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November 24, 2017

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Gordon Ramsay expands Fox empire with ‘Junior Masterchef’; pal Graham Elliot plans L.V. outpost


Isaac Brekken/WireImage

Gordon Ramsay, Francois Payard, Guy Savoy and Michel Richard attend the 2013 Vegas Uncork’d by Bon Appetit Grand Tasting at Garden of the Gods at Caesars Palace on Friday, May 10, 2013.

2013 Vegas Uncork'd: Master Series Dinners

Bon Appetit hosts the 7th annual Vegas Uncork'd on Thursday, May 9, 2013, in Las Vegas. (Isaac Brekken for Bon Appetit) Launch slideshow »
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Chefs Graham Elliot and Gordon Ramsay.

Fiery celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay admits that he was reduced to tears as he wrapped filming on his new TV series “Junior Masterchef” that brings him to a total of five shows airing on Fox. “Junior Masterchef” is a spinoff of his summer series “Masterchef” that has been renewed for two more seasons.

Gordon received the good news while attending the 2013 Vegas Uncork’d Grand Tasting at Caesars Palace and checking in at his three Las Vegas restaurants at Caesars Palace (Gordon Ramsay Pub & Grill), Planet Hollywood (Gordon Ramsay BurGR) and the Paris (Gordon Ramsay Steak).

He also hosted a Master Series Dinner last Thursday and a Sunday traditional British roast beef luncheon, both at Caesars. Additionally, “Hell’s Kitchen,” now in its 11th season, also was renewed for two years. “Much to celebrate,” Gordon told me in an exclusive interview at Garden of the Gods pool at Caesars.

“I’m proudest of all, though, with ‘Junior Masterchef.’ It is going to change the way America looks at food and children. It will change the way children in America eat. It will encourage children to learn to become chefs at home and maybe as a future career. It was the most amazing experience of my life.”

Children ages 8 through 13 were mentored by Gordon and his two judges, restaurateur Joe Bastianich and Chicago chef Graham Elliot, who is planning to open a Las Vegas restaurant before year’s end. Joe is Mario Batali’s partner in three restaurants at The Venetian and Palazzo.

2013 Vegas Uncork'd: Grand Tasting at Caesars

Gordon Ramsay, Francois Payard, Guy Savoy and Michel Richard attend the 2013 Vegas Uncork'd by Bon Appetit Grand Tasting at Garden of the Gods at Caesars Palace on Friday, May 10, 2013. Launch slideshow »

Gordon continued: “I’m really excited we’re able to offer this new opportunity to young budding chefs. Having my own children who love to cook, I know firsthand the skill and passion these kids can have at such a young age and what they can do with it. It was extraordinary to watch them in action. We had amazing kids.”

Graham told me: “We were all in tears while filming the final episode. We were incredibly amazed by the kids’ talents, determination and dedication. It’s an elimination show, but done differently each week so the children aren’t upset about not moving forward.”

Gordon told me: “Filming the final episode moved us more emotionally than the children. We took a one-star Michelin restaurant in Los Angeles, but never told the customers that one night that kids would be in the kitchen cooking the identical menu the regular staff would have prepared.

“The kids did everything from start to finish. The diners never had a clue. At the end of service, I appeared and asked the customers to meet the kitchen brigade. In walked all the kids. No adults. People’s jaws dropped. They began applauding. Then a standing ovation, and then tears. Nobody including us could believe the kids had done it all and maintained the incredibly high standard. What a crowning moment for television. Such a fantastic achievement.”

“Junior Masterchef” will air on Fox on Fridays at 8 p.m. starting this fall, according to today’s official schedule announcement in the New York upfronts to advertisers from Mike Darnell, Fox’s alternative programming president. “Kitchen Nightmares” and “Hotel Hell” were renewed earlier.

“Gordon just brings an incredible level of energy and passion to each of his series, and our viewers absolutely love them. We are thrilled to continue building his brand here on Fox. He’s a global superstar, and the success and longevity of his unprecedented series on our network proves that America just can’t get enough of him.”

Chicago chef Graham Elliot Bowles, 36, has won raves for his two outposts in the Windy City: Grahamwich and the Graham Elliot bistronomic restaurant, which received two Michelin stars and three Chicago Tribune stars. A Navy brat who has traveled the world, his menus are described as “imaginative new American fare.” He’s proud of the fact that he started out as a dishwasher and a bus boy. Food & Wine Magazine named him one of America’s 10 Best New Chefs in 2004.

Graham, nominated three times for James Beard Awards for best chef, has worked with best pal Gordon on “Masterchef.” He told me that he’ll bring his “inside-out, molecular styled” cooking to Las Vegas within a year. But he’s silent for now at which hotel — “but we’ll be on the Strip,” he promised.

Robin Leach has been a journalist for more than 50 years and has spent the past decade giving readers the inside scoop on Las Vegas, the world’s premier platinum playground.

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