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Fox is not cooling on its love affair with MasterChef Junior. The younger version of its summer culinary competition, which just premiered its third season in less than a year and a half, has been renewed for a fourth run.
The renewal also marks a change in the judging panel. Two months after founding MasterChef and MasterChef Junior panelist Joe Bastianich announced his departure from both series, the restaurateur has been replaced by well-known pastry chef Christina Tosi.
“MasterChef has been one of my favorite shows since it began, and like so many others, I fell in love with MasterChef Junior,” said Tosi. “I’m incredibly humbled by the opportunity and excited to pay forward all that I owe to learning what you’re made of in the home kitchen, and putting your neck on the line to show what you’ve got to the rest of the world.”
Tosi is best known as the co-owner and founder of New York City’s Momofuku Milk Bar, the popular bakery extension of David Chang‘s restaurant empire. The seventh Milk Bar is set to open in Washington, D.C., later this year.
“Christina is one of the most exciting, dynamic and inspirational people in food today, whose brilliant ideas and incredible work ethic have resulted in a meteoric rise in the culinary world,” added MasterChef judge and executive producer Gordon Ramsay. “I have tremendous respect for her opinions, and she’ll be an incredible judge and phenomenal mentor to the best home cooks in America.”
The desire for more MasterChef Junior comes as no surprise at Fox. The network ordered second and third seasons of the franchise shortly after its first run in 2013. And while new reality efforts have proven hard to break through, MasterChef Junior has been a strong performer — especially in its transition from Fridays to Tuesdays. The most recent season opened to a 1.8 rating among adults 18-49 and 5.3 million viewers.
The sixth season of MasterChef is currently in production and will bow in the summer, while production on MasterChef Junior kicks off this spring. Both series are produced by Endemol Shine North America.
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