Pressure Rises for Child Cooks on TV as Shows Grow More Competitive

As children’s cooking shows become their own genre, chefs as young as 8 encounter tense situations and, often, their first major disappointment

To make a winning television show, start with precocious young chefs who aren’t afraid to use “plate” as a verb, add the panic of a countdown clock and sprinkle in a few children’s tears, preferably organic.

TV cooking competitions starring boys and girls in chef coats have boomed over the past four years. “Top Chef Junior,” the latest arrival now airing on Universal Kids, illustrates just how crowded the field has become. Its 12 contestants include children who have already appeared on other cooking shows—at least three from...

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