``MasterChef Junior'' begins its sixth season tonight on Fox with restaurateur Joe Bastianich returning as a judge after a two-season absence and two youngsters from the San Diego area among the 40 contestants.
The home cooks aged 8 to 13 will be split into two groups for tonight's episode, which airs from 8-10 p.m.
The 20 girls will be making a medium-rare filet mignon dish while the 20 boys will prepare a chicken breast dish. Twelve contestants from each group will advance to next Friday's episode.
The San Diego-area contestants are Evan Estrada, an 11-year-old from San Diego, and Gracie Howard, a 9-year-old from Cardiff by the Sea.
In later episodes during the 15-episode season contestants will face a mystery box challenge with 26 ingredients, each representing a different letter of the alphabet; cooking a dish that represents their family heritage; preparing a meal for a couple and their guests at their wedding reception; and creating a chicken-and-waffle dish.The winner will receive $100,000.