In January, FOX's "MasterChef Junior" visited New York, Chicago and Dallas seeking the season-two competitors. There was also an open call in Los Angeles.
On hand were some of young chefs from the first season, who happen to live in the L.A. area, including Sarah Lane and runner-up Dara Yu -- and Troy Glass, who was auditioning in hopes of getting a return appearance (no word on whether he made it, sorry).
Yu, wearing her trademark red bow, says she keeps in touch with her fellow competitors -- including winner Alexander Weiss, with whom she video chats from his home in New York City.
"Whenever I'm around them," she tells Zap2it, "I just feel myself, very comfortable."
Although the 12-year-old didn't win and hasn't yet decided on whether to just keep pursuing cooking as a lifelong passion or also as a career, Yu has already accomplished one of her goals.
She says, "I get messages on Facebook and Instagram: 'You're so inspirational. You've inspired me to take cooking lessons. I'm trying to cook because of you and all the contestants.' That's one of my main reasons I went on the show, because I wanted to inspire kids to start cooking."
After all, even if they don't wind up being chefs, they'll never have to give up cooking.
Says Yu, "Everyone needs to eat."
Chefs Gordon Ramsay and Graham Elliot and restaurateur Joe Bastianich are also returning as judges. Elliot took a few minutes to answer some questions from Zap2it.
Zap2it: What made you decide to participate in a new season of "MasterChef Junior"?
Graham Elliot: Working with kids in the kitchen is a passion of mine, so I jumped at the opportunity do another season.
What are the top criteria for a great contestant?
I think the contestant has to be driven, focused and passionate above all else. You can always teach someone how to sear a piece of fish or bake a pie, but the other things need to come from within the individual.
Are you concerned at all about getting as great a cast as there was for Season 1?
Never -- the more the show gets the message across that food and cooking are fun, creative and artistic outlets for kids, the better the contestants will be.
What makes this show so great for America's kids?I feel it inspires them to create, teaches them about ingredients and healthy ways to cook, and opens their eyes to the diversity of this awesome country!
Photo/Video credit: FOX