Junior MasterChef’s Duty of Gare
New judge Anna Gare talks about Junior MasterChef's need to protect its young charges with extra safety officers and strict working hours.
Junior MasterChef has plated up with all kinds of guardians, minders and nurturing adults for its debut series.
With 50 kids aged 8-12 mingling with knives, grills and all manner of potential medical disasters, producers had no choice.
As new judge Anna Gare explains, the show aims for an even more embracing tone than the adult original, all filmed within strict working hours for children.
“We made sure they were looked after and had a great time. They didn’t work long hours, so for them it was the ride of a lifetime being on the show they loved,” she says.
“There were lots of safety people on board. So you’d have one person on the end of each bench just to make sure they didn’t forget to turn the pan handle around, or forget to turn off their stove, or watch them when they were cutting and chatting at the same time.
“We shot it making sure the kids weren’t overworked and were having fun. So when people watch it they’ll be experiencing that with the kids.”
In television Duty of Care extends beyond production shoots, especially in the Reality genre.
Earlier this year MasterChef‘s Joanne Zalm was subjected to extreme online comments, including some based on ethnic lines. For a show that invites audience passion, is there a risk that children could be subjected to media scrutiny?
“I don’t think there are going to be any problems, because the kids are so natural and so wonderful. I really think that people are going to be right behind them,” says Gare.
She joins the series after earlier presenting roles in Best in Australia an Quickies in My Kitchen, both for Pay TV. But she didn’t hesitate to join the MasterChef juggernaut.
“Channel TEN asked me out on a date and I accepted!” she laughs. “I thought ‘Wow that would be an experience!’ I like a challenge, so I felt like I was putting myself under a Challenge too.
“I felt like an honoured guest on the show. I knew I was hopping into something huge but I wasn’t really fazed by it. I’ve done a bit of TV before, but I’ve never done anything like this role.
“I stepped into a well-oiled machine so I just tried to keep up as much as I could, and give a bit of me in there.”
Expect to see more humour in this spin-off. The show will make the most of kids’ candour.
“Out of the mouths of babes you get the absolute truth,” Gare suggests.
“Kids aren’t as contrived as adults, they’re just natural.
“So not only is it a cooking show but it’s a close-up look at people and their reactions to competing. I can’t wait to see it to watch all the little talk-back bits as well, which we don’t get to see.”
The popularity of the cooking show with young viewers is now widely-acknowledged. Last year Julie Goodwin and Poh Ling Yeow were the subject of screams from pint-sized fans at the Kids’ Choice Awards.
Gare is heartened by the rise in cooking amongst child audiences.
“There are so many amazing cooking shows on TV, starting with Jamie Oliver who has really influenced people from all ages, from little kids to young men, old men. But MasterChef really encouraged a lot of kids. They love the show, so it’s really amazing see them come on the show knowing the drill, because they’re fans,” she says.
“The show has been absolutely incredible. I feel really delighted to be on it.”
Junior MasterChef premieres 7:30pm Sunday on TEN.