We interviewed Cydney Sherman, Season 5 “MasterChef Junior” contestant and self-taught chef, at The Creative Kitchen Kids Food Festival in lower Manhattan. The festival was held at the Oculus at Westfield World Trade Center, an incredibly beautiful mall. The festival is for families with children of all ages and offers lots of fun activities that help kids make healthy and balanced food choices for themselves. Before we met Cydney, we enjoyed visiting the many exhibits that offered food samples and information about healthy eating. We went on the Balanced Plate Food Scavenger Hunt using a MyPlate nutrition guide diagram to collect stamps from the exhibits and earn a goodie bag full of nutritious food samples.
We were so excited to meet Cydney because we love “MasterChef Junior,” and we thought she did an amazing job on the show. Cydney is 12, but she was only 10 when she was on the show. She lives in Brooklyn with her mom, dad and twin sister. When she auditioned for “MasterChef Junior,” she didn’t think she would get as far in the competition, so she was very proud of how well she did. We know she was one of Gordon Ramsey’s favorites during the season. When we sat down to talk with her, she was so friendly and always smiling, which made us feel comfortable right away.
Cydney told us that she enjoys wearing her mother’s vintage aprons when she is in the kitchen because her mother was her inspiration and taught her how to cook and bake. She said that cooking and baking together is their mother-and-daughter thing. We were curious if she could make her specialty, macaroons, peanut- or tree-nut free. She explained that you need the graininess of the nut flour and that you can’t use the superfine flour made from wheat. When she first made crème brûlée, she had no idea how to make it, but she tried her best and it came out pretty well. After that, she became more serious about her career in the kitchen. She also found it difficult to make bread at first, but she learned that you have to make sure the water is the perfect temperature for the yeast and it has to sit for the right amount of time. Cydney knows so much about the chemistry of cooking and baking. She also knows that working well on a team is important to be successful. She told us that you can’t be too dominant, but also not to let other people get in your way. We found this to be very smart and helpful advice.
Cydney also told us that when she is not cooking or baking, she enjoys art and is currently working on graphic designs at her school. She had to miss a lot of school when she was on the show, but she said that missing some school is kind of fun because she was doing something that she really loved. Cydney also plays two musical instruments, the straight up bass and bass guitar. She became interested in music because her father was a musician.
After we interviewed Cydney, we watched a cooking demonstration at The James Beard Foundation Future Foodies Pavilion. We learned how to make a healthy chocolate avocado pudding, and then we cut up fruit and added fixings to the pudding to make a parfait. We were not too fond of the pudding, but the adults really loved it. Finally, we went to the community performance area and enjoyed watching Cydney demonstrate making a fruit trifle in front of a huge crowd of people. She seemed so comfortable in front of everyone, and we were so impressed with her technique of layering pudding, whipped cream, and fruit to make a beautiful dessert. It was too pretty to eat. Cydney is a real inspiration for us, and we are so lucky to have met her.