Congratulations to 12-year-old chef Logan Guleff. Logan, who resides in Midtown, was the winner of FOX’s reality TV show, MasterChef Junior 2. He beat out 16 other kid contestants to walk away with the show’s $100,000 grand prize. The season finale aired last night (December 16th) on FOX.
I met up with Logan and his mom, Kim, at Muddy’s Grind House on Cooper earlier this week to talk about his TV experience and what it was like to meet his idol, chef Gordon Ramsay. Ramsay, along with chefs Joe Bastianich and Graham Elliot, were the three judges of the junior chef competition. In this reality program, kids match wits by completing culinary challenges to advance to the finals.
In person, Logan is quick-witted, has a killer smile, and knows how to keep a secret. Since the show had been taped in Los Angeles over seven weeks earlier this fall, both he and his mother already knew the outcome. But they didn’t tip their hand, although there might have been some giggling at times.
I asked him if it was difficult to think on your feet and work against the clock to prepare each challenge. “Not really,” he replies. “Even when you’re messing in the kitchen, there’s still the tick-tock of the clock. After all, you don’t have all day to cook dinner!”
Much of Logan’s success has come from experimenting in the kitchen. He’s learned how to cook eggs and Beef Wellington from watching YouTube videos. And as a fan of Gordon Ramsay, he’s seen the Kitchen Nightmares series as well as many of Ramsey’s videos.
As for meeting the popular chef? Logan seemed a bit star-struck, though the contestants weren’t allowed to fraternize with the chefs off-camera. (Producers don't want favoritism to color the chefs decisions.) “They were just trying to inspire the kids,” says Kim.
While Ramsey is known for being tough, he showed his tender side in one segment when a flank steak Logan prepared fell short. Disappointed, he briefly lost his composure. But Ramsey quickly gave him a hug and told him how to work through the problem. "I'm very much a perfectionist," he admits. "If a dish is to go on a restaurant menu, then it needs to be perfect."
Logan lives in Midtown where he is homeschooled by his mother and blogs about the Memphis food scene. And this isn't the first time his cooking has received notice. At age 10, a sandwich he created called Tuna Schooners (an Asian-inspired turkey burger that incorporates all four food groups) won him a trip to the White House through Michelle Obama's Healthy Lunchtime Challenge. As the Tennessee delegate, he and 50 other students dined at the White House and met the President and First Lady.
Pick up the January issue of Memphis Parent magazine, where we profile Logan as part of our Can-Do Kid series.