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From small town ND to Master Chef Jr.

Boy with local ties competing on popular national cooking show

ALFRED EGGERMONT, 11, often cooks delicious meals for his family, including salmon, mashed potatoes and asparagus. (Submitted photo)

By Anna Jauhola
A boy with deep ties to Kittson County is competing on a national cooking show.
Alfred Eggermont, 11, made his debut on the FOX Network as a contestant on Master Chef Jr. The first episode aired on Monday, March 4. Alfred is the son of Sue Hanson, a 2001 Kittson Central graduate, and great-grandson to JoAnn Hanson, of Hallock. Alfred lives with his mom, dad and sister near Binford, N.D., and is also the first contestant on the show to be from North Dakota.
Alfred shared his experience with the Enterprise last week in a telephone interview.
His desire to be a contestant started nearly seven years ago, along with his desire to learn how to cook.
Alfred was 6 when he first watched Master Chef Jr. and expressed interest in being on the show. Sue has always loved cooking and learned from her dad, Mark, step-mother Leny, and grandmother, Jeannine Howe.
“My mom basically started teaching me (how to cook) and then my grandma, Leny, came in and helped me,” Alfred said, noting with a giggle he’s maybe surpassed his mother’s skills by now.
His grandma, Leny Hanson, is Filipino and taught him how to cook his most favorite dish. Pancit is an open dish of noodles with chicken, beef or pork, vegetables like peppers, carrots and celery, and seasoned with garlic, chili powder and pepper and other Asian seasonings. He will also add rice to the dish, if he chooses.
“It’s easy to make and it tastes extremely good!” Alfred said, noting he will cook his favorite meal for his family occasionally.
Throughout his cooking journey, Alfred has found the activity soothes him. He cooks at home, when he camps with his family and when they travel, staying at AirBnBs with full kitchens. Although Sue does most of the planning, Alfred definitely contributes to what meals they cook. Sue also does much of the meal prep during the week – basically acting as sous chef in her own kitchen.
Alfred’s dream is to become a chef, own a restaurant, and eventually write a Midwest cookbook that focuses on pantry cooking – using whatever is on hand to make meals.
“We can’t always get fresh ingredients here,” Alfred said. “So this way, they can use the stuff in their pantry.”
By competing on Master Chef Jr., he is well on his way to his dream.
About three years ago, Sue started an Instagram account to share Alfred’s antics in the kitchen. He really gets in a groove while he’s cooking – dancing and singing to his favorite music, while carefully preparing his favorite dishes. He will also narrate, telling the audience what he’s cooking and his techniques. So far, he has about 300 followers, but that has increased since FOX announced the contestants’ names two weeks ago.
Early last year, a casting director reached out to them through the Instagram account after watching some of Alfred’s videos.
“I got onto the show on my personality and cooking skills,” he said.
He was so excited when he was asked to audition and went to Los Angeles in October, and ended up staying for two months while filming.
“My favorite part was meeting all the judges and making friends with the other contestants,” Alfred said.
In between his tendency to be a social butterfly, Alfred found he grew as a chef as well. While he couldn’t comment on specific dishes he cooked, he said he received many compliments on his dishes from judges and others. Plus, he learned better techniques, especially in using different knives for food preparation and how to make more sauces.
“I learned more how to use knives properly, like when I had to cut basil,” Alfred said. “They taught me how to cut it easier. You roll it up and cut it into smaller pieces.”
He even learned things directly from Chef Gordon Ramsay himself.
“He was a bit crazy, funny, sometimes angry,” Alfred said. “He helped me on the show, along with prepping dishes.”
While he was filming for the show, Alfred felt both nervous and excited. He was nervous while they were all cooking at once and when Ramsay would yell at him. But he was excited when he met the judges – Ramsay, Tilly Ramsay, Aaron Sanchez and Daphne Oz.
While he learned a lot about cooking while on the show, he also continued with school work through tutors on set. Sue said Alfred was named student of the month in January for keeping up his grades throughout the fall semester, despite being so far from home.
After returning home, Alfred kept in touch with his best friends from the show – Bryson, Miles, Remy and Asher – and Sue kept in touch with the parents from the show as she spent most of her time with them during filming.
Through conversation, Alfred told his friends his stove at home was on the fritz. After Alfred and Sue got home, the parents of kids on the show got together and purchased a new stove for the Eggermont household and had it delivered.
“Basically, it just magically appeared in my kitchen,” Alfred said.
One picture on his Instagram page shows Alfred kissing the stove when he got home from school the day it arrived. Their previous appliance only had two properly working burners and the oven wasn’t working right. Despite this, Alfred still made amazing meals.
“I was extremely excited,” Alfred said.
He has not let all the attention go to his head. He still has other activities and obligations. He participates in cross country, track and archery through school, and also spends time teaching his 9-year-old sister, Alana, how to cook. They can often be found in the kitchen working on supper or making a sweet treat.
“They cook in peace and argue over everything else,” Sue said with a laugh.
“It’s been fun,” Alfred added. “She’s learning a lot.”
Alfred spent last weekend in the kitchen preparing a spread of food to serve at his watch party on Monday, March 4. Friends and family gathered at Cornerstone Cafe in Cooperstown, N.D., the town in which Alfred and Alana attend school. While Great-grandma JoAnn Hanson couldn’t be with them, she was so excited about Alfred’s national TV debut, he said.
Master Chef Jr. airs on FOX stations each Monday at 7 p.m. through the next few months. If you miss the regular airing, Master Chef Jr. is also on Hulu and the new episodes appear on Hulu the day after they air on the network.
To follow Alfred on Instagram, you can find his account @AlfredKidChef.

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