Opinion: Young chef follows family recipe for success

February 29, 2024

This coming Monday night, you can bet a lot of TVs will be tuned in to of Yakima take part in this season’s “MasterChef Junior” competition on FOX.

Asher is one of 16 young cooks — ages 8-13 — trying to win $100,000 by impressing host, executive producer and celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay, as well as the other judges on the show. The contestants will go through a series of challenges that will put their kitchen skills and creativity to the test.

It’s become something of a family tradition at Asher’s house.

His dad, Shawn Niles — Yakima’s “Fat Pastor” — was among 40 cooks who competed on Ramsay’s “MasterChef” show in 2017.

Now it’s Asher’s turn, and his pop had every reason to be proud as he announced the news :

“I can’t wait for you to see what he’s capable of! Now we both have met and cooked for Gordon Ramsay — let’s see if he can take it farther than I did!”

Shawn Niles didn’t take the grand prize when he was on the program, but his culinary creations have earned him quite a following around here just the same.

In a , he described bonding with his own father over cooking — especially preparing big special meals, such as Thanksgiving dinners — during his boyhood in Yakima.

“To me, it’s just relations,” he told the paper back then. “You can build relationships with anybody over food.”

Maybe he’s right. As a pastor and youth leader, the elder Niles has used food to connect with people all over the Yakima Valley.

Clearly, that familial love for cooking has wafted down to Asher, who’s already of his own as he steps into the spotlight.

And who knows? After next week, he might be one of the richest 8-year-olds in Yakima.

“MasterChef Junior” is scheduled to air at 8 p.m. Monday on FOX, and on Hulu the next day. Unless you’re Asher or his dad, maybe you can pick up a pizza and some chips to eat while you watch.

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