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Turning Up the Heat

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Freshman Shayne Wells drizzles a gravy sauce over his chicken fried steak.

Freshman Shayne Wells drizzles a gravy sauce over his chicken fried steak.

Tess Orr

Tess Orr

Freshman Shayne Wells drizzles a gravy sauce over his chicken fried steak.

Malarie Ohrabka, Editor-in-Chief

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He turns on the stove, allowing the blue and orange flame to erupt and sear his dish to the point of a perfect caramelization. The aroma of his food fills the room as he cautiously wipes off beads of sweat and prepares to serve his dish to the judges.

Freshman Shayne Wells starred on FOX’s fifth season of MasterChef Junior in the fall of 2017. While on the show, Shayne was popularly known as his nickname, Shayne “The Train,” and he advanced to the semi-finals of the entire show.

“On [MasterChef Junior], there were 40 contestants, and I got to the top four out of 40,” Shayne said. “I was just expecting to be there and have a good time, not really thinking of making it far until there was a big cut going from 40 contestants to 20. So I was really nervous about that, but once I got there, I was like, ‘Dang. I can do this. I can really compete in this competition. I have a chance.’ So then when I got to around top 10 and top eight, that’s when it started kicking in that I could win this.”

In his seventh grade year, Shayne received news that he did not make the Schindewolf Intermediate basketball team while his brother did. In attempt to make Shayne feel better, his mother, Shelley Wells, took him to downtown Houston to attend a MasterChef Junior open call.

“On that same Saturday [when I found out I didn’t make the basketball team], they had MasterChef Junior open calls,” Shayne said. “So I was a little bummed, and my mom said to get my mind off of things, we could go to the MasterChef Junior open call. I wasn’t expecting much: just to have a good time and forget about things. There were thousands of kids there.”

According to Shelley, the audition process for MasterChef Junior at the open call was very unique.

“Parents weren’t allowed to go back with [the kids],” Shelley said. “They took them back in groups and did [the audition], so you’re just kinda sitting outside waiting and going, ‘I wonder what’s going on.’ [Producers of the show] talked with us as well. They wanted to make sure we were all a good fit for the show.”

For the initial audition process, all children who attended were asked to cook an egg any way they wished. Shayne, knowing that everyone was either going to scramble or fry the egg, decided to go against the norm and poach it.

“I decided to poach [the egg], and that turned out very well,” Shayne said. “So they did the interview. They said, ‘If you get a callback, which most of you won’t, it will be within a good two weeks.’ I got a callback within the hour. Then it just kept going on and on from there.”

Shayne was eliminated from the show in the semi-finals episode, meaning he starred on the show for a total of 14 out of 15 episodes.

“[Getting eliminated from the show] was sad for me of course,” Shayne said. “But just knowing how far I made it and how many kids wish they could have made it that far, I felt pretty accomplished. [I also] met new friends I would never meet otherwise that share a passion for something that I enjoy and love to do.”

Upon elimination, Shayne left Los Angeles where MasterChef Junior was filmed and returned to his home in Spring, Texas. According to sophomore Kade Trujillo, Shayne’s friend who followed him closely on the show, life for Shayne was a little different when he returned.

“When he came back, he kind of thought he was big and bad because he was on MasterChef,” Trujillo said. “But we just treated him like he was normal, and his mom always told him, ‘You’re just Shayne here; You’re not the big superstar like you were in Hollywood.’ Shayne is still the same person: kinda crazy and outgoing. But the only kind of weird thing is that he gets a lot of people coming up to him and asking for pictures and asking about the show.”

According to Shayne, getting eliminated from MasterChef Junior has not deterred his desire to pursue a culinary career in the future, and his love for cooking continues.

“I love to cook whenever I get the chance,” Shayne said. “I love it when you give someone a good meal and you see that smile on their face. I do want to keep cooking when I am older, and I either want to own my own restaurant or have my own cooking TV show. [Also}, I thank that [Schindewolf basketball] coach to this day for not putting me on that basketball team, or I would have never had the opportunity [of auditioning for MasterChef Junior].”

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Klein Collins High School | Spring, TX
Turning Up the Heat