Twelve-year old Kyle Imao of Marikina was named the country’s first Junior MasterChef after leading the “Junior MasterChef Pinoy Edition” finale’s two-part cooking challenge last night (February 18) with his oyster ravioli and Asian fusion shrimp and scallops, which had the judges raving.
Kyle Imao proved his culinary supremacy over fellow kiddie cooks Philip Amarillo, Mika Tanaka, and Jobim Jalbuena with an overall score of 91.8 points in the “Junior MasterChef Pinoy Edition Finale: The Live Cook-off” at the Treston International College and took home the P1 million cash prize and P1.5 million worth of culinary scholarship.
Trailing by only 0.7 points was the Cebu native and second placer Philip (91.1 pts) who won P500,000 and P1.5 million worth of culinary scholarship. Mika (84 pts) and Jobim (73.4 pts) got third and fourth places, respectively, and were both awarded with P250,000 and P500,000 worth of culinary scholarship.
Kyle Imao burst to an early lead in the first challenge, which asked the Final Four kiddie cooks to prepare wow-worthy dishes under a P300 budget. Kyle’s astounding oyster ravioli obtained the highest average score from host Judy Ann Santos-Agoncillo, Chef Lau, Chef Ferns, and Chef Jayps, as well as the 100 special guests who sampled the Final Four’s creations live during the finale.
Due to the high scores he got from Judy Ann Santos-Agoncillo and the three judges, Kyle Imao managed to take the lead even if Mika’s chicken three-way dish captivated more people from the crowd composed of students, MMDA personnel, doctors, athletes, nurses, teachers, firemen, government employees, and businessmen.
The second challenge let loose Kyle, Philip, Mika, and Jobim in preparing their dream dishes, which required no cooking method or ingredient, in a nail-biting 30 minutes. Philip ruled this round but fell short in his final score to beat Kyle.
Aside from Judy Ann Santos-Agoncillo and the three resident judges, Via Mare restaurant owner and celebrated cook Glenda Rosales Barretto also critiqued the dream dishes and ultimately gave Kyle’s Asian fusion shrimp and scallops a perfect score of ten.
The seafood creation greatly enthralled Chef Lau, who said, “I told you before that in seven years, I want you to work for me. I’m sorry but I’m going to take that back; in seven years, I might work for you!”
The kiddie cooks’ live and final culinary battle, with the hashtag ‘#JuniorMasterFINALE,’ also became the most talked local topic on Twitter and the fourth trending topic worldwide. Filipino netizens even showed their support for their favorite kiddie cooks, flooding the micro-blogging site with terms ‘Congrats Kyle,’ ‘Go Jobim,’ and ‘Go Philip.’
Meanwhile, watch out for ABS-CBN’s local version of “MasterChef” that will showcase adult amateur and home cooks from all over the country.