Eve Achuthan-Kozar of Sag Harbor will  take part in season...

Eve Achuthan-Kozar of Sag Harbor will  take part in season 8 of the Fox culinary competiton series, "MasterChef Junior." Credit: FOX/Michael Becker

For someone still only in eighth grade, Sag Harbor teen Eve Achuthan-Kozar already had a lifetime of experiences even before joining season 8 of the kiddie culinary competition "MasterChef Junior," premiering Thursday at 8 p.m. on Fox/5.

"I went to India, which was an amazing experience," the Hayground School student, who turns 14 next month, says by phone from home. "I've been to Croatia to see my grandparents, who also have a place in Portugal, so I was there, too."

"And Italy and Germany and Austria," adds her French-Croatian mom, Lana Kozar, 39, who was educated in Vienna and works at a high-end furniture and home-décor store in Sag Harbor. Among Eve's other experiences, she and classmate Lila Deuel three years ago took first place in the grades 1-5 category of the East End's 16th Student Film Competition, for their 50-second, paper-animated "Shock Wave." And in 2017, she was among the local student ambassadors for the Smithsonian Institution and Cricket Media's Invent It Challenge.

Eve, who shot her season of "MasterChef Junior" two years ago at age 11, competing under the name "Eva," says that watching her family cook "really inspired me. My grandparents make this dish, scampi alla busara, with these huge jumbo shrimp in Croatia. And it's basically shrimp with tomato sauce, wine and garlic, and the shell's still on and you have to rip it off as you eat, and it's so good. And I learned how to make that, like, super-duper young and it's one of my favorite dishes. So that's something I literally love making."

Among her other favorite things to make is pie — "any type of pie, honestly. And I make that all the time. The first one I made was apple pie. And I love apple pie because you can add lemon and different flavors."

Eve is the daughter of divorced parents Kozar and Arjun Achuthan, 54, an educator who co-founded Bridgehampton's Hayground School as part of a splinter group that broke away from Hampton Day School in the 1990s. She recalled how she got on the show: "I was just sitting in my living room with my dad, and my mom called me up and was, like, 'Do you want to try out for "MasterChef Junior"?' And I was, like, ‘Yeah, I mean, why not?’ "

"I saw it on Instagram," says her mother of a casting notice. "And she always loved Gordon [Ramsay, the host and an executive producer] and was always watching 'MasterChef' on Netflix. He was the hero, the inspiration. And he did a [20-lesson online] MasterClass that she watched eagerly."

As for what Eve herself likes to eat, "Well, I love ice cream," she says. "Even when I'm full I will always eat ice cream. That's my favorite of all time. I love pork dumplings. Honestly, I'm not really picky. But those are things that really stand out."

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