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(Photo © 2024 Greg Gayne/FOX Media LLC)

Chatting with "MasterChef Junior" Judge Tilly Ramsay!

Written by Skylar Zachian. Published: March 04 2024


The first episode of "MasterChef Junior" Season 9 premieres tonight (March 4) on FOX, and we couldn’t be more excited! This season, Gordon Ramsay, Aarón Sánchez, and Daphne Oz are joined by a new judge… Tilly Ramsay!




In preparation for tonight’s episode, we chatted with Tilly about her experience working with 12 talented 8-13 year olds as they competed for the title of "MasterChef Junior", the official trophy, and $100,000 grand prize. Read the full interview below to learn more about Tilly and the exciting season in store!


YH: A few years back, you headed “Matilda and the Ramsay Bunch”, a show aimed at young audiences. Now, you are making your judging debut with "MasterChef Junior". What is it that you like best about working with and creating cooking content for kids?

TR: I always knew from a very young age that I wanted to have a career related to food. When I was on holiday from school, I used to go sit on the side of the set and just watch Dad [Gordon Ramsay] cook. I love working with kids because I can share the passion that was shared with me. "Matilda and the Ramsay Bunch" was a great show because it was aimed at getting people into cooking. The focus ranged from simple dishes to slightly more hard-core dishes, but they were all able to be replicated at home. Getting young people involved and excited about cooking was always the aim. 


YH: You’ve made appearances on cooking shows with your dad before, but never for a full season of co-judging. How would you describe the dynamic of working alongside your dad on "MasterChef Junior"?

TR: Working with my dad was a bit of a dream come true. Him and I, we are so similar. Mum always says I’m a mini version of him. We do like to tease each other a lot, that’s a big part of our relationship. We go over to the kids and dad tries to embarrass me, I try to embarrass him back. But I think I definitely did bring out a softer side of him, being there next to him and saying, “Remember, they’re just kids.” But he also loves working with kids. He taught me to cook and a lot of everything I know is from him and my mom, so it’s nice seeing these kids learn in the same way that I did. It was a bit of a full circle moment passing on what I’ve learned to these kids just as my dad did to me. 


( © 2024 Greg Gayne/FOX Media LLC)


YH: What were some stand-out moments from this season?

TR: One of the best challenges for me was where the kids had a mystery box with ingredients they didn’t like. They had to incorporate these foods into their dishes, and some of the contestants would turn around and say, “Actually, I do like it now!” They were able to cook it in a way that they enjoyed. Then there was this challenge that was a cook-along with my dad. That was an intense one to watch because he goes a million miles an hour. And the kids would shout to each other, “He said do this!”, pointing out different steps that they might have missed. It was great to see that kind of teamwork. I also loved the Harlem Globetrotters challenge. Being able to be with the Harlem Globetrotters was just something else.


YH: In the Harlem Globetrotters Challenge, the contestants got to cook for the Globetrotters themselves. What was that experience like?

TR: That was a tough challenge for the kids because they had to cook for different dietary requirements and they had to make sure they were providing a nutritional meal for athletes. But it was also a team challenge, so you see the kindness and passion between the kids when they work together. And then we got to sit down and eat this delicious food with the Globetrotters. That is something I’ll remember forever. 


YH:  Were there any particular ingredients you were excited to see contestants using? 

TR: Yes! There was this one "Under the Sea Challenge" which was all based around fish. I was amazed to see these kids cooking these pieces of fish in such exotic and great ways. Fish is a hard thing to cook. It’s so delicate, and you need to be really precise. If the fish is undercooked, you can’t eat it. If it’s overcooked, it’s not enjoyable, it’s dry. Some people were deep-frying, some were finishing it off in the oven. The way they were able to cook it to such perfection was a great thing to see.


YH: How would you describe yourself as a "MasterChef Junior" judge in 3 words? 

TR: I’d like to think I’m quite kind, passionate, and relatable.


YH: How would you describe the energy of this 9th season in 3 words?

TR: Fast-paced, intense, and super fun — you can’t not smile while you're watching it!


YH: Is this really the “messiest, craziest, most-competitive season of 'MCJ' ever"? 

TR: It 100% is the messiest. We had a waffle challenge… I’ll have to leave the ending a surprise. But let’s put it this way --  I wasn’t covered in something, but some others were. It was sticky! And pretty satisfying to watch.


YH: What was the most surprising or challenging part of being a "MasterChef Junior" judge?

TR: The hard bit for me is the emotional side of it. It’s difficult when you’ve got to say goodbye to someone or something isn’t going right and somebody starts breaking down. You just want to go in and help and do everything you can. You get to know these kids very well by spending all day with them. You get to see their personalities. So, sending someone home is the worst part of being a judge. But, being able to help and calm someone down is really rewarding, because you then see them produce an amazing dish at the end. It definitely lived up to everything I thought I’d be. 


( © 2024 Greg Gayne/FOX Media LLC)


YH: This season, you got to work with 12 talented young contestants. What did you learn from working with them, and what do you think audiences will learn from watching them?

TR: I loved seeing the way that they were able to handle themselves in such an intense environment. They’ve got a massive clock counting down and they’re somewhere they’ve never been before. When something went wrong, they were able to pivot and stay calm. They are so passionate. It was inspiring to see their fearlessness at such a young age. I think that’s something we can all try to incorporate more in our daily lives -- not being scared to try new things.


YH: What did your experience judging "MasterChef Junior" teach you that you will carry into the future?

TR: There’s definitely a lot that I learned from those kids. And I also learned a lot from the judges. Hearing the way that the judges critiqued dishes, they are all so knowledgeable. It was amazing to hear them and think, “Oh, they suggested this, maybe next time I’ll do that.” Also, the kids were making dishes from all over America…. things that I hadn’t tried before. The biggest thing that I will carry into the future is the way that the kids handled themselves in a stressful situation. It was very cool to see, and it’s something that I want to be able to do. 


YH: Anything else you want to share?

TR: I would just say, what is so great about this season is the energy that the kids brought. They were so eager to start and to please. And honestly, there was just so much good food to eat!


( © 2024 Greg Gayne/FOX Media LLC)


Hungry for more? Watch the first episode of "MasterChef Junior" Season 9 tonight on FOX at 8:00pm ET/PT, or stream tomorrow (March 5) on Hulu!