Many of us have kids who like to experiment in the kitchen, but often, the results are chocolate-chip cookies or brownies. There aren’t too many 10-year-olds who spent the summer perfecting their raspberry cheesecake.
But that’s what Cow Hollow resident and Cathedral School for Boys sixth grader Gavin Pola did. Gavin is one of 24 kitchen-savvy kids from around the country between the ages of 8 and 13 currently appearing on Masterchef Junior, Fox TV’s new show highlighting the talents of these budding chefs. Similar to the popular Masterchef show, the junior chefs are judged on their best seafood, pasta, or dessert by star chef Gordon Ramsay, restaurateur and winemaker Joe Bastianich, and chef Graham Elliot. At press time, the enthusiastic and articulate Gavin was still in the race.
Gavin says his love of food and cooking started with going out to eat with his family. “There are so many great restaurants in San Francisco,” he says, “and so many foodies. I just love going to different restaurants and saying, ‘Oh, that looks good,’ and then I go home and try to recreate it, but make it even better. It’s kind of like a game for me; can I make a dish even more delicious than the restaurant?”
In addition to cooking, Gavin is also interested in acting and appeared in ACT’s A Christmas Carol last winter. Right now, though, he’s busy with cooking and schoolwork. And even though Masterchef Junior was taped last April, Gavin says he stays in touch with his fellow contestants. “I made so many friends doing the show,” he says. “We were like a family.”
Gavin counts some of his neighborhood eateries among his favorites here in the city. “I love the Balboa Cafe,” he says. “Their burger is so good, and I also love Isa and the sushi at Ace Wasabi.”
But his favorite haunt is North Beach. “I’m a big fan of Italian food,” he says emphatically. “Especially fresh pasta.”
And yes, Gavin makes his own fresh pasta at home.