By REBECCA LEFTWICH | Apr. 27, 2019 – 11:55 PM
His skills on the grill are legendary, but it was a hard-to-pronounce dessert that earned Reid Briggs a spot in the top 10 on MasterChef Junior last week.
Briggs said he “went outside his wheelhouse” to create a cookies-and-cream pannacotta, a molded Italian dessert made from sweetened cream and gelatin.
“I wanted to show them that not only was I good at home cooking and grilling but that I can bake, too,” he said. “It felt awesome.”
His dish won the Mystery Box Challenge on Tuesday’s episode, and his pronunciation – “panna colada” – won chuckles and a correction from judge Gordon Ramsay.
The win gave Briggs immunity from elimination, and he also won the opportunity to “save” his buddy and fellow contestant Aaron Smith. That guaranteed the young Georgia chefs the first two spots among the show’s top 10 competitors.
“I feel really good about it,” Briggs said.
His best episode so far came after a low point during the previous week, when Ramsay intercepted raw chicken before it could be served to campers during a team challenge. Briggs, who was one of two team members responsible for grilling the chicken, became visibly upset.
“It was 90 degrees, I was cooking on high and there were 102 pieces of chicken,” said Briggs, who was pulled aside by judge Christina Tosi.
“She said, ‘What’s the matter? Come on, let’s get this done,’” Briggs said. “I said, ‘I’m not feeling good. I’m hot and I’m stressed.’”
After a pep talk from Tosi, Briggs and his team finished strong to win the challenge and then cooled off on a slip and slide. Briggs’ signature hat went down the slide without him – on Ramsay’s head.
“I asked him to hold it for me and he put it on his head backwards,” said Briggs.
The hat now hangs on deer antlers in his room, “like a trophy.”
Briggs, Smith and the rest of Season 7’s top 10 contestants will be back in the saddle Tuesday at 9 p.m. when a new episode of MasterChef Junior airs on Fox.
“I feel great,” Briggs said. “ I didn’t know I would make it this far, so I’m like, ‘Let’s go all the way now!’”