FLEMING ISLAND – For many kids, track, soccer, acting, photography, videography, blogging and of course, school, might be enough. For 14-year-old Lakeside Junior High eighth grader, Camson Alevy, though, his interests took him to those places and more, including the hit TV show, MasterChef Junior.
MasterChef Junior is a Fox reality show where 24 contestants, ages 8 to 13, compete for $100,000 in an array of cooking challenges where each dish made is judged by three world-renowned chefs. This season’s chefs are Christina Tosi, Joe Bastianich and yes, you guessed it, Gordon Ramsay. Season 6 of the show premiered March 2 with two episodes and has since aired two more. While Alevy couldn’t speak too much on when exactly these episodes were shot, he was able to shine some light on the it.
“I was on MasterChef Junior recently, which has been airing for the last few weeks and it’s been so much fun to watch,” Alevy said, as he prepared the sauce for a shrimp and ricotta tortellini dish at his Fleming Island home. “I don’t know if I can tell you how long ago we shot [the episodes] but I was definitely a bit younger.”
Alevy began cooking a few years ago but was always in the kitchen growing up. Alevy’s dad, David Alevy, said all of his kids were in and out of the kitchen at a young age but as they started to grow up, they began doing more in the kitchen, with his son Camson taking the most interest in it.
“Camson, because of his age, was around the kitchen at a time when my family as a whole really got into cooking,” David said. “He saw us doing it more and as a result, began cooking more with us.”
Camson Alevy’s journey to MasterChef Junior began with a few casting calls in a Jacksonville hotel where he was asked to cook an egg, cut celery and measure a cup of water. Alevy believes these easy tasks were used to weed out some of the weaker cooks trying to compete.
From there, would-be contestants had to make more and more complex dishes until eventually, they made it into the Top 40. The Top 40 kids can be seen on the two-hour premiere that aired a few weeks ago. There, they competed for a spot in the Top 24 and a coveted white Masterchef Junior apron.
“I made it into the top 24 and the rest, you can watch on the show,” Alevy said, through a cheek-to-cheek smile while wearing his MasterChef Junior apron.
Once Alevy made it onto the show, his dishes would be judged by a chef he’s watched on TV for years – Chef Gordon Ramsay, the person behind the recipe for the tortellini Alevy is cooking. Despite knowing his track record on TV – for the unfamiliar, some might say Ramsay has a bit of a temper – Alevy had a great time cooking with and in front of Ramsay.
“It was stressful because he’s obviously Gordon Ramsay and you know how he is, but he was pretty chill with us kids,” Alevy said, cutting circles out of the pasta he just made by hand. “He had his outbursts every once in a while, but most of the time he was a lot more chill with us and instead of trying to knock us down, he showed us how to get better.”
Alevy’s dad, a Ramsay fan himself, wasn’t too worried about the more adult side of Ramsay’s other shows, such as Hell’s Kitchen where the Brit uses words not typically used with children.
“I figured that he would be probably pretty nice to the kids and he definitely was nicer and more gentle with the kids,” David Alevy said. “Camson said you kind of got to see the more father side of him and watching the show, you can definitely see that.”
For Camson Alevy, cooking is a way to be creative while also tapping into one of his passions – food. He one day hopes to make a career out of cooking but not necessarily as a chef.
“I kind of want to meld my passions together,” the younger Alevy said. “I think I want to bring my food and photography together and maybe do food photography, or maybe make food commercials, but I also would like, because I’m such a big foodie, to be a food critic because I think it would be awesome to go eat and see if it’s matching the standards of what it should be.”
There are moments, though, where Alevy isn’t cooking and just because he isn’t cooking, doesn’t mean he’s not busy.
A normal week for Alevy consists of soccer, track, photography, videography and more, which according to Alevy, is a point of stress in his life sometimes. He often finds himself crunching time to do everything he wants to do but despite the stress it can bring him, he welcomes it. He said stress is a source of education about priorities and time management. Simply put, slowing down isn’t something on his plate.
Despite his elevated taste buds, Alevy still feels like a normal kid when he’s presented with a dish. He’s just more aware of what he’s about to eat.
“I’m a bit more particular about what I think is good and what’s not good,” Alevy said, as he finished plating his pasta dish, presenting a plate not unlike those seen in a Michelin star restaurant. “I think I used to overestimate how good stuff was sometimes but I’d say most of the time, I’m just a regular kid eating except I like to be a bit more adventurous.”