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Youngster on Holiday Edition of MasterChef Junior Has Alexandria Ties

Grandparents Virginia Amos and Michael Bergin are Alexandria Realtors

Young boy wearing gold apron that says MasterChef Junior
10-year-old Cary, North Carolina resident, Emerson Pauley, competes on
MASTERCHEF JUNIOR: Home for the Holidays. (Photo: FOX)

ALEXANDRIA, VA – A “Home for the Holidays” special edition of MasterChef Junior with Gordon Ramsay and his daughter, Tilly, features Emerson Pauley, a young chef with Alexandria ties.

Emerson is the 10-year-old grandson of Alexandria realtors Virginia Amos and Michael Bergin. Pauley was chosen among 1,200 applicants to be among the nine young culinary competitors for the show, airing Sunday and Monday, December 10 and 11, at 8:00 p.m. on Fox.

“He was only 9 when the show was filmed,” said proud grandmother Virginia, who added that it was probably his social media accounts that first got him noticed by the show.

The son of Taite* and Jonathan Pauley, Emerson is a popular creator of digital content, with more than 1,400 followers on Instagram, and a YouTube channel, where you can catch his standup comedy as well as a preview of the show.

Emerson refers to himself on his Instagram page as a comedian, kid chef and baseball lover. He is also known for his enthusiastic and winning personality. It’s that sparkling personality, at least in part, that helped him win a spot in the upcoming competition, according to his grandparents, who are looking forward to learning more about his culinary talents watching this weekend’s double-header shows!

Emerson and his competitors are vying for the title of MasterChef Junior where the winner takes home the $25,000 grand prize, a Viking Kitchen package, and the MasterChef snow globe trophy. The young chefs will compete to see who can create the best holiday snacks related to Hanukkah, Christmas, Kwanzaa and Lunar New Year.

MasterChef judges also include Chef Gordon Ramsay’s 22-year-old daughter, Tilly, a cookbook author and chef in her own right, MasterChef regulars Daphne Oz and Aarón Sánchez. The show was filmed in Los Angeles.

In an interview for this month’s issue of Cary Magazine, Emerson says he’s been cooking and helping his parents in the kitchen since he was about 3 years old! He started by peeling eggs and making deviled eggs and pies during the holidays. “My mom, dad, and grandparents taught me to cook. I have also taken a few cooking classes, which were tons of fun,” Emerson said.

In the first half of the two-episode opener, the grade school gourmets create cultural dishes inspired by their family traditions, and the results are impressive. (How many 8-year-olds can make Chinese New Year dumplings?!)

Even though three junior chefs will wind up having to hand in their golden aprons in the first night of competition aired, Tilly and the team make sure the kids are alright before they go.

“We remind them it’s amazing how far they’ve come,” said Tilly in an interview for Cary Magazine. “They’ve made it into the MasterChef kitchen and beaten thousands of people!” Plus, they can expect some special prizes. Says Gordon in that interview: “We wanted them to leave with smiles on their faces, especially over the holidays.” The second hour of the competition features a holiday pie-making challenge.

After the show airs on Fox, the special will be available on Hulu.

Good Luck Emerson! Alexandria is pulling for you and we’ll be taking notes on your recipes too!

*Many Alexandrians may know Emerson’s mother, Taite Bergin Pauley. After graduating from Marshall University, Taite moved to Northern Virginia to be closer to her parents and get her master’s degree from George Mason University. She then worked for the Cohen Group in Washington for several years before relocating to Southern California where she met her future husband, Jonathan. Now living in Cary, North Carolina, and working for a Paris-based consulting firm, she travels to Alexandria frequently for business. Grandmother Virginia Amos adds, “Emerson was also baptized at Christ Church in Alexandria, Virginia.”

[SEE ALSO: Early Voting Begins Dec. 11 for School Board Special Election[

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