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Editor's Note: Bryson McGlynn won Season 9 of FOX's "MasterChef Junior" on May 20.


Auburn has become synonymous with some of the nation’s best food scenes with the addition of the university’s Tony and Libba Rane Culinary Science Center and numerous local restaurants that rank among the best across the state and country.

But there’s a new kid on the block who’s adding a unique flavor to the plate and the Plains.

Bryson McGlynn, a sixth-grader at Fox Run School in Opelika and the son of Auburn alumni Shannon, ’07 biochemistry, and Mike, ’08 music education, is now one of the final three contestants on FOX’s “MasterChef Junior,” hosted by chefs Gordon Ramsay, Aaron Sanchez, Daphne Oz and Tilly Ramsay, daughter of Gordon.

To celebrate this amazing achievement, the Auburn University Rane Culinary Science Center will host a watch party Monday, May 13, on the Hey Day Market Lawn starting with a meet-and-greet at 5:30 p.m. Showtime begins at 7 p.m. The public is invited to attend and encouraged to bring lawn chairs.

“This whole journey has been so exciting,” Bryson said. “And each week, I feel like I can relive each moment again. It was really hard just to get on the show, and to be in the final three is crazy.”

Bryson McGlynn cooking in the MasterChef Junior kitchen

Bryson McGlynn, a 12-year-old from Auburn, has exhibited his cooking skills on the latest season of the FOX series, "MasterChef Junior." He is the son of two Auburn alumni. Photo courtesy of FOX.

Bryson was one of 12 contestants who qualified for the show back in the fall after auditioning for producers who noticed his social media account “Cooking with Cheese Curd,” in which he posts short, fun videos whipping up some of his favorite dishes. Bryson’s nickname — “Cheese Curd” — comes as a nod to his father, Mike, who runs the social media account and is nicknamed “Cheese” since he grew up in Wisconsin.

“It’s been awesome to see Bryson grow not only in his culinary journey, but through his character and staying true to himself,” Mike said. “It’s a dream come true for a father.”

Bryson’s love for cooking also comes from his dad. The two started sharing their passion several years ago when Bryson began entering the kids’ division of cooking competitions when his father would travel to participate in events.

“I’m extremely proud of him,” Shannon said. “When he was 2, he would push up his chair to help when we were cooking. It’s been neat to see his love for cooking grow, and to get to do it with his dad along the way has been special.”

Bryson started off the hit series on Fox on fire, winning the first episode’s “Eating Emoji” challenge in which each contestant drew an emoji ball and then had to cook a meal that reminded them of the emoji. Bryson drew the “cool sunglasses emoji,” and decided to cook a meal consisting of a ribeye cap with white truffle potatoes, Manchego cheese, broccolini and a compound butter in honor of his dad, who taught him to cook steaks. For winning the episode, Bryson was safe from elimination while also winning a family trip to Las Vegas.

In episode 2, “Under the Sea,” each contestant was given seaweed to work with, and Bryson decided to make a tuna steak with seaweed salad. While he didn’t win the episode nor make the top three, he wasn’t named in the bottom three, thus avoiding elimination.

In episode 3, the contestants had the privilege of cooking for members of the Harlem Globetrotters basketball team. In this challenge, the contestants were divided into two teams and had to cook a meal featuring a protein, two sides, a starch and sauce, as well as a vegan dish. Bryson’s team lost the challenge, but he again avoided elimination as he was a shining star in the losing effort with Ramsay praising him for saving his team with his help cooking the steaks when called upon in the final minutes. The lone vegan on the Globetrotters team also heaped praise on Bryson’s vegan dish — which Bryson was assigned — saying she wanted a to-go box and wanted to order it in a restaurant.

Episode 4, “Magic Castle,” was also a team challenge, but this time Bryson’s team emerged victorious, marking him safe for another week. In this episode, Bryson avoided elimination, but he didn’t avoid Ramsay’s wrath. With the team struggling on time and preparation, Ramsay became frustrated with the doneness of a pork chop that had yet to be put into the oven and hurled the half-cooked swine over Bryson’s head, much to his surprise. The team regrouped after the mishap and won the challenge.

In the next episode, the contestants got a taste of their own medicine when they were shocked to each find a dish they despised in their mystery box. In Bryson’s box was a southern staple — lima beans — something he’s grown to hate after being served the lunchroom legumes over and over and over again. He pressed on, however, making a delicious meal of a rack of lamb with a side succotash. The meal earned him a safe spot, again avoiding elimination.

In episode 6, “Pancakes and Ice Cream,” Bryson and pancake partner Asher Niles, 8, nearly won the quantity and quality pancake challenge, but came up just a stack short, thus forcing them into the ice cream elimination along with Alfred Eggermont and Remy Powell. Bryson’s dessert of a sweet cornbread topped with a peach compote and butter pecan ice cream wowed the judges and secured his spot into the top five.

Episode 7 was a revisit of episode 1, with the contestants being challenged to elevate the dish they cooked in episode 1 into a restaurant-quality meal. While Bryson had the upper hand, having won the first episode, he didn’t fair as well the second time around. However, his steak, potatoes and greens were still good enough to mark him safe, moving him into the top four.

Show Your Support for Bryson

The Tony and Libba Rane Culinary Science Center will host a watch party of "MasterChef Junior" on Monday, May 13, on the Hey Day Market Lawn starting with a meet-and-greet at 5:30 p.m. Showtime begins at 7 p.m. The public is invited to attend and encouraged to bring lawn chairs.

Hey Auburn!

In Monday’s semifinal episode, Bryson advanced to the finals, but by the “duck” skin of his teeth. In the challenge, the contestants received a hands-on demonstration by Ramsay as he broke down a duck and they had to mimic his dish in real time. Although Bryson was criticized for the plating of his dish, the temperature and cook on his duck breast propelled him to the final spot, securing his place for the final two-part episode May 13 and May 20.

Bryson’s success on the show also comes as no surprise to some local chefs and culinary business owners, including David Bancroft, owner of Acre, Bow and Arrow and winner of Food Network’s “Iron Chef Showdown” versus chef Jose Garces in 2017. Bancroft has known the McGlynns for years, having watched Bryson grow up playing baseball with his son.

“He would tell me about the steaks he was cooking, the seasonings he was trying out and the new charcoal he was going to use,” Bancroft said. “To see him now, on this national stage, this is amazing. His professionalism has shown that his maturation is way beyond his age. This is his time to shine.”

Whitley Dykes, who is a neighbor of the McGlynns and also owns downtown Auburn restaurant Irritable Bao that is famous for partnering with other restaurants in the area to create a unique local flair, agrees.

“I’m so proud of what this amazing kid, who comes from a phenomenal family, has done,” Dykes said. “I just can’t wait to collaborate with him and see what he can come up with next.”

So, will Bryson win the trophy, the $100,000 prize and the title of MasterChef Junior?

“I’m going head-to-head with some of the best junior chefs in the world," Bryson said. “It would be really tough to outlast these amazing chefs, and I’m so thankful for all the support I’ve received, but you’ll have to keep watching to find out.”