Sophomore’s passion for cooking sparks future career

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Sophomore Sam Sy on Masterchef Junior at age 10.

Sam Sy furiously stirs the skillet, sweat beading on his face. His eyes are locked on his mission, grinning with determination. The smell of roasting meat fills the air, and the grilled vegetables sizzle on the pan. He remains focused, in control of his surroundings, brimming with pride. As soon as the dish is finished, he stares at his newest creation with a sense of accomplishment.

Samuel Sy is a sophomore attending Wando, and cooking fabulous dishes is what he lives for. 

“I like food, I like to eat food. That’s really it, and it’s really good to be able to do that,” Sy said. “The cooking process is just fun to me, and I see it as a profession. It’s just something I like to do.” 

In the Wando environment, Sy is perhaps most known for his accomplishment for appearing on Masterchef Junior’s fourth season when he was only 10 years old.

The cooking process is just fun to me, and I see it as a profession. It’s just something I like to do.”

— Sam Sy

“My friends told me about the show, and said I should go on it,” he said. “I told the idea to my mom, and we started the process.

“There was an online application. After that if you were selected you submitted pictures and videos to show them about your personality and all that,” he continued. “After that there was an open audition in Texas, where I interviewed, cooked, and more. There was a final interview in California.”

The Masterchef Junior competition itself isn’t as rigorous as many think.

“It’s not all about the competition. We lived there for two and a half months and stayed there with all the people who were competing, so that was pretty cool,” Sy said. “There was filming in the morning, an interview that was part of the show. There were tutors for school, and my teachers emailed us all our school work. Most of the day we just hung out at the hotel. It wasn’t that intense, and it was just a fun time.” 

Sy said he made numerous friends and acquaintances he remembers to this day at the Masterchef Junior competition, and he also met acclaimed chefs Gordon Ramsay, Graham Elliot and Christina Tosi, who all served as his judges.

Graham McAlister

“I went to one of Christina’s bakeries, and I got an autograph from her. I got to talk to all the judges like Ramsay when they were judging us,” said Sy, adding that his favorite chef is Ramsay, who is “pretty much a standard for celebrity chefs, and he’s very knowledgeable and experienced. He does seem very rude and aggressive on TV, but he wasn’t on the show I was on. He was very helpful, and you could tell he has learned a lot from being in the kitchen.”  

Sy said he first realized his love for cooking at age four when he observed his family working hard in the kitchen. He gradually developed his interests in the field by assisting them with various dishes.

“My family cooked a lot, and from watching them I got really into it,” Sy said. 

His father owns restaurants in the area, and he is planning on expanding his business in the future. Sy’s grandparents also love cooking with him, and although his mother doesn’t cook, her support drives him to keep cooking.  

Sy is part of the Culinary 2 program this year and he cooks at home almost every day,

“If it’s the weekend and I’m making food, I make sure everything’s done right, and I extend things and take a lot of time in my preparations.” 

Sy’s favorite dish to cook is burgers because that is what he enjoys eating the most. However, he has experience in cooking a myriad of cuisines.

“I’m good at pastries like cream puffs, and I have extensively practiced and mastered almost every way to cook an egg,” he said. “I think one of the most impressive things I make in my opinion is beef wellington and croquembouche, a tower of cream puffs.”

Sy’s dream is to go into the culinary field, and his entire family has influenced his dreams. 

“I want to go to school for business and culinary. I’m interested in business because it;s new to me, and I want to learn more about it so I can learn to open restaurants,” he said. “I also want to do culinary school for technical skills and to help me open my own restaurant.

“It’s hard to really mess up because you can always learn. Just keep cooking,” he added. “If you like to do it it’ll be fun. If you just keep cooking, then it’s not a big deal. You just have to keep trying, and eventually you’ll get better.”