A Jewish contestant on the Mexican version of MasterChef Junior didn’t push her faith to the back burner, even when it meant cooking with a treyf ingredient.
Batia Bresca, a 13-year-old from Mexico City, recently made the news when she whipped up a pork dish on the cooking show. Although she didn’t sample her culinary creation (which was successful enough to allow her to advance to the next phase of the competition), a judge questioned why she did not eat the treyf meat. Bresca, who mentioned Jewish dietary laws in her explanation, will have to cook seafood and other non-kosher things as the competition progresses.
“I’m going to have to try [the non-kosher food] and my grandfather is going to kill me. That’s the end for me,” Batia said on the show.
In addition to Bresca, a handful of Jewish contestants have appeared on MasterChef’s other international iterations in the U.S., Israel (naturally!), and beyond. Some have discussed kashrut during interviews, but it appears that Bresca was the most vocal about Jewish dietary laws on air.
Sharone Hakman, who was a contestant on the first U.S. season of MasterChef in 2010, launched a successful line of barbecue sauces. Although there’s no word on whether or not his condiments are kosher, Hakman did cook up a mean Thanksgivukkah feast.
2012 MasterChef Australia contestant Alice Zaslavsky, a former secondary school teacher who now describes herself as an “edible adventurer,” wrote a cookbook and hosts cooking shows for kids and tweens. When the Australian reality TV blog Reality Ravings asked her why she didn’t seem to mind cooking pork during the competition, she said that she was “Jew-ish.”
Meanwhile, MasterChef Israel drew international attention in 2013 when participants from around the world were allowed to compete, including Jackie Azoulay, an Orthodox Jewish woman of Moroccan descent, and the season’s winner, Tom Franz, a native of Cologne, Germany who had converted to Judaism.
Finally, in the U.K., where MasterChef originated, Emma Spitzer was one of two 2015 runner-ups. Spitzer has cited her Jewish mother and her Israeli mother-in-law as inspiration, in addition to Jewish Egyptian-born cookbook author and cultural anthropologist Claudia Roden and Israeli-British chef and restaurateur Yotam Ottolenghi. Alex Dome, whose father is a rabbi in Manchester, competed in the spin-off series MasterChef: The Professionals the same year.
Zoe Miller is Tablet’s editorial intern. Follow her on Twitter here.