have you ever thought of giving mini workshops in the educational system? You would be a wonderful source of inspiration for young people who want to excel in the culinary arts or who wish to understand the fundamentals of good nutrition.
Logan: Well, I have already done a couple. One was at Graceland for the Healthy Heart Kids’ Picnic.
Because I won the Healthy Kids Ambassador Title which granted me the honor to visit the White House and meet President and Mrs. Obama, the Graceland staff reached out to me for their Scout program.
I set up my Healthy Kid Ambassador Booth and demonstrated to kids the number of grams in different brands of soda pop. I measured the sugar content out and put it in bags representing each brand. The kids were shocked.
Logan’s Mom said that It applies to milk as well. If you drink chocolate milk every day for a year and you replace it with white milk you will save 10 pounds of sugar a year. (MCL NOTES: Shocking statistic).
She went on to say that he will be doing a library program this Spring Break, showing kids how to make pasta.
MCL: Which episode during MasterChef Junior Season 2 was most challenging for you? How did you work to overcome the challenges?
Logan: I think the most challenging episode for me was the Signature Dish episode. Based on the results of the challenge preceding this Signature Dish challenge, I was only allowed 7 ingredients for my dish so I had to take it in another direction. I chose Asian.
It was difficult because I usually use my Signature Spice Rub and there were not enough ingredients to create it. It was very frustrating.
MCL: Who have been your strongest role models in the world of culinary arts and why?
Logan: Gordon Ramsay! He’s on all these TV shows, you see him everywhere, you instantly know who he is and – he is a really good athlete as well. He loves Iron Man challenges. He is a regular participant in the Iron Man Challenge.
He was very supportive of all the young chefs and it was very cool to have him as a mentor and as a role model.
MCL: Besides cooking, are there other activities which interest you?
Logan: I love rock climbing, I love running and I am really, really good at Laser Tag. I’ve done a lot of Laser Tag and I have beat everyone – my friends, my dad, his friends. (Ha!)
Logan’s Mom said he is really good at Rock Climbing. He is really good, has this freaky balance thing going. He started to explore rock climbing at the age of 7. He can do an expert route like the big guys.
Logan continued: “The problem with some of those routes is that they’re made for big guys, So you have to figure out how you’re going to manage them as a young kid”.
Logan’s mom said that he does do all the routes and he does them his own way, with his own technique, and he’s really good at it. (MCL NOTES: Very impressive).
MCL: Where do you see your life unfolding, Logan, in say 15 years from now? What are your dreams and aspirations? You could take on so many diverse roles – chef, author, food scientist, dietician, the possibilities are endless. Do any or all of these professions excite you?
Logan: Maybe but I am not too sure at this point. I am also interested in engineering or nuclear science, so that’s on my horizon.
Logan’s Mom said we don’t really want him pigeonholed into one thing. We want him to explore all options and keep the doors open. Sometimes the things you love when you are 12 are not necessarily what you will enjoy when you are 30. (MCL NOTES: SMART).
And since I have created my own recipes, I’m working on a cookbook and hope to publish it soon..
MCL NOTES: When Logan told me this, I told him I would happily purchase this cookbook for myself and for my grandchildren. It would be a source of inspiration to them and, perhaps, would encourage them to experiment with their cooking skills.
Further to this, I was speaking to my 9-year-old granddaughter last evening. When I told her about my interview with Logan, she was so excited. She loves MasterChef Junior and, of course, enjoyed watching Logan’s journey. She said she had some ideas of incorporating different food groups into a recipe but never tried it. So, I encouraged her to go for it! And, the next time she visits, we can work along together.
So, it looks like Logan is on the perfect road to making a difference, not only in his life, but also in the lives of others as well. Thank you Logan!
And do not forget to tune into MasterChef Junior every Tuesday at 8:00 PM on Fox. This show goes beyond a regular cooking show. It is pure, unadulterated entertainment in its finest form. Who wouldn’t want to watch kids throw pies in the judges’ faces or scurry out of the way of alligators and snakes?