Speaking to 10 play ahead of the season premiere, Jock explained that it was his wardrobe that saw the biggest shake-up.
“I’m more casually dressed which, for me, was a big change!” Jock said, adding, “It seemed pointless for me to be in a three-piece suit with children. I would have been like the headmaster!”
Having a few weeks between his debut season as a judge alongside Melissa Leong and Andy Allen, Jock said coming back into the MasterChef kitchen with the junior chefs was “like a new start”.
“It was different, more relaxed. We were dressed more relaxed, our demeanour was more relaxed but it was still the same kind of fun challenges that everyone expects; Mystery Boxes, Immunity Challenges and eliminations.”
While Jock initially didn’t know what to expect from the kids, he said it almost immediately became clear that these mini-chefs were in the MasterChef kitchen to learn and prove themselves as much as they could.
“They were asking for feedback,” Jock continued, “asking for constructive criticism. And if they felt like you were being a bit light-on, when the cameras were off they’d talk to you and say, ‘Tell me what was wrong with this. Was it just absolutely rubbish? How could I have made it better?’
“They really wanted to improve their cooking. They wanted that criticism and took it, on and off the camera, like little legends. It was really surprising.”
Describing himself as “a dinosaur compared to some of the kids”, Jock said the surprised kept coming when he toured the kitchen, asking where they got their inspiration or learned how to do some of the techniques on display.
“Obviously YouTube wasn’t around when I was learning how to cook and to hear these young cooks, off their own backs, are engaging with learning in such a way and doing it with a great level of success. I find it inspiring and incredible.”
A parent to two-and-a-half-year-old Alfie, Jock also said being in the kitchen surrounded by hungry young minds was another inspiring part of filming.
“Alfie’s got a tear-off thing where he stands and pretends to cook when I’m in the kitchen, he’s not at the age where he can follow a recipe at all but he loves when there’s a food program on television,” Jock said.
“He’s glued to it, can’t take his eyes off it because he loves the idea of food, he watched his papa cook in the kitchen all day long and I think [MasterChef Junior], particularly, will engage children because they’re watching children their age conquer a task or a challenge in the kitchen.
“Children are going to be engaged and, in turn, what I hope happens is that they engage their parents to spend a bit of time with them in the kitchen. I think that’s only going to have a positive impact on any family.”
Junior MasterChef Australia premieres 7.30 Sunday, October 11 on 10 and 10 play