She’s been cooking for a decade, has weathered criticism from Gordon Ramsay, helped revamp a high-profile menu, and gets fan mail from as far away as Australia. The first time she tried to crack an egg, she failed miserably. But don’t hold that against her; she was three at the time. Nine years later, in front of a panel of judges and up against hundreds of other hopefuls, she scrambled the egg that would change her life: The audition was the first round of the month-long process that landed her on Fox’s MasterChef Junior. And in round after round of cooking, she kept winning, until the 12-year-old from Milton was crowned the season-five champion last year.
Now 13, Jasmine Stewart somehow finds time to make dinner at home on occasion—when she’s not cooking at a charity event, filming her Jasmine’s Delightful Desserts video series, or juggling school, cheerleading, and Model U.N. One night in late July, she prepared for her parents and older brother a meal riffing on the one she’d made at a fundraiser that brought in $1,500 for antibullying campaign Saving Our Daughters. Like everything else Stewart attempts (that very first egg aside), it’s a winner.
That’s the rub
The spice blend for Stewart’s Caribbean salmon is as imprecise as it is perfect; she throws together a mix of options from the pantry, including paprika, cayenne, powdered ginger, cinnamon, and dried rosemary, along with a heap of brown sugar. When her father asks why not use fresh rosemary from the backyard garden she tends, she gives him a patient look and a smile: “This is a rub, so I’m gonna go with dried.” After coating the filets and popping them in the oven for 15 minutes, the fish is perfect—and the kitchen smells like fall leaves.
Rice that excites
Into the boiling water Stewart adds jasmine rice (her go-to variety, of course), plus a few pats of butter, a handful of cilantro, and healthy doses of minced garlic and grated ginger. “I got the ginger idea from my dad. He’s a huge ginger person.”
Noodles of a different stripe
No pot of boiling water is needed for these noodles. Stewart shaves off wide strips of zucchini with a peeler, rolls them into tight cylinders, slices them into perfect spirals, and sautes them with chopped onion, minced garlic, diced tomatoes, and torn cilantro. “It’s a cool way to work veggies into your meal,” she says. Speaking of veggies (and of victories), she gushes: “I just recently got my brother to eat a tomato.”
This article appears in our October 2018 issue.