'MasterChef Junior' Winner on Learning, Travel, and 99¢ Ramen

Yahoo TV

Though 13-year-old Alexander Weiss calls them "gourmet fancy froufrou type of dishes," the "MasterChef Junior" winner's culinary lexicon dwarfs our own.

His three course meal started with an appetizer of shrimp and tomato salad on black olive crostini with roasted red pepper puree and pine nut gremolata.


The entrée was a pan-seared veal chop with crispy potato gnocchi in brown butter sage sauce and baby zucchini.


Dessert was a cannoli napoleon with marscarpone cream, macerated berries, and a mixed berry sauce.


Again, Weiss is only 13!

"Of course I was overjoyed — I was never expecting that," an ebullient Weiss told Yahoo TV by phone. "Winning was a really special moment in front of my parents, my family, my friends. And it's something I'm going to cherish for the rest of my life."


To many he seemed like a frontrunner from the beginning, but that's not how he felt. "When I came into the 'MasterChef' kitchen, I was not really sure if I was an underdog or a frontrunner because I had no idea what my competition was like. But as the show progressed, I got more comfortable in the kitchen and I learned so much from the judges, trying new things."

It's not all sunshine and roses though. "My friends are all expecting high-quality food now and there's a lot of pressure on me. Whenever I go to somebody's house, they're like, "OK, you've gotta cook for me!" Now they expect a fancy, restaurant-style dish, but he loves cooking, so he deals with it.

What's next for the most famous young chef in America? "I definitely want to go to the Culinary Institute," he said. He also has plans to go to college and, of course, to someday own his own restaurant. But not yet.

"I can always look in an Italian cookbook, but going to Italy and going into a really old school bakery or restaurant, you learn hands-on and from your own eyes how things work in Italian cooking." He hopes to make it to Italy, France, Spain, and China — "I want to be as educated as I can be in one lifetime."

Dara Yu, 12, lost in the finals, but that's not slowing her down any. She's already hard at work on a YouTube channel to do cooking videos with the intent of getting others, kids and adults, to cook more. "I want to inspire," she said.

Even though they've both already accomplished so much, Weiss and Yu still have a lot to learn. Like "Why," Weiss asked, "Are ramen noodles so popular in college dorms?" "Yeah," jumped in Yu, "Why are they? My sister's in college and she's got a more sophisticated palate, but she still eats it a lot!" Some things, it turns out, no television show or culinary school will ever be able to teach you.

If you need a further reminder as to why Weiss won, here's a look back at all of the dishes he cooked on "MasterChef Junior":