When your parents own two restaurants, you might be a natural to become a contestant on Fox Network’s “MasterChef Junior.”
You might even win the whole thing, like Liya Chu of Scarsdale, New York.
Liya, 14, took home the top prize from the eighth season of “MasterChef Junior,” which ended a few months ago. She was almost 11 when she started, but the show was paused during the pandemic.
She will be among those onstage when “MasterChef Junior Live,” the touring version of the TV show, stops at Omaha’s Orpheum Theater on Tuesday.
“It is a live version of what it was like to be on the show,” Liya said in a recent interview. “It’s fun and family friendly. There is audience interaction; you can actually be a part of it and cook alongside us.”
She said the TV show involved a lot of mystery box challenges in which contestants got a slew of ingredients and had to create a dish in a limited amount of time. They also had skills tests and team challenges, among other events.
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“Once we went to a motorbike track and went all the way to the desert,” Liya said. “It was two hours away from the set.”
Liya said her favorite thing about the show was working with the other “juniors” and just being there.
“We’ve all seen many cooking and baking shows, and to see what I saw on TV was amazing. The experience was unique,” she said.
The most unusual thing she cooked on the show probably was eel, she said, though she had eaten it many times both in Japan and in Taiwan, where she is from.
She was also taught how to purée ingredients for recipes and how to flambé various items.
And, she said, “I learned a lot about teamwork.”
Liya originally learned to cook by watching her restaurateur parents, who cooked dinner at home every night.
“When I was young, my mom would make a lot of dumplings and I wanted to make them, but they didn’t quite turn out like hers,” she said.
When asked, she had trouble choosing her favorite food overall, but finally decided it was sushi.
“I could eat sushi every day,” she said.
She was very competitive when she started the show, but gradually figured out that wasn’t the right approach for her.
“I started to think I shouldn’t put too much pressure on myself,” she said. “Instead of seeing it as a competition, I realized I wanted to cook what I had been learning at home and share a story that is based off my family and tell everybody where I came from.”
When she won, she was overwhelmed.
“I was going to cry no matter what. When they said my name, it just exploded. I had a flashback of the whole experience and everybody there to help, the other juniors, the judges. I was so happy I got the chance to participate,” she said.
Now she’s eager for the monthlong tour to begin, and to visit Omaha. She said she’s heard that the city has a lot of craft breweries and she wants to see some of them, even if she can’t try what they produce.
Tickets for “MasterChef Junior Live” start at $24.50 and are available at ticketomaha.com.
Album features Princess Diana’s life in song 25 years after her death
Local composer Karen Sokolof Javitch has been writing songs about Princess Diana for more than 20 years.
Now she has released a new album, “Princess Diana — Her Life in Song,” in recognition of the 25th anniversary of Diana’s passing, which was marked around the world on Aug. 31.
The CD features 42 songs that offer a look into the royal’s extraordinary life, including her global work with those who struggled with AIDS, mental illness, land mine injuries, childhood diseases and other issues.
“Diana’s compassion and work for those who were suffering was endless,” Javitch said. “Diana’s famous quote is ‘I am not a political figure. I am a humanitarian figure. Always was, always will be.’ ”
The album provides a musical biography of the princess, starting with the invitation she received at age 17 to a 30th birthday gala for Prince Charles. The late Chuck Penington arranged the songs on the CD.
Javitch also wrote “Princess Diana: The Musical” with actress Elaine Jabenis, and it was produced in Omaha and elsewhere. One for All Musical Theater will revive the musical in 2023.
You can listen to the new album and Javitch’s other music on Spotify, CD Baby and YouTube. The CD is available at 402-393-3893 or at princessdianathemusical.com.
Former Omaha musician to return home for Benson Theatre
Singer-songwriter Brad Hoshaw, a former Omahan who now lives in California, is coming home for a concert next Thursday at the Benson Theatre.
Hoshaw is known for his soothing tenor voice and his contemplative storytelling. His style combines the haunting feel of Jeff Buckley and the country character of Townes van Zandt.
He has won five Omaha Entertainment & Arts Awards. He has also composed music for American Public Media’s “Marketplace with Kai Ryssdal” and the Amazon Prime film “Black Luck.” He’s currently promoting his new album “Living on a Sliver.”
Tickets for the 7 p.m. show are $12 in advance at bradhoshawmusic.com/links or $15 at the door. The theater is at 6054 Maple St.
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