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Episode # 2 – This Is Yu Podcast – MasterChef Jr

Hey Guys! In this Ep 2 of This Is Yu Podcast, we talk all about our experience with MasterChef Junior. Dara was runner up on Season 1 of Fox’s MasterChef Junior. So we give you a behind the scenes look into the audition process and what goes on behind closed doors! We also take some of your awesome questions that you have about MasterChef Junior.

https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/this-is-yu-podcast/id1493606200

Carole
Okay. Welcome to This Is Yu  Podcast Episode number 2  this is Carole Yu and Scott Stewart. We’re going to talk today about Master Chef Jr. We’re going to talk about the audition process for Season One from April through September of 2013. That’s when our family was intensely involved with that. Right?
Scott
Right you are, Carole. Let’s give them a little backstory on what exactly we’re talking about in this episode
Carole
When did we met, When was that?
Scott
oh, a long time ago. Long? Many years ago.ago.   
Carole
So when did we meet?
Scott
Approximately 10 years
Carole
So 2008 I think was when we met.
Scott
I wasn’t very good at math, so let’s stay away from that.
Carole
not. So what did you think of our family then when you met us?
Scott
Horrible awful people totally mean. The biggest thing was you guys didn’t get my jokes, so that was a really sort of, ah, bit of an eye opener for me. But you guys had kind carrying hearts, and that’s what drew me in
Carole
Any way. So I remember when my kids were in preschool, we had one of the moms ask, What’s your family about? I thought for a little bit and I said, You know what? Our family is all about creativity. During that time, my late husband was an architect. My daughter Elena. She was very into art. I also had a company where I made purses out of vintage kimono and little girls dresses made out of vintage kimono. Dara, my youngest, was really food driven. What did you think of that? When you met all of us
Scott
Brought me to tears with all the meanness in the mean spirited in your family. Know you guys were awesome. I mean, that’s why I fell in love with everybody. You guys were really outgoing. I love the creativity, cause that was ah, big part of my life. And it still is a big part of my life. It was Ah, it was a lot of fun. I mean, obviously with George passing away, there was a lot of turmoil and stress within the family dynamic. But there was a lot of love there, and you guys were a complete little creative unit with you all doing your own exciting things. I was drawn to that a lot.
Carole
Yeah, and I thought that you really fit well in because you were photographer. You are an actor. You’re a comedian. You were really creative to. So I found that it really was a good way that you’d be a good fourth to fill out the square there.
Scott
So the question is was a Ringo was I? Paul was a John was a George.
Carole
Well, not George.
Scott
I’m gonna go with John. I was the John in the family.
Carole
Okay, so you know. Okay. So Okay. Next. What we’re here to talk about today is Master Chef Jr. During that time when we met, it was a brown 2008 Dara, my youngest daughter at the time, she was six. We were watching a lot of food network. Every day after school, she and I would just sit and watch TV weekends, and we just watched Food Network all day long. We really liked good eats with Alton Brown and we had watched Chopped. We also watched a lot of the Iron Chef episodes and we really love that. Just interrupt. Yeah, sure.
Scott
So So my connection with food at that time Because I was an actor and I am an actor in Los Angeles. My connection with food basically went with this. Good evening. Welcome. Can I start you off with an Iced Tea? Okay. I’ll be right back. Hi. May I suggest the fries? The Fries? Excellent. With the umami burger. Enjoy 
Carole
Your connection with food, actually helped later on because you will talk about that later. You actually that kind of lead into the current jobs that we have now. But we’ll talk about that another time. Dara and I were watching Food Network a ton at one point after a couple of years, I told her I said, Hey, let’s play Chopped Chopped. And I gave her 30 minutes and I gave her blueberries. Here’s some flank steak. Go. 
Scott
Didn’t you tie her hands behind her back
Carole
while and blindfolded. But you know she was able to do it. Yeah,
Scott
She’s amazing with her feet. She can cook with her feet. Let me tell you, they are so amazing.
Carole
After 30 minutes being only, six or seven years old came up with seared flank steak crostini with a blueberry honey cayenne sauce. And I was like, blown away because I thought, how could a little eight year old kids 6, 7 or eight year old kid can’t remember? Exactly. But how could she think of that? It was just part of her. It was just really inherent. And I don’t know what the word is. I don’t really want to use the word prodigy, but I don’t know. So anyway, gifted
Scott
Anyway. So basically, what Carol is trying to tell you parents out there is that today you should be pulling your kids out of school, plunking them in front of the TV because there are so many amazing cooking shows that these kids can learn from. I think that’s what I’m hearing, right. Is that right?
Carole
Exactly. And it’s actually changed a lot since then, but we got married when? And we always have a debate this year.
Scott
know. We’re supposed to remember this year. This week we both forgot is like a couple days afterward, we go. Hey, didn’t we get married? didn’t we get Like you know what it was? We woke up that morning and I was looking at Facebook. Thanks. Baseball. Yeah, thanks for sure. Said congratulations. It’s your, uh what was the eighth anniversary anniversary? We looked each other. We both cracked up like Oh, yeah, of course. 
Scott
Of course I knew it. was. Thanks, Facebook. I mean Facebook. Thanks.
Carole
We were married in 2011 and Dara, who was 10 at the time she baked us this amazing cake. She made a two tiered.
Scott
Well it was our wedding cake?
Carole
Wedding cake? Yeah, Two tiered chocolate blackout cake. And she covered it with fondant and she decorated it with fondant and Marzipan lilies and roses and stuff like that. You can see photos of it on our website.
Scott
It was kind of weird because we went to a restaurant for dinner and then we brought it out afterwards and all the wait staff and the manager and stuff for gathering around going. She made that even even all the people in our party were like, who made that, Dara? And they’re like, Yeah, right, because it was crazy how good it was. Plus, it tasted really awesome.
Carole
My favorite chocolate cake
Scott
and moist. Did I mention that it was
Carole
moist? We wanted to turn that into something. Scott was at the time doing a lot of auditions and tell us about that process.
Scott
It’s awesome. If you guys have never been an actor in Los Angeles, you want to get in your car and drive here as quick as possible because it is so fantastic. Being in traffic for two hours driving up to the Valley were in Culver City and then getting in a room
Carole
in the cattle call
Scott
in a cattle call, or even just any sort of, ah, audition and looking around the room. And there’s a whole bunch of people that look like you only better looking. Go into the audition and you blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, Me, me, me, blah, blah, blah, blah. And then they go, Thanks very much. And you never hear from them again. You get back in your car and drive two hours back home.
Carole
Okay, so this is not about you, but anyway what? Why next? So how did we find out about MasterChef Junior?
Scott
Oh, yeah, Back to the story. Anyway. So I was looking through backstage for auditions, and I came across this audition for Master Chef Jr. And we had an awareness of MasterChef for adults because we had watched it. But this new thing for MasterChef Jr. It was in there, and I just simply pointed out to Carol and thought it would be really awesome for Dara.
Carole
and I At that time, I was pretty kind of still caught up in not really knowing where my life was going or where I was trying to lead my kids. I was unsure about whether to put Dara into this. I don’t know. You might remember our
Scott
Yeah. I mean, I also just want to point out, is that at that point you had been going through the passage of George, You know, the mourning of that with your family. I think there was a lot of fear in your life at that time when I presented this to you was kind of like this crazy world of acting. So it wasn’t necessarily high on your list of things for Dara to do.
Carole
Yeah, I think you showed it to me two weeks. We kind of thought about it, weren’t quite sure.
Scott
And I was pushing for it. I’m like, Yeah, I think this is an excellent opportunity for her. You were a little reluctant on it. You’re asking you’re like circle of friends and stuff like that. And then over time, it kind of disappeared.
Carole
Well, yeah. Two weeks later, after Scott had kind of convinced me to go forward with it. And we we we had some family discussions about it with Dara, and I don’t remember if she was really into it or not. Do you?
Scott
Yeah. She didn’t want to do it. She used to cry herself to sleep at nights. And I don’t want beyond Master Chef Jr. Then we made her. I’m just so glad that we had the fortitude to stick with it.
Carole
Yeah, that was another thing where we tied her hands behind her back and blindfolded her, threw her in the car. Two weeks later, we revisited it and I thought, Hey, you know, this would really be fun because seriously, Dara was really driven by food and super happy whenever she was in the kitchen like that, she could at that point, spend time in their lose track of time. We went back to look for the audition. It was, duh, duh, duh it was gone. I spent a lot of time looking for it because I actually had been a commercial actress. And so I had representation, And Dara also had been with Osbrink agency to contacted them and asked them if they’d be able to find the audition. We contacted other friends who were casting agents to see if they would be able to find the audition. Finally, after two weeks, I called backstage casting. I think I called them maybe four times after the fourth time. I think they were sick of me and they’re like, OK, let’s just get rid of this woman and just tell her the fourth person
Scott
Yeah, that’s right. That’s the guy that got fired because he gave you the information. Oh, yeah, I remember that now very clearly.
Carole
Anyway, So the fourth time, someone was really nice and they actually gave me the email for Master Chef Jr. Actually, at that time it was called Junior Master Chef. They actually did not have a name trademarked for the show yet, so they called it Junior master Chef casting I emailed off about, I think two days later I got an email and it said, By the way, this weekend, in two days, we are having an open call. An open call at a hotel in Where was it
Scott
was up in the valley.
Carole
It was where they had that earthquake starts with N Northridge. Yes. Northwich
Scott
North Bay, New Brunswick. Nantucket
Carole
Got Thank you. Okay. Shut up,
Scott
Carol. They’re gonna like me better than you. See what I mean. Anyway, I was saying earlier about you guys being so mean. That’s what I’m talking about.
Carole
We got in our car that Saturday morning at 6 30 in the morning to get to the hotel by seven clock. We got there by seven. I just figured, you know, it’s the first season of Master Chef Jr or Junior Master Chef and that there would be thousands of kids auditioning. So I wanted to get there in order to be the first in line and not have to wait all day long. And so we got there at 7 a.m. How many hours before the production company got there?
Scott
Yeah, we got there so early. The production company was even there. We walked into the hotel. Well, yeah. Where’s the Master Chef Jr Or Junior Master Chef auditions. And it was like what? We went back and hung out in our car, and we just kind of stared at the front door. And then the production company came like about an hour or two later. We hurried in, but there was a bunch of people that had already connected with MasterChef Junior. They were doing their auditions. So I think Dara went in, like, around one
Carole
o’clock or something. Yeah, because since we were kind of late to the game…
Scott
I remember we had to give her, like, three or four red bulls to keep her away because she was exhausted.
Carole
Yeah, we actually were there at seven. Other kids started showing up around nine. I think the auditions actually started at 10. Turned out that all these other kids had already submitted videos which we didn’t even know about. All, we had gotten was an  email that said Come to open call when we got there. Turns out that all these kids that had already submitted their home videos were put ahead of us. They had priority. So we had to wait. And each of the kids went into the audition in groups of 10. So we kept waiting, kept waiting. There were about, you know, 50 kids, 100 kids waiting in a room. All were waiting to get in. Finally, after waiting until 1 p.m. Dara got into the room, she told me that there were 10 other kids there, and they had to do a few things. First, they had to show that they could use a knife. They actually had to chop some pieces of celery.
Scott
But it wasn’t wasn’t her thing with the knife where they had to throw it 30
Carole
feet. Target Target with a photo of Gordon Ramsay on
Scott
Oh, that’s what it was,
Carole
anyway. So then the second part was they actually had to identify poster board photos of weird foods like porcini mushrooms, truffles
Scott
just sort of a little bit off the beaten path, like Brussels sprouts and things like that.
Carole
Third, they had to prepare an egg anyway, that they wanted to. When Dara was thinking about it, she thought, Well, what’s the most fancy way that she could prepare an egg? It was by doing the tornado method for a poached egg, which, if you don’t know, is you put vinegar in some water. You swirl the water around in a circle so it makes a tornado. And then you dropped the egg in to the cone of the tornado so that the egg yolk and egg whites stay together. So she did that, and that was her audition They also did have to of course, introduced themselves what city they were from at this time. The auditions were only in Los Angeles and in New York. And there was one kid who drove down from San Francisco. His name is Gavin. They finished that audition. They told the kids. Okay, we will let you know in two weeks.
Scott
We’ll also too. I mean, we were outside and, you know, obviously you want to know because And it’s an audition. You want to know? Hey, when you’re gonna find out and stuff like that and there’s a lot of little kids and, you know, they’re just, like, shining with their little open hearts running around, wanting to be on the show, the casting people were just going around and saying, Ah, you know, we don’t know. It’s gonna be a long time. Might be up to six weeks, but we’ll let you know, And they just It was basically just letting people down kind of easily.
Carole
Okay, so we were tired. We’ve been there for, like, I don’t know, seemed like 16 hours. We get back into the car. We’re just talking about how it went. Dara was all excited and hype. You know, we were driving back home, we’re driving onto the on ramp – Bring, Bring.
Scott
Oh, yeah, the police pulled us over because we  had a whole bunch of weed. No, no, that’s not right, MasterChef Junior. It’s a joke. Anyway, we’re in the car. The phone rings literally three minutes. Since we left the parking lot. It was the casting office
Carole
and they said Dara, we loved her and we want her to come tomorrow to the Magic Castle Hotel. She had one night to prepare to get ready for an on camera interview and demo in front of the production casting, Casting what were they called the casting production. I don’t know what they’re called.
Scott
They’re called people.
Carole
And I said she had one day. So she decided she would do that Seared flank steak crostini with the blueberry honey cayenne sauce. We had half an hour. 
Scott
well, there’s also some oddities to it because one of the things was I think we forgot sugar.
Carole
It was butter because she needed That was, but it was butter because, you know, there was no sugar, and this was except for the honey. Okay, we had for gotten butter for what? She was going to fry the crostini in the pan. And so we had to go down to the restaurant and find butter, and all they had were these little round pods of pats of butter. We had to take about 10 pats and then squeeze the butter out so that she could use it for the audition.
Scott
Yeah, exactly. And when she was in the room, I mean, the other thing that was really tricky to is cook something in an unfamiliar It’s It wasn’t really a kitchen. It was a kitchenette in a hotel room, and she had to cook there. But while she was doing that, they were interviewing her to see how good she was talking while she was doing. And she turned out to be a amazing on. It
Carole
loves to talk. She does love to talk. She’s great at talking. Erica was very warm, the Erica, the casting producer at that time. She was great at talking to Dara at the same time as she was cooking, and they actually had Jeff and some other guy. There were two camera people, and I guess one was this camera person. One was a sound person and then Erica, who was the casting person? We finished up that three. Well, they also
Scott
they also interviewed.
Carole
All right, right, that
Scott
so they took us aside. We’re just sitting in the living room kind of watching the whole thing happen. And they came over and asked us a bunch of questions, too. We just answered those questions in the best we could in English.
Carole
And then and then I remember we went out into the hallway and Erica said, Okay, so does she have allergies to anything like it seemed really weird. I didn’t understand why she was so concerned about Dara having food allergies.
Scott
Just let me interject with this. So there’s two sides of this. There’s the Master Chef Jr side. And then there’s the US side of things through this whole process, we kind of
Scott
noticed that they didn’t because it was the first season. They didn’t know exactly what they were doing. They weren’t really giving you much information as it went along. There would just be all of a sudden Hey, can you show up here at this time and you’re going OK, They wouldn’t really tell you if they like what you’re doing or anything like that. So it made it a
Scott
little tricky, You know, when we’re driving back in the car. That was just a lot of speculation on what is happening and how does this look? And it seems positive, but basically we just took it day by day, and everything sort of evolved from there,
Carole
right? But so then, along with the allergy question, she also told us that we had two days in which to put together a 5 to 7 minute home video showing all of our home our introduction into our family members Dara doing a cooking demo and then also talking about her hobbies. She said, The most important thing, which is something that all of you who are listening and who are interested in submitting your kids. It’s all about personality, you know, so important. Even if your kid is semi good at cooking, not a superstar. If they have a huge personality, that is 75% of the goal they had us put together. This audition tape, which you can see at ThisIsYu.com. We have a blog post that says how to audition for MasterChef Jr so you can get additional tips there if your kid is interested
Scott
and we actually shot the audition video in our backyard. I built outdoor photography stage just because the lighting was really nice. We decided to shoot it out there. We live on the flight path of L. A X Every 5 or7 minutes, planes go by. I think if you listen very clearly, you can hear the planes flying overhead. It’s kind of funny
Carole
after we submitted that they then, as Scott said, that you kind of never knew what was happening next. And they didn’t tell you if you were, like moving forward or what and said, You just get these mails that would say, OK, this is what we need next and you’re you’re thinking OK, does that mean that I’m moving forward? Have I gotten on the show like where we at? There came a time where Dara and I had to go in for a psychological test, so we showed up at a hotel. They put Dara in a room with some psychologist asked her a bunch of questions. I guess they were just really trying to find out if this girl was going to crack under the pressure of Gordon Ramsay yelling at the top of his lungs at her,
Scott
and I just want interject with. I scored a high high forties on my psychological test. I didn’t pass.
Carole
You don’t even go.
Scott
I got high forties and go high forties. Okay? Yeah, well, it’s pretty solid.
Carole
It was probably a couple weeks we were waiting. We weren’t sure what was happening. Then all of a sudden, a 60 page document comes into my E mail saying that, You know, you have to sign this. You have to give up your life. You have to give up Dara first child. We had to agree that she would not do any food related TV show in the next three years.
Scott
But generally when you signed a contract with a television network, it it’s a good sign that they’re very interested in you. No one really comes forward and says, Yes, you are hired. Yes, we want you is just sort of this slow, kind of meandering, day in day out thing, and then you just sort of put the pieces together. Even with that contract, I don’t think anyone said at that point you guys are hired.
Carole
just know because they didn’t even have a show. They didn’t even have a network that had accepted it. That’s the thing. So this was all done in like January February time frame. They did not even have Fox signed on to accept the show. Even though Master Chef had been on that channel, they hadn’t committed to it yet. So now it’s time for Master Chef Jr Questions, questions,
Scott
questions. We asked you guys to ask us some questions related to Master Chef Jr. And you guys stepped up to the plate and hit it out of the park. And the first question comes from Samantha in Utah.
Samantha
How old do you have to be to be on MasterChef Jr.  
Carole
The kids have to be between the ages of 8 to 13. At the time, Dara was 12 and the youngest contestant at that time was 8 If you remember, if you go back and look at Season one, there was Sarah, who was eight, and there was also Nathan, who was eight, and the oldest one was Alexander, who was 13 and Molly, who was 13
Scott
and question number 2
Carole
We have Diane from Arizona asking,  
Diane
Do Master Chef Jr contestants get paid?  
Carole
The answer is, maybe if you win Master Chef Jr you get $100,000.
Scott
The way reality shows work is they don’t have to pay you as an individual performer. If there is a prize at the end of the show, the majority of reality stars unless they’re big stars. If they’re just people unknown on there, they don’t get paid. Did you guys get per diem?
Carole
We did. We got a per diem. I think it was. I can’t remember maybe $40 a day. I think
Scott
so. That’s Latin for per day. Question Number three comes from Rose, who is from Vermont.
Rose
Do Master Chef Jr Contestants get to keep their aprons.  
Carole
The  answer is yes, Master Chef Jr Contestants get to keep their aprons, But the verbiage in that 60 page document said that we were not allowed to show anyone the apron at all or use it for anything other than Master Chef PR. So we actually had to keep the apron at home by ourselves and every time we had a PR, we would take it with us.   
Scott
  Next question comes from Nic in Florida.
Nic

What is Gordon Ramsay really like?
Scott
I met him a couple times. He’s actually awesome. He has his own kids. The kids on the show just loved him. Like when he’d come into a room. They don’t start screaming
Scott
Gordon, Gordon Gordon
Scott
and they’d run right up to him. And he really enjoyed the interaction with them because it’s such a different vibe on Master Chef. I mean, just
Scott
the camaraderie with the
Scott
kids, you know, on the Master Chef adult show. There seems like, you know, backstabbing, that kind of stuff. But with the kids, it was just joy. Like these kids had such a passion for cooking. Gordon really soaked that up. So there was a real sort of a genuine give and take. He really cared about the kids you could see on the show when they were shooting the show that they got upset when the kids were leaving the show. I mean, it was difficult because he had a family. So the short answer is he got along great with the kids. He was a really nice guy, and the times that we met him, he couldn’t have been nicer to us,
Carole
right? And you know Dara when asked, I think afterwards, in the PR that was followed up after the show, they asked her who was your favorite judge, and at the time the judges were Joe Bastianich, Graham Elliot and Gordon Ramsay. All of the kids loved Graham because they all said he was a big teddy bear. Gordon, though, was really Dara’s favorite because he really did support her. He took her under his wing, and when they did the PR, he had her follow him and be on all the interviews.
Scott
Okay, so next question Number five comes from Diane.
Diane
Where are the parents? While the kids were filming.  
Carole
While they’re filming, the parents are put into a green room, which is basically a white room with four walls and no windows. There was a large bookshelf with tons of cookbooks that the kids could look at while they were in their downtime. There were snacks on tables. There was catering that brought in food all the time. All kinds of Cheez its and chocolates and Candies and chips and all that kind of stuff. There were drinks and everything around there. There was a television set monitor the filming so that we could actually see the kids being filmed without sound.
Scott
Next question is from Rose.
Rose
How long did it take to film Dara’s season?  
Carole
We actually filmed from April 4th to about April 24th. So I think it was about three weeks that we were sequestered in a hotel without talking to our families or husbands or any social media.
Scott
It must have been nice not talking to husbands, huh? Question Number seven is from Nic. 
Nic
Those knives. are real?, right? What if they get hurt?
Carole
 They are real knives. The kids at the very beginning audition were tested. Just make sure that they knew how to use knives. And in regards  to  if they got hurt, there were probably about four medics on the set. They were always there with a first aid kit. Ready in case a kid cut themselves.
Scott
Get to the next question.
Samantha
How did Doris start wearing her red bow?
Scott
Well, it was interesting because Dara was always at that point. She was really into bows. She had all these different kinds of  bows. She had this one particular one. It was a red bow. I
Carole
It was a Hello Kitty bow
Scott
I was thinking part of the process was okay. Now she has to wear a wardrobe. What is she gonna wear? They told us that outfit her in clothes that she normally wears. And I saw her kind of in my mind’s eye being on the show. And I thought, Man, she needs something to stand out. So I thought if she wears this red bow, she’ll really stand out anywhere she is in the show because you don’t know where they’re gonna Their workspaces is. It could be at the front or could be at the back. I was just thinking, wear the Red bow. It’s kind of as simple as that.
Carole
And you know, funny thing during that filming their woman who makes a red bow lives here in Culver City, which was where we were actually filming. And during that show, the wardrobe people loved her bow, and they’re like, Do you have other colors? And I’m like, Yeah, So we actually contacted the woman that makes the bows and had her bring over a purple and a pink bow to the set.
Scott
Question number nine Rose.
Rose
Where do Master Chef Jr. Contestants stay?  
Carole
We actually were were sequestered in a Hotel Doubletree Hotel in Culver City for three weeks straight.
Scott
It was kind of funny because a lot of kids were flying in from New York. So was coming to Los Angeles, and it was exciting. Yeah, the hotel’s probably seven minutes from our house. Not so much of a big, exciting thing
Carole
it did. It did have a swimming pool. So the kids really love that every day after filming, they’d go back and lead Swim.
Scott
 Number 10 is from Samantha.
Samantha
What did Dara do after the show ended?
Scott
That’s a great question. Which we’re going to get to in the following podcast, which is going to be all the stuff we couldn’t get to on this podcast about MasterChef Junior. We have come to the end of this podcast. We would love for you to subscribe anywhere you can. Our home base is www.ThisIsYu.com It’s spelt T H I S I S YU dot com and the Y U is Carol’s last name. YU. There it is. Guys. Episode number two of This is Yu will see you in the next episode.
Carole
I don’t think we fought enough.
Scott
Yeah, We fought enough – Un Uh  We just didn’t record it all. Oh My God. Oh, see what? I have to go through. Day In, Day Out.

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