As the clock ticked by, 12-year-old Ariana Feygin rushed to finish roasting the lamb. With over 70 wedding guests waiting to be served, she scrambled to meet their demands.
Feygin, now a freshman at Minnetonka High School, was a participant on the hit series “MasterChef Junior” three years ago. At 15 years old, she has achieved more than most kids her age and wants to inspire others to pursue their lifelong passion.
Her love for cooking began when she was 4 years old.
“What really drew me to it was kind of the ability to be so free and creative and expressive through my cooking,” Feygin said.
She’d climb countertops in hopes of reaching the stove. She would watch countless cooking shows, such as “MasterChef Junior,” and was in awe of the kids on the show.
After seeing an ad pop up for auditions for “MasterChef Junior,” Feygin decided she had to be there.
“I kind of had this lightbulb moment because I realized that the things I was seeing the kids do on the show, I was able to do that as well,” she said.
The show lets young chefs ages 8 to 13 compete in front of famous chefs, including Gordon Ramsay, Christina Tosi and Aarón Sánchez. It airs in more than 55 countries and is so popular that more than 20,000 kids audition every year. Feygin said she tried out three times before finally making it.
Feygin made it on to season six, wowing judges with her amazing culinary skills.
A life-changing experience
After winning one of the challenges in the show, she was able to be team captain and lead 10 other contestants. They competed against the other team while catering a real wedding. The guests selected the winner from the two entrees they received from both teams.
“It was incredibly stressful because there was so much pressure on me as a team captain, but it was super, super rewarding at the end when the guests at the wedding were super happy. And then we won that challenge.”
The other kids on the show weren’t just her competitors. They also became her best friends.
“I met some really incredible kids that I’m still friends with now. We still stay in touch after the show. I think we had so much in common because of our passion for cooking and our really big personalities.”
Feygin also met her culinary idol, Gordon Ramsay, who was one of the judges on the show. To the audience, he’s very intense, but to Feygin, it’s just another way he shows he’s passionate about cooking and that he wants everyone to do well.
Not only has the reality show given her a platform and the opportunity to meet other amazing young chefs, it also changed her as a person. “MasterChef Junior” opened her eyes to what’s possible, and through the show she learned so much.
Three years after the show, Feygin continues to pursue her passion of cooking. She also inspires other young people and continues her philanthropy work.
She’s traveled across the country, sharing her story with thousands of kids. She has also raised thousands of dollars and has helped countless organizations, such as the Make-A-Wish Foundation, Children’s Hospital and Children’s Heart Link.
Altogether, Feygin estimates she has raised more than $500,000 with the help of her siblings and others since she appeared on “MasterChef.”
“For other teenagers that are getting started, I think after you find what you’re really passionate about, just having the courage to persevere through the failures is something that’s really important, too,” she said.
Feygin continues to spread that message and hopes that 20 years down the line, she’ll continue to inspire people.