Meet the Contestants on the Season Premiere of MASTERCHEF JUNIOR, Premiering on FOX 2/9

Meet the Contestants on the Season Premiere of MASTERCHEF JUNIOR, Premiering on FOX 2/9The kids are back for Season Five of the hit culinary competition series MASTERCHEF JUNIOR, premiering Thursday, Feb. 9 (8:00-9:00 PM ET/PT) on FOX. Judges Chef Gordon Ramsay and Chef Christina Tosi welcome the latest crop of junior home cooks to the MASTERCHEF JUNIOR kitchen, where they will compete for the MASTERCHEF JUNIOR trophy and the $100,000 grand prize.

After a nationwide search, 40 of the best junior home cooks between the ages of eight and thirteen have been chosen for their final test - a culinary battle in the MASTERCHEF JUNIOR kitchen in front of Chefs Gordon Ramsay and Christina Tosi. Only THE 20 best chef-testants who prove they have the chops to take home the trophy will move forward and earn a MASTERCHEF JUNIOR white apron.

This season, the kids will face exciting challenges, including completing a challenge from First Lady Michelle Obama; cooking a meal for more than 50 first responders; MASTERCHEF JUNIOR's first-ever vegan challenge, from guest judge Mayim Bialik ("The Big Bang Theory"); and cooking for other VIPs, including Julie Bowen ("Modern Family") and Muppets "Miss Piggy" and "Swedish Chef," until one talented kid is named America's next MASTERCHEF JUNIOR, taking home the MASTERCHEF JUNIOR trophy and $100,000 grand prize.

In the season premiere episode, "The Quest for an Apron Part 1," 40 junior home cooks come to Los Angeles ready to compete for a MASTERCHEF JUNIOR apron. In each culinary showdown, four chefs receive a unique challenge - from steak, to scallops to cupcakes. Two lucky winners from each group earn an apron and a chance to move on, while two head back home. The competition is tougher than ever as Gordon and Christina separate the best junior chefs from all the rest. All Top 20 contestants will be revealed in the following episode, "The Quest for an Apron Part 2," airing Thursday, Feb. 16 (8:00-9:00 PM ET/PT) on FOX.

Watch a first look at this season, featuring the MASTERCHEF JUNIOR Top 40:

Meet the MASTERCHEF JUNIOR Top 40 and find out their signature dishes:



Age: 12

Hometown: Sacramento, CA

Signature Dish: Chicken Kiev with Parmesan Potatoes and Asparagus



Age: 12

Hometown: Jonesboro, GA

Signature Dish: Surf and Turf with Asparagus and Mashed Potatoes



Age: 11

Hometown: Houston, TX

Signature Dish: Buffalo Meatballs with Tomato Sauce



Age: 8

Hometown: Chicago, IL

Signature Dish: Coconut Curry Chicken Over Jasmine Rice



Age: 9

Hometown: Staten Island, NY

Signature Dish: Fried Plantains with Columbian Cheese



Age: 9

Hometown: Chicago, IL

Signature Dish: Apple Cinnamon Pancakes



Age: 9

Hometown: Grand Junction, CO

Signature Dish: Smoked Pulled Pork with Peach Barbecue Sauce



Age: 10

Hometown: Douglas, GA

Signature Dish: Swiss Chard Wrapped Salmon with Rice Curry



Age: 10

Hometown: Brooklyn, NY

Signature Dish: Roasted Lamb Chops with a Mint and Lemon Marinade and Roasted Potatoes



Age: 9

Hometown: Brooklyn, NY

Signature Dish: Vegetable Stir Fry with Squid



Age: 9

Hometown: Brooklyn, NY

Signature Dish: Oven Baked Atlantic Salmon with Fettuccine and Cream Sauce



Age: 9

Hometown: New York, NY

Signature Dish: Spaghetti with Meatballs and Marinara Sauce



Age: 9

Hometown: Sweetwater, TX

Signature Dish: Chicken Alfredo