Sag Harbor Contestant To Compete On 'MasterChef' Junior | Southampton, NY Patch

2022-05-14 22:05:29 By : Mr. CHENG-WEI WANG

SOUTHAMPTON, NY — A 13-year-old from Sag Harbor is set to don the signature white apron and make her debut on "MasterChef Junior", Season 8, which premieres Thursday, March 17 on FOX.

Eva Achuthan Kozar is one of 16 young chefs chosen from across the country showcasing their culinary skills and vying for the title of MasterChef Junior through a series of challenges.

The Top 16 junior chefs, between the ages of 8 and 13, receive the coveted white apron and must prove that they deserve to stay in the game by completing their first mystery challenge of the season, a release said.

Judges and mentors in Season Eight include world- renowned chef Gordon Ramsay, acclaimed chef Aarón Sánchez and wellness advocate, author and new judge Daphne Oz. The three culinary heavyweights will determine which pint-sized home cook will be named America's next MasterChef Junior, taking home a trophy and $100,000 in prize money.

"Season Eight will feature even more unique and messy challenges for the judges and chef-testants, including cooking a meal for diners at a historical renaissance fair, participating in a WWE-themed episode, competing to see how they size up to monster trucks at a motocross track, and welcoming Gordon's daughter, Tilly Ramsay, into the kitchen for a donut challenge," the release said.

The entire Season 8 was shot pre-pandemic, when Eva was still 11 years old.

Eva, whose bio says her signature dish is roasted shrimp salad with roasted yellow and red peppers, and whose culinary dream is to own a 3-star Michelin restaurant, spoke with Patch about her journey to national television.

A student at the Hayground School in Bridgehampton, Eva said her love of cooking was instilled by her family. She's watched "MasterChef Junior" for years and said she's been inspired by watching masters such as Ramsey display their culinary prowess.

When asked what her own favorite dishes to whip up were, Eva said she loves to bake — especially apple pies.

The moment when food first captured her heart was when she visited her grandparents in Croatia and they made her Scampi Buzara, rich with garlic, onions, and tomato sauce. "It's really delicious," she said.

The meal, she said, symbolizes home and family and is one of the first things she looks forward to when she visits her mother's Lana Kozar's family in Croatia.

When she cooks at home, Eva enjoys preparing seafood, including salmon — and gathering in the kitchen with her family to prepare meals.

And, she said, for years she's watched not only "MasterChef Junior," but the "Great British Baking Show," never knowing that one day she'd be a contestant herself on a cooking competition.

Describing her audition for "MasterChef Junior," Eva said she sent in a series of audition videos.

"I had to send a video of me, cooking something," she said. "It was fun — I got to explain what I was cooking and what I was doing."

After sending in her videos, Eva was interviewed on-screen, and then, she was called to Los Angeles — the first time she'd ever been to the City of Angels.

"It was super exciting," she said. "I loved it."

Working with famous chefs, she said, was "absolutely amazing," but also a bit nerve-wracking, meeting world-famous chefs.

"When you meet them in person, you're nervous, but then, they're so nice, and so excited to work with you," Eva said. "It was just an amazing experience."

The experience of competing on-air, Eva said, was invaluable. "It taught me to be creative with my cooking, to see that the easiest thing to do isn't always the best — to step outside the box and always try new things. To push yourself."

And, she added, the "MasterChef Junior" journey also instilled forever life lessons, teaching her how to keep a cool head in stressful situations — and, when there's no time to prepare, to come up with something using ingenuity, creativity, and adaptability.

Back at home in Sag Harbor, her friends and family are excited for Eva's television debut, she said.

When she's not cooking, Eva loves to draw and enjoys sports and spending time with her friends.

While she's not sure yet if she'll be a chef when she's older or will attend culinary school, Eva said there's one thing about which she's certain: "I definitely want to incorporate cooking into the rest of my life. I'll make sure I'm always able to cook for family or friends."

For other young people who have a dream but might feel they are too young to pursue their passions, Eva said: "I would tell them to do it. Reach for the stars. The younger you do it, the more experience you get. Always take the chance whenever y0u get one because you never know when a chance is going to come around again. If you love something, do it. And if it doesn't work out, at least you tried."

Told that she sound wise for her years, Eva said, "I learned a lot from the show."

The fun is set to start when the show debuts: In the premiere episode, "Punch And Munch . . . the pint-sized contestants must punch a hole through a wall of mystery ingredients, and make a dish featuring the item in their respective squares," the release said.

"MasterChef Junior" premieres on March 17 and airs on Thursdays from 8 p.m. to 9 p.m. ET/PT on FOX.