A show from the late 2000s once asked, Are You Smarter Than a Fifth Grader? I never really questioned whether I was until one December day in 2015 when MasterChef Junior proved that, while I may be smarter, I clearly cannot cook like a fifth grader. At the same age I was proud of making blue-box mac and cheese, these eight- to 12-year-old contestants were tasked with making a croquembouche. As a 30-year-old with some interest in cooking and baking, I had normally at least heard of the things these little chefs were creating, but this was intimidating to look at… I couldn’t even imagine being asked to bake let alone build this.
Now on its sixth season, each crop of mini-chefs is better than the last. This season, nine-year-old Beni won with a final meal of smoked salmon with corn blini, grilled veal chop with beet-potato fondant and mustard cream sauce, and a deconstructed apple tartlet for dessert. Seriously, as a fourth grader.
Many of these kids already are dreaming of the restaurants where they will bring their culinary creations to market. Inspired by the young minds and palates, I found four contestants with restaurants I’m anxiously awaiting to frequent, so I decided to offer them a head start on their branding.
Addison, Age 9
Addison, with her signature backwards baseball caps, performed so consistently she easily won the most competitions in her season. She never cooked without one of her signature backwards caps, and loved softball. She had a dream to open Batter Up Bakery–a bakery in front with batting cages out back.
A whisk and a bat have similar shapes, so that was where I started building a brand with a dual focus: an exclamation point to mimic the excitement of a game and a ballpark-esque font that makes you feel like you’re in the park. I never took an official count, but it seemed to me that Addison favored her purple cap, so it seemed fitting to complement her colorful creations with the royal two-tone, as she was crowned winner of season 4.
HORSES & COURSES
Abby, Age 8
Abby was the youngest contestant to appear in her season but she never let the lights, cameras, challenges, or the most famous professional chefs intimidate her. Abby had her plan and she would execute.
Abby once made a meal with TWO INGREDIENTS: poached salmon with asparagus five-ways. (Did you even know there were that many ways to cook asparagus!? I didn’t.)
Abby wants to open a dual restaurant/animal clinic called Horses & Courses. I imagine some patrons might be concerned with pet dander and hair flying around, so I’d suggest she think about going more of a Trader’s Point Creamery route: an upscale tapas-style restaurant on a horse farm.
That’s where I started in thinking about her brand. Abby’s idea deserves a logo that is as elegant and refined as her cooking style. The serif typeface and ornamental ampersand dress up the rustic, stable feel of the horse farm locale, allowing diners to take in the atmosphere and the food in their elegant, but not fancy, form.
Jack, Age 10
Season 1 gave us a 10-year-old with more Hawaiian shirts than Jimmy Buffet. When Jack became stressed, instead of breaking plates and yelling (no shade, Gordon), he would pray to the Hawaiian gods.
The restaurant logo I created for Jack features energetic but restrained colors with a nod to his favorite fruit, the pineapple. Using a bold, geometric font, I tried to capture his playful vibe for a fast-casual dining experience featuring burgers, sandwiches, and salads topped with pineapple, teriyaki, and other tropical flavors.
Mikey, Age 10
This latest season introduced a new twist, The Golden Apron. The winner of this challenge received a ticket straight to the semi-finals. Mikey won the inaugural Gold Apron for his chocolate hazelnut cheesecake (made entirely from canned goods!).
His most successful dishes typically drew inspiration from his Italian heritage, from cannolis to raviolis, so it wasn’t a huge surprise when he confessed he wanted to open a build-your-own pasta bar which I’m imagining like a Chipotle in Sicily (of which he’s heard).
Mikey’s kitchen uniform was spiked hair and popped collars, so I wanted him to have a clean and sharp logo with some flair to match. The geometric sans-serif gives the logo a modern, efficient feel to echo the on-the-go nature of the restaurant.
I haven’t reached out to any of the chefs, since we’re probably still a few years out until any MasterChef Junior restaurant could become reality. But when they’re ready, I’ll be here for any branding needs they may have.
I will accept payment in the form of croquembouche.