Believe it or not, some TV series shot before the pandemic are only now being rolled out. Case in point: Fox’s “Masterchef Junior.”
The series returned March 17 for its eighth season with 16 young chefs ages 8 to 13, including Atlanta’s own A’Dan Lisaula. He shot the show in the fall of 2019 when he was only 10.
He just turned 13. “I feel like I’ve grown two feet since then,” he said, only slightly exaggerating.
At the same time, he added. “I don’t remember much. My brain is so fuzzy. I’m embarrassed to see myself cry a lot.”
He said he has changed not only in height but also attitude since the show. “When I was 10, I was a little bit cocky,” he said. “I am more humble now. I know what my limits are. And my cooking has elevated since then. I want to elevate it even more.”
A’Dan said he grew up watching “Hell’s Kitchen.” His mom, Sophia Riley, encouraged him to audition. He has been helping her cook for years and oversees dinner two or three days a week.
He currently loves making steak and mashed potatoes with asparagus. He said his dad got him into cooking while his aunt and grandmother taught him Southern cuisine.
“I have roots in Alabama,” he said. “My grandmother is an amazing cook. My mom is not. She’s come to terms with it.”
Sophia, his mom, said A’Dan is a tough critic. “I can cook enough for us to survive,” she said.
Her favorite dish her son makes is his lamp chops. “He won’t tell me his ingredients,” she said. “He wants to save it for his cookbook.”
A’Dan said since the show was taped, he can cook more Hispanic food and is a better griller.
On the first episode, Gordon Ramsay, who is much kinder on “Masterchef Junior” than “Masterchef” or “Hell’s Kitchen,” talked to A’Dan about Atlanta and that he had gone catfishing there. “They are huge!” he said.
In his first challenge, A’Dan made creamy grits and lobster, a type of seafood he had never cooked before so on screen he said he had to guess how long to cook it. “Seafood is very delicate to cook with,” he said.
“You’re cooking with such confidence,” Ramsay later said.
A’Dan has ambitious plans to open multiple restaurants. When he was 10, he told Fox he wanted to open a vegan restaurant. He now wants to also open a place where he hires ex-convicts.
He felt most connected with judge Aarón Sanchez. “He’s like a nicer version of Gordon Ramsay,” A’Dan said. “He’s Hispanic. I am, too.”
A’Dan said he came into the show wanting to focus on his cooking and not making friends. But he made friends anyway. “We shared recipes,” he said. “We helped each other elevate our own dishes.”