Christina Tosi asks Cade about his Chicken and Waffles
Christina Tosi asks Cade about his Chicken and Waffles. Credit: MasterChef Junior

Work with what you know

The sweet and savory combination of Chicken and Waffles gave me an opportunity to work with familiar flavors on Week 3 of Masterchef Junior, and somehow, I was able to pull off “Best Dish”!

The Challenge

The judges challenged us to put our spin on the well-known soul food dish, and my fellow contestants held nothing back with their culinary creativity.

Remy accepted a challenge from Joe Bastianich and put an Italian spin on her dish. Mikey’s presentation was on-point with his classic interpretation, and Ariana took a risk with a mushroom sauce, and it paid off.

Growing up in South Mississippi, I was already accustomed to chicken and waffles, so I just tried to tie in some familiar spices and flavors to give my dish a personal touch.

Cade Ortego Chicken and Waffles MasterChef Junior
Cade Ortego prepares to present his Chicken in Waffles to the judges. Credit: MasterChef Junior

The Process

I started by staying true to the fried chicken recipe I knew best. I learned it from my neighbor, Anthony Mullins. Thanks, Mr. Anthony!

I quickly mixed several Cajun spices I was accustomed to via my heritage and I mixed the Cajun blend into the flour. You have to be generous with seasoning. No one likes bland fried chicken!

I also put a lot of effort into making sure my oil was the proper temperature. If the oil is too hot, the chicken skin will burn on the outside before it’s finished on the inside.

However, the waffles were a bit of a risk for me. I knew how to make traditional waffles, but I wanted to stand out. We frequently cook Mexican food around the home, so I used that inspiration to make my dish different. I worked in some cornmeal to a traditional waffle recipe.

But I still needed to tie the two together. So, I made a bacon corn salsa.

Cade wins "Best Dish" Week 3 MasterChef Junior
Cade wins “Best Dish” Week 3 MasterChef Junior with Chicken and Waffles. Credit: MasterChef Junior

When you take a risk, you never know how the MasterChef Junior judges are going to react. Fortunately, it paid dividends in week three.

Coming Up

Ariana’s mushroom sauce was a hit as well. If there’s any downside to competing on MasterChef Junior, it’s that we don’t get to try our competition/friends creations. I would have loved to try her chicken and waffles they looked terrific!

Instead, it looks like the two of us are going head to head next week. We were each selected as team captains, and we’ll be catering a wedding.

No pressure, right!?!

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