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Tuesday, July 23, 2024

Marion firefighter’s son finishes runner-up in MasterChef Junior

MasterChef Junior contestants
MASTERCHEF JUNIOR: L-R: Contestants Michael, Bryson and Remy 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.

Michael Seegobin, the son of a Marion County firefighter who made the community proud with a spirited performance during this season of MasterChef Junior, finished runner up during the show’s finale this week.

The second part of the two-episode season finale of MasterChef Junior aired on FOX on Monday, May 20 at 8 p.m.

The episode kicked off with the young chefs putting the finishing touches on the second course of a three-course meal final challenge.

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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.

For his entrée, Seegobin made a pan-seared halibut with sautéed purple kale, ginger-glazed Thumbelina carrots, and spicy herb sauce.

“Young man, visually it’s elegant. I just love the colors, because visually its got that rainbow effect,” said judge Gordon Ramsay about the dish. “I think you took a massive risk tonight. Halibut is not a fish that is easy to pull off, because it just goes dry. To cook this tonight for the first time, hat’s off young man.”

Michael Seegobin works on a dish
MASTERCHEF JUNIOR: Contestant Michael in the “Finale Pt. 2” season finale episode of MASTERCHEF JUNIOR airing Monday, May 20 (8:00-9:02PM) ET/PT on FOX. CR: Greg Gayne. © 2024 FOX Media LLC.

After tasting the halibut, Ramsay said it was “cooked beautifully,” before saying the carrots were a bit “undercooked.” Although he said the herb sauce was a bit “acidic,” Ramsay commented that Seegobin “nailed” the preparation of the fish.

“This dish was stunningly beautiful and it paid off in flavor,” said judge Daphne Oz about Seegobin’s dish.

While the judges discussed who they believed won the second round, judge Aarón Sánchez threw his support behind Seegobin.

Michael Seegobin
MASTERCHEF JUNIOR: Contestant Michael in the “Finale Pt. 2” season finale episode of MASTERCHEF JUNIOR airing Monday, May 20 (8:00-9:02PM) ET/PT on FOX. CR: Greg Gayne. © 2024 FOX Media LLC.

“I think Michael, hands down [won this round], for the courage and boldness of flavor,” said Sánchez of Seegobin’s dish.

“Bryson and Remy are amazing cooks. But every dish I put out is really good,” said Seegobin during a brief interview between segments. “The judges like my flavor. I just got to kick it into gear for this dessert and bring it home.”

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MASTERCHEF JUNIOR: Contestant Michael in the “Finale Pt. 2” season finale episode of MASTERCHEF JUNIOR airing Monday, May 20 (8:00-9:02PM) ET/PT on FOX. CR: Greg Gayne. © 2024 FOX Media LLC.

For the third and final course of the meal, the chefs cooked up desserts. Citing his home state, Seegobin decided to make an orange olive oil pound cake with a citrus sauce and a crème fresh ice cream.

While he was baking his cakes, Seegobin ran into a speed bump when the cakes came out of the oven a little undercooked. It was one of the first times in the show that the young chef visibly showed emotion after experiencing adversity.

As he wiped away tears, he was approached by one of the judges.

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MASTERCHEF JUNIOR: Contestant Michael in the “Finale Pt. 2” season finale episode of MASTERCHEF JUNIOR airing Monday, May 20 (8:00-9:02PM) ET/PT on FOX. CR: Greg Gayne. © 2024 FOX Media LLC.

“Hey bud. You’re okay. You have done incredible work in this kitchen. We’re so proud of you. Just breath, okay? You’re doing great,” said Oz.

After finishing the cakes once more in the oven and glazing them, Seegobin used liquid nitrogen to make his crème fresh ice cream.

During the ensuing taste test, the judges had high praise for Seegobin, but took special note of his “tremendous” ambition.

“Michael, I think that you did a really good job to try and get all of these elements on the plate, because it is a tricky thing to do,” said judge Tilly Ramsay.

When judge Gordon Ramsay cut into Seegobin’s pound cake, he commented that it was a “little dry.”

“I’m just shocked that you’d take so many risks and you’re sort of balancing on a high wire with no safety net,” said Ramsay. “The ice cream and the glaze is delicious.”

The judges also were appreciative of Seegobin’s efforts throughout the finale to incorporate ingredients from his home state.

“I’ll tell you what I really appreciate, is that you’re from Florida and citrus is so key there, and you chose to focus on that and connect where you’re from to your dessert, so good job,” said Sánchez.

In the end, although he may have come up short of victory, the young chef showed that he was among the most talented on the show, regularly earning immunity and winning prizes in weekly challenges.

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

Throughout the season, Seegobin won nearly every episode, regularly earning immunity and lavish prizes, including an all-expenses-paid trip for his family to Mexico.

Seegobin’s father, Deen, works for Marion County Fire Rescue and was in attendance with his family during the finale. He praised his son’s effort to incorporate Floridian and Trinidadian flavors into his dishes throughout the finale and the entire season.

“He is willing to explore any type of food,” said Deen. “I am very proud of him and I just want him to do his best wherever he takes it.”

With the MasterChef Junior experience under his belt, the young chef’s journey is just getting started. To keep up with his culinary journey, follow Michael Seegobin on Instagram.