Graham Elliot Dishes on Gordon Ramsay and Life Before 'MasterChef'

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Robert Chan
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On this week's MasterChef Junior, as the judges talk to the young cooks about their dreams of owning a restaurant, we get a blast from the past: A 16-year-old photo surfaces showing Gordon Ramsay with his arm around another young dreamer, Graham Elliot.

We asked Elliot what the notoriously short-tempered chef was like back then and if there was anything that Elliot would tell his younger self (that maybe certain other young chefs on a cooking show that Elliot judges might want to pay attention to).

What's the biggest difference between TV Gordon and the actual Gordon in the kitchen?
That's one of the questions I get asked most often, and my answer is always that I don't think there's a difference at all. Gordon has the ability to get the best out of people; sometimes that means being direct, sometimes putting an arm around your shoulder, sometimes making you laugh out loud.

Obviously when you're on the line during dinner service, he's going to expect the cooks to be hyperfocused and working toward excellence, but in the MasterChef kitchen, he understands that we're working with amateur home cooks, so he is very understanding of their capabilities.

Related: 'MasterChef Junior' Season 2: Cuter Kids, Tougher Challenges

What was his reputation like back then? Were you afraid of him?
Back when I first met Gordon, he was definitely to be feared but more importantly, respected. I was 21 years old and working with one of the best chefs in the world. Already, I was amazed at his work ethic and leadership abilities and was surprised to see how much of a "big kid" and a joker he was.

Contestant Logan and Judge Graham Elliot on 'MasterChef Junior'
Contestant Logan and Judge Graham Elliot on 'MasterChef Junior'

What's one mistake that you made or one piece of advice that you wish you could go back and tell yourself at that age?
I wouldn't say I made any mistakes per se, but I've always been hyperdriven and goal oriented, so I was able to achieve everything I wanted to at an early age. If I could go back and give my younger self advice, I would probably tell myself to take an extra minute to slow down and master the old techniques instead of worrying so much about the creative process.

Of the 16 cooks that started this season, who reminds you the most of yourself at that age?
That would easily be Logan. He reminds me of myself when I was younger, and I see similarities even with me now. He's creative, cooks with originality, and has an open mind when it comes to new things. It's cooks like him that make me excited to see the future of food.

MasterChef Junior airs Tuesdays at 8 p.m. on Fox.