MasterChef Junior Season 8: Release Date, Contestants, And More - What We Know So Far

FOX's "MasterChef" spinoff, "MasterChef Junior," has been a success since it debuted back in 2013. This should come as no surprise to even the most casual viewer — after all, there's so much to like about the program: All the food, challenges, competition, drama, judges, and guest stars of the original Gordon Ramsay show; plus some adorable, charming, and surprisingly talented young cheftestants.

If you've seen "MasterChef Junior," you know that each season begins with 24 competitors, aged eight to 13, competing to for the title of MasterChef Junior (via IMDb). If the upcoming season is anything like the previous seven, the competition will show how kid chefs can give the adults a run for their money in the MasterChef kitchen, especially under the surprisingly nurturing tutelage of the normally bombastic Gordon Ramsay.

The talent level of these kids seems to grow more impressive every year. We don't know about you, but we're looking forward to seeing what the new cohort of young chefs came up with when Season 8 finally airs. Here's what we know so far about the upcoming "MasterChef Junior" season.

When will Season 8 be released?

While the upcoming season of "MasterChef Junior" has finished filming and been on the books for quite some time, the show is perplexingly still waiting on its release date (via Parade). The "MasterChef Junior" website and Facebook page have been mum on the subject, though they do appear to be regularly updated.

Somewhat confoundingly, Season 8 had been slated for broadcast by FOX in the fall of 2020 at 9:00 p.m. Eastern, in the time slot immediately following "The Masked Singer." When announcing the fall schedule in May of 2020, many confidently called the FOX lineup "pandemic-proof," ostensibly because of already-filmed reality shows like "MasterChef Junior" (via New York Post). For reasons the network did not explain, however, the popular cooking competition was removed from the schedule. The move has naturally left many "MasterChef Junior" fans worried they might never see Season 8, or any other, for that matter. With no official updates, fans will have to wait and watch for an announcement from FOX. In the meantime, we'll have to settle for revisiting Seasons 1 through 7.

The judges are changing for Season 8

"MasterChef Junior" judge Christina Tosi will not be retuning for Season 8. Taking her place is Daphne Oz, daughter of television host Dr. Mehmet Oz (per Variety). Oz joins returning judges Aarón Sánchez and (of course) Gordon Ramsay. In a promotional video for the season released in July of 2019, Oz can be seen chatting with her own children about her upcoming role (via Twitter). Seated around the kitchen table, Oz asks them: "Are we going to learn a lot from these kids? Are we going to become better cooks from watching these kids and learn how to cook themselves?"

Daphne Oz certainly isn't new to TV, having made several appearances on her father's "The Dr. Oz Show," as well as was previously co-hosting "The Chew" on ABC. She also co-hosted the podcast "Mom Brain" with Hilaria Baldwin (via Apple Podcasts).

It's no surprise Sánchez is returning to Season 8 of "MasterChef Junior," as the chef told Parade "The talent level and how prepared these young people are ... is really phenomenal," adding that he is amazed by how the competitors find meaning and joy in feeding others. A successful chef and restaurateur, Sánchez is also a father, and says he is unable to see a downside to mentoring young people — though, like many "MasterChef Junior" fans, he hates the eliminations and says he worries about "how fragile and emotionally susceptible [the young contestants] could be. So, that's the one part that really stinks."

The contestants will face special challenges in Season 8

In Season 8 of "MasterChef Junior," the young cheftestants take to the road in a series of special challenges. According to Variety, the contestants cook at a few different locations and events, including a renaissance fair and a motocross race. Gordon Ramsay's daughter Tilly will even make a guest appearance for a donut challenge! 

What else can we expect from Season 8? A 30-second promotional video on IMDb doesn't reveal much for fans to chew on, but we do get a look at the contestants and what the new season will bring (including impressive knife skills, a few flare-ups, and an "ew"-inducing moment involving what looks like an eel). In the clip, we see the young chefs learning about the cuts of beef and Ramsay calling out (and spitting out) out what looks like a piece of under-cooked meat. The trailer wraps with a pearl-clad child whose apron bears the name "Ivy" promising "a lot of drama." And, tbh, isn't that part of the reason we watch?