Kid chefs come to Packard

For those who go to see MasterChef Junior Live at Packard Music Hall on Saturday, no, your eyes aren’t deceiving you.

Liya Chu of New York was 10 years old when she won season 8 of the FOX competitive reality series that aired earlier this year and had to face hot-tempered chef Gordon Ramsay at the judges’ table.

Those episodes actually were filmed before the COVID-19 pandemic started, so Liya was 13 years old when viewers saw her win the competition, and she’s 14 now as a participant on the 25-city live tour.

“It was kind of funny seeing me on screen after three years,” Liya said during a telephone interview from a tour stop in Van Wert. “I’m in high school now. That was middle-school me. It’s definitely funny but something I’ll always cherish.”

The stakes aren’t as high on tour as they were on the show, when Liya was battling 15 other children ages 8 to 13 for the $100,000 grand prize.

On tour, Liya is joined by season 8 runner-up Grayson Price and fan favorites Molly Leighninger and A’Dan Lisaula as they will take part in different competitions similar to the ones seen on television, include appetizer and dessert challenges as well as a “mystery box” challenge.

Those in the audience may get a chance to be a sous chef for the young competitors or judge their dishes.

“It’s fun, messy challenges,” Liya said. “We’re just here to have fun and do a very family-friendly show.”

Liya’s parents own restaurants, and she spent plenty of time in their kitchens and greeting customers. However, doing the television show definitely improved her kitchen skills, she said, from increasing her chopping speed with a knife to curing her fear of hot oil.

She continued to work in her family’s restaurants — and keep the secret that she won “MasterChef Junior” — during the pandemic, especially when they had catering jobs and delivered meals to hospital workers.

Lily said she definitely would say yes if she were asked to appear on “MasterChef” again, and culinary school may be in her future.

“(Before ‘MasterChef Junior,’) I already had in mind (studying) something related to art,” she said. “Culinary also is a type of art. I’m definitely going down this route, I just don’t know what kind of art.”

If you go …

WHAT: MasterChef Junior Live!

WHEN: 7 p.m. Saturday,

WHERE: Packard Music Hall, 1703 Mahoning Ave. NW, Warren

HOW MUCH: Tickets range from $35 to $75 and are available at the Packard box office and through Ticketmaster.


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