IN THE SPOTLIGHT WITH WENDY THOMPSON – DC metro kids Elijah and Zarah talk about competing for Gordon Ramsay’s MasterChef prize


December 6, 2023
Mariah Cain
Staff Writer
In the Spotlight with Wendy Thompson

Photos: By Wendy Thompson and DC Spotlight Newspaper
Video: By Mariah Cain and DC Spotlight Newspaper

DC Spotlight’s Editor-in-Chief Wendy Thompson sat down with Zarah and Elijah (last names withheld for privacy), two of the contestants on Chef Gordon Ramsay’s “MasterChef Junior: Home for the Holidays” television special, airing on December 10th and 11th on FOX. Elijah and Zarah are kids chefs who will appear on the show and compete for the grand prize of $25,000.  Chef Ramsay will welcome nine young culinary contestants to cook up seasonal delights themes that include Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, Lunar New Year and more. During the DC Spotlight interview, we decided to test the kids’ pop culture knowledge and threw a trivia contest of our own. The interview took place just outside Washington, D.C. at the National Harbor in Oxon Hill, Maryland.

WENDY THOMPSON: Tell me a little bit about yourself, how did you get into cooking? 

ZARAH: I’m Zarah and I’m ten years old. My mom is like a wonderful cook and I used to always love to be around the kitchen when I was younger, so when I was about three my mom started teaching me some stuff about cooking.

ELIJAH:  I’m Elijah and I’m ten years old. When I was three years old, my mom introduced me to cooking and I started helping her around the kitchen and around the age of six I was able to make different dishes in the kitchen by myself without any help. One of my favorite early memories of cooking is making pancakes with my abuelita.

WENDY THOMPSON: What is your favorite dish to cook?

ELIJAH: My favorite dish to cook is . . . it depends I like trying new dishes from all around the world but I would say my all-time favorite is probably a shrimp moqueca, which is like this Brazilian shrimp stew and it’s amazing with white rice. 

ZARAH: My favorite thing to make is steak and anything with cheese, like mac and cheese.

WENDY THOMPSON: Which one are you best at?

ZARAH: Mac and cheese. I have like a secret special ingredient that I put inside my mac and cheese.

WENDY THOMPSON: What about you Elijah, which one are you best at?

ELIJAH: I’m not really sure, I think my best that I’m good at is probably chocolate soufflé.

WENDY THOMPSON: Chocolate soufflé? Oh my gosh. That is amazing. So, what do you do in your spare time when you’re not cooking? You guys are chefs but what do you do in your spare time?

ZARAH: Most of the time I’m doing auditions or I might be reading a book or watching TV. Well, most of the time I’m always cooking but I like doing like homework and reading.

ELIJAH: I like to do a variety of stuff, I would say I normally like to watch TV or I’m a big fan of airplanes so I like to research on airplanes and like write books or essays.

WENDY THOMPSON: You write books and essays?

ELIJAH: Yes, but I don’t really publish the books they’re just like little paper books for me to keep because I like to go back in them and see like my facts about everything.

WENDY THOMPSON: What do you think you’re going to be doing in the future? As you get older, do you see yourself opening a restaurant?

ZARAH: Yes, I actually own my own business. 

WENDY THOMPSON: You own a business now?

ZARAH: Yeah. I sell cookies with my brother. So I’m hoping to become like an actress and a chef and open like one of my own restaurants.

WENDY THOMPSON: An actress, a chef, and a restaurant owner?

ZARAH: Yes. 

WENDY THOMPSON: What are you going to do Elijah?

ELIJAH: I’m hoping to be a private chef and when I get older in my free time I want to fly airplanes.

WENDY THOMPSON: You want to fly airplanes?


WENDY THOMPSON: Gordon Ramsay has a show that you guys are going to be on on Dec. 10 and you’re going to be in a cooking contest. Are you going to be nervous watching it because you guys have already shot it, right? Or are you going to be excited?

ZARAH: I’m going to be a mix of both but mostly nervous because I don’t know how it’s going to turn out. I hope it turns out really good. 

ELIJAH: I’m going to be nervous but also very excited because I’m not sure if I like did everything so I’m very nervous to like see myself but I’m also very excited because like I want to see myself on TV.

WENDY THOMPSON: You’ve never seen yourself on TV before?


WENDY THOMPSON: That definitely will be exciting. So, if you had one question that you could ask Gordon Ramsay, what would you ask him?

ZARAH: Do you have any secret ingredients that you put into your food?

WENDY THOMPSON: What would you ask him, Elijah?

ELIJAH: How did you become a great chef? I need your secret recipe. 

WENDY THOMPSON: That’s good. In this contest that you guys entered, the winner is getting $25,000. What would you do if you win the $25,000?

ZARAH: I would mostly put it inside of my college account. I would probably get a new dirt bike or something. I’m going to buy like all of my school stuff with it and get like extra things so that I can keep up with my work.

ELIJAH: I think I would donate half to charity and then the rest I would invest or save in my college fund for like a later time.

Sunday, December 10 and Monday, December 11 (8:00-10:00 PM ET/PT) on FOX Television, next day on Hulu.

Judges Gordon Ramsay, his daughter Tilly Ramsay, Aarón Sánchez and Daphne Oz will crown a winner, who takes home the ultimate holiday gift: a $25,000 grand prize, a Viking Kitchen package and one-of-a-kind MasterChef snow globe trophy.
And this holiday season, each junior chef will leave with a kitchen-related prize, including a Viking Kitchen package for the runner-up.


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