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Thursday, May 30, 2024

Local chef’s Florida roots shine through seafood dishes in MasterChef Junior finale

During a cook-off in front of friends and family on the first part of the MasterChef Junior finale, young chef Michael Seegobin incorporated his Floridian and Trinidadian roots into seafood dishes that wowed the judges.

Seegobin competed alongside two other young chefs during the first part of the finale, which aired on Monday, May 13, at 8 p.m. on FOX. At the onset of Monday’s episode, the show highlighted Seegobin’s journey through the competition.

“When I came into this MasterChef kitchen, I wanted to really step up my game,” said Seegobin. “I wanted to start making better food, better presentations. I really wanted to elevate my cooking.”

That’s exactly what the young chef did.

Seegobin won almost every episode this season, regularly earning immunity and prizes like an all-expenses-paid trip for his family to Mexico.

“Unlike my competitors, I’ve been in the top every time besides one time and I was in the middle,” said Seegobin.

MasterChef Junior contestants
MasterChef Jr Contestants Michael (left), Bryson (middle), and Remy (right) (Photo: Greg Gayne. © 2024 FOX Media LLC)

Seegobin, whose father, Deen, works for Marion County Fire Rescue, was in attendance and had nothing but praise for his son.

“He is willing to explore any type of food,” said Deen, who said he was “impressed” that his son was able to incorporate Trinidadian flavors into his dishes throughout the season. “I am very proud of him and I just want him to do his best wherever he takes it.”

During the cook-off portion, the young chefs cooked up the beginning of a three-course meal with a menu crafted entirely by the chefs themselves.

Echoing his roots from both the Sunshine State and Trinidad, Seegobin decided to make a crab bisque and a stone crab salad for his starters.

MASTERCHEF JUNIOR Contestant Michael in the Finale Pt. 1 episode of MASTERCHEF JUNIOR airing Monday May 13 800 902PM ETPT on FOX. CR Greg Gayne. © 2024 FOX Media LLC.
Michael Seegobin competes in the MasterChef Junior finale (Photo: Greg Gayne. © 2024 FOX Media LLC)

“I really wanted to dig out my family roots of Florida and Trinidad. So I really wanted to bring those flavors in, really focus on Fresh seafood and challenge myself,” said Seegobin.

After trying his soup and salad, each judge praised Seegobin for his ability to make a bisque in the 1-hour timeframe that the contestants were limited to for the first course.

“Young man, we asked for elegance and it looks beautiful,” said chef Gordon Ramsay about Michael’s dish. “The crab bisque is delicious…I’m just so happy you got this done in 60 minutes. It’s really good.”

MASTERCHEF JUNIOR: Contestant Michael in the “Finale Pt. 1” episode of MASTERCHEF JUNIOR airing Monday, May 13 (8:00 9:02PM) ET:PT on FOX. CR: Greg Gayne. © 2024 FOX Media LLC. (1)
Seegobin was called to flambé during part 1 of the MasterChef Junior finale, which aired on FOX on Monday. (Photo: Greg Gayne. © 2024 FOX Media LLC)

For the second course, Seegobin began preparing a pan-seared halibut, sautéed purple kale, ginger-glazed Thumbelina carrots, and an herm-lime sauce.

Chef Ramsay asked Seegobin why he was choosing such a “tricky, difficult” fish to cook.

“Because it’s a really hard fish to cook and I really want to master it,” said Seegobin.

As the chefs prepared their entrees, chef Ramsay made special note of the difficulty in preparing halibut and expressed concern over Seegobin’s choice.

“I am slightly worried about Michael because he’s so overambitious and I don’t want that pressure to put him in trouble tonight,” said Ramsay during the broadcast.

Contestant Michael Gordon Ramsay and Tilly Ramsay in the Finale Pt. 1 episode of MASTERCHEF JUNIOR airing Monday May 13 8 00 9 02PM ETPT on FOX. CR Greg Gayne. © 2024 FOX Media LLC 3
MASTERCHEF JUNIOR: L-R: Contestant Michael, Gordon Ramsay and Tilly Ramsay in the “Finale Pt. 1” episode of MASTERCHEF JUNIOR airing Monday, May 13 (8:00-9:02PM) ET/PT on FOX. (Photo: Greg Gayne. © 2024 FOX Media LLC)

The judges all encouraged Seegobin, with one commenting that he was taking a “big risk” for a “big reward.”

The episode ended on a cliffhanger and will continue next week when the judges try all of the young chefs’ entrees.

Now, Seegobin will look to continue his hot streak next week during the “most competitive and intense Junior finale” that the show has ever seen, according to Ramsay.

“MasterChef Junior kitchen has unlocked my inner beast. I am like a lion right now, roarrrrr, and I am ready to win,” said Seegobin during the episode.

Michael Seegobin will now look to claim the title of MasterChef Junior during next week’s final episode. To support him on his quest to win the show, tune into the next episode of MasterChef Junior on FOX on Monday, May 20 at 8 p.m.

To keep up with the young chef’s culinary journey, follow Michael Seegobin on Instagram.