Local Teen’s MasterChef Memories Have Marinated for Five Years

Former contestant Sydney Neuser talks about her time on TV and whether she still wants to be a professional chef

By Kayla Lemens, Editor in Chief

Five years ago today, West Bend’s Sydney “Syd” Neuser made her network television debut as a contestant on “MasterChef Junior.”

Season five of the Fox cooking competition premiered Feb. 9, 2017. Neuser was nine years old when she entered the MasterChef kitchen. Now she is a sophomore at West Bend East High School and ready to reflect on her time on the show, which is set to begin a new season March 17.

While on the show, Neuser was asked what she wanted to be when she grew up, and she responded with, “A makeup artist, chef, songwriter, in a band, I wanna do art, and I wanna be on TV.”

In 2022, though, she has a different response.

“Since MasterChef, my values have changed a lot,” Neuser said. “I do not want to pursue being a professional chef anymore. Instead, I am using another important skill that MasterChef Junior helped me explore: people. I developed a love for helping and learning about people. As of right now, I want to go into the teaching field, but that is not set in stone.”

Sydney Neuser, in a photo taken Feb. 8, 2022.

Along with what she was going to be when she grew up, judge Richard Blais asked Neuser mid-competition what she hoped to have accomplished by the time she was 23. She responded with the hope of opening a steak restaurant named “Syd’s Steak.”

When asked the same question now, Syd says she hopes to be out of college. She also revealed the truth behind Syd’s Steak.

“Syd’s Steaks restaurant is not in the picture anymore,” Neuser said. “In fact, I made that up on the spot when I was on the show! I felt pressured that, since I was on MasterChef Junior, I had to want my own restaurant! I wish I had more time to think about my answer so I could have come up with a better name for my imaginary restaurant!”

Neuser has nothing but fond memories about being on the show. 

“The part that I think about the most is having the opportunity to immerse myself in a completely foreign experience,” Neuser said. “It helped me discover a lot about people and myself. I met over 50 new people in one month! As a nine-year-old kid, I had so much to learn about myself. I have the entire MasterChef experience to thank for that. I was never a shy kid, but I remember how much I changed after I got home from California. I was much more confident in my abilities and who I was as a person.”

Being a part of the MasterChef cast required Neuser to live in California for a little over a month while the show was being filmed. During that time, Neuser and the other contestants all lived together.

“Unfortunately, I lost touch with nearly all of the kids from MasterChef Junior,” Neuser said. “My mom keeps in touch with a handful of the other parents, though! Fortunately, even though I don’t talk to the other kids anymore, we will always have a strong connection.”

Currently, Neuser is planning to go to Chicago and visit Avani Shah, who placed ninth on season five.

(Photos courtesy of Sydney Neuser.)

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