During the long, cold winter of 2014-2015, much of the Winchester Metro Area passed many a nasty night huddled around the TV set watching Season 2 of Fox Network’s hit: MASTERCHEF JUNIOR, and one of its surprise stars: Winchester’s own cooking sensation, 9-year-old Abby Major. According to Debra Cornwell in a feature article published in “Valley Homes and Style” in December 2014/January 2015: “Abby Major, daughter of Art and Maggie Major, was 8 when the show filmed last spring (2014) in Los Angeles. The culinary competition series gives talented kids between the ages of 8 and 13 the chance to showcase their culinary abilities and passion for food through a series of delicious challenges. Host and award-winning chef, Gordon Ramsay (Gordon Ramsay Steak, Gordon Ramsay Pub & Grill, Gordon Ramsay BurGR), is joined by restaurateur and wine expert, Joe Bastianich (Del Posto, Eataly), and acclaimed chef, Graham Elliott (Graham Elliott Bistro), on the MASTERCHEF JUNIOR judging panel. The celebrated food experts coach and encourage the promising hopefuls to cook like a professional and teach them tricks of the trade along the way.”
Debra Cornwell continues: “After a nationwide search, 16 of the best junior home cooks in the country compete in the MASTERCHEF JUNIOR kitchen. They face exciting challenges, including a mystery box, a three-legged race, and the fan-favorite restaurant takeover, until one talented kid is named America’s newest MASTERCHEF JUNIOR, receiving a $100,000 prize. This second season premiered November 4th (2014). The self-possessed 9-year-old says, “I watched the first series of MASTERCHEF JUNIOR and really liked it. One of the episodes said that if you want to be on the show, go to the MASTERCHEF JUNIOR website and apply.” Her mother adds, “Within minutes, Abby was on the website reading the application. So a year ago, we filled out the application, which was just basic information, and sent a snap shot thinking that would be the end of that.” Not long afterwards, the casting company called and encouraged Abby to audition in New York City.”
And, there began what has to be an incredible journey for an elementary school kid! Abby had to participate in three auditions in New York City before being chosen for the show; and, then, on very short notice, ended up spending six weeks filming in Los Angeles (accompanied by her Dad) with only two days off in the entire six weeks. All of the hard work and sacrifice and time away from the rest of her family paid off when Abby cooked her way to a Semi-Final finish on the show, winning many hearts and much praise along the way. Abby, at 8, was the youngest contestant ever to enter the popular cooking competition and wowed the judges with her imaginative and delectable dishes. During the “Pop-Up Restaurant” episode, Abby was the captain of the winning Red Team. Abby’s culinary abilities garnered great praise from the judges, including comments from Gordon Ramsey: “Every night you turn up here you amaze me!” And, from Joe Bastianich: “You may be the youngest here, Abby, but you’ve got big, big potential!”
Abby is a fourth grade student at Powhatan School in Boyce, Virginia. In addition to her love of cooking, Abby is an avid reader, loves to run, and aspires to be a chef and a veterinarian. She lives in Winchester, Virginia, with her parents; her brother, Thomas; her sister, Finley; dog, Leska; and, a gecko named Gordon. As a local resident, Abby Major will be able to participate in several of the Festival activities. Abby will make an appearance at the Coronation of Queen Shenandoah LXXXVIII at 1:30pm, Friday, May 1st; will ride in the Firefighters’ Parade at 5:30pm the same day; and, will ride in the Grand Feature Parade at 1:30pm on Saturday, May 2nd. Please look for future Media Releases for more info on 2015’s fantastic array of celebrities!