Logan Hagene, a fifth grader at the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Literary and Fine Arts school, has been cooking since he was just 2 years old. His passion for food has led to a successful YouTube channel, several appearances on the Steve Harvey Show, and most recently, he was a contestant on the currently airing season of Master Chef Junior.
Logan told the RoundTable how it all began. “I was two years old and I remember watching my mom at the stove making scrambled eggs. To me it looked like she was doing something completely amazing. It was like magic!”
Logan asked his mom if he could try. She pulled out a stool for him. “The stove was so big,” he recalled. “She let me scramble the egg; and I was mesmerized.”
Aysha Hagene, Logan’s mom, recognized her son’s unique interest and helped cultivate his passion by allow-ing him to participate in the daily meal planning and cooking. Today, at the age of 11, Logan does the majority of the household cooking and has even learned to accommodate his mother’s recently acquired gluten intolerance. While his signature dish is salmon tacos with pineapple salsa, Logan’s broad repertoire and diverse cooking techniques landed him a coveted spot on the most recent season of Master Chef Junior.
Logan and his mother had been fans of the show for some time. One evening, Logan casually mentioned to
his mother how much fun it would be to get on the show. Ms. Hagene looked into it and discovered that auditions were being held in Chicago the very next day.
After several rigorous auditions over the next few months, Logan and his mother eventually learned he had made the cut. When Logan was told that he would be one of 40 children selected from a pool of 24,000 applicants nationwide, he was stunned.
“Twenty-four thousand kids is a really big number,” Logan said. “I couldn’t believe I had been chosen and would be going to L.A.”
Logan’s dynamic personality and unique resume have no doubt been influencing
factors to his success. At the age of 8, Logan became a national finalist for Uncle Ben’s “Ben’s Beginner’s Cooking Contest.” He was among 25 finalists competing to win a $30,000 cafeteria makeover for his school. Although his Tofu and Flaxseed Uncle Ben’s Fried Rice recipe did not win first place, he was named a runner-up and won a new drinking fountain for his school.
In 2014, Logan had an opportunity to appear on the Steve Harvey Show for a Halloween special. The show’s producers were so impressed by Logan that he was asked back two other times to participate in cooking segments. The first time he returned to the show, Logan made chicken taquitos in an on-air cooking demonstration. The second time, Logan was asked to be a part of a panel of chefs that included Rick Bayless, Art Smith, and Rachel Ray.
“That was really cool to be sitting next to chefs I had looked up to my whole life,” he said.
While he was not the ultimate winner of Master Chef Junior (the show is still airing), Logan said he was not too disappointed by the loss.
“I knew it was special to even be selected, and it was a great experience,” he said. “I wasn’t sad. I made a lot of new friends, and we still stay in touch.”
“I watched him compete on the show, and what impressed me the most was his ability to stay focused and calm,” said Ms. Hagene. “It was an extraordinary experience for both of us.”
Logan continues to share his expertise on his YouTube channel @chefloganofchicago. Logan’s ultimate goal is to inspire other kids to cook. His motto is “Kids, Keep Cooking.”
“I look to inspire kids to cook the way my mom inspired me,” he said. “If I think of it as just me cooking, it’s just that. If I think of it as me inspiring other kids, it feels much bigger. I love helping kids feel they can do anything they want to do.”
Logan said he plans to continue to cook and hopes to be a famous chef one day. It seems he is well on his way.