Junior chef knocked out of competition semifinals

Abby Major

Salmon can be a fickle fish.

Just two weeks after garnering praise from judges for her perfectly cooked broiled salmon, an overcooked salmon filet was what dropped Abby Major, 8, out of contention Tuesday night.

Abby, a fourth-grader at the Powhatan School in Boyce, was a contestant on “MasterChef Junior” this season. The Fox reality cooking show pits 16 kids from ages 8 to 12 years old in a series of challenges for a chance to win $100,000.

In an episode all about mastering one of the kitchen’s toughest proteins, the final four junior chefs were challenged to break down an Alaskan king salmon and prepare as many perfectly cut filets as they could within 30 minutes. The two winners from the episode would proceed to the final competition next week.

The winner of the first challenge chose how many ingredients each contestant had access to during the episode’s main challenge, which tasked the chefs with creating a dish using their best salmon filets within 45 minutes.

A fridge stocked with 100 ingredients, the most of the four, was designated for Abby, who spent about as much time running back and forth to gather more ingredients as she did preparing her salmon.

Presenting her mango and orange glazed salmon with a carrot puree, Abby admitted she was “a little” confused by the 100 ingredients she had to work with.

Celebrity chef and “MasterChef Junior” judge Gordon Ramsay said the salmon tasted dry.

“The puree is delicious, but this dish, I don’t have a lot of excitement, because you’ve done so much better,” he said. ” … This dish is not your best salmon dish.”

Despite Abby’s mistake, Ramsay said he was still impressed by her talent at her age.

“You amaze me every time,” he said. “Every night you turn up here, you amaze me. You know that, right?”

Two contestants, including Abby, were eliminated from the semifinals Tuesday night, and two more remain in the season finale next week.

“This is the biggest opportunity I’ve ever had,” Abby said, after finding out her fate. “At least I made something that has ‘finals’ at the end.”

The season finale of “MasterChef Junior” airs at 8 p.m. Tuesday on Fox.

Contact staff writer Ryan Cornell at 540-465-5137 ext. 164, or rcornell@nvdaily.com