Junior MasterChef's Dirty Dozen

Twelve Australian kids have been selected from thousands of applicants to be in the running to win the Junior MasterChef Australia crown.

In Sunday's episode, the final 20 were whittled down to 12, leaving the créme de la créme of young culinary talent in the running to impress the tough judges.

Watch as the Top 12 are revealed.

Jack, 12, from Tasmania
Jack began cooking when he was nine years old. As with most kids his age, he discovered his talents when making a croquembouche for a friend's dinner party. We didn't even realise that nine year olds were invited to dinner parties.

After watching the Meryl Streep movie Julie and Julia, he started to hone his craft. Nothing quite like the cinematic power of the Streep to motivate yourself towards self-betterment!

Just like a 1950s housewife, Jack became an ardent follower of Julia Child's cookbooks, but is now keen to take a more untraditional turn towards the cooking style of molecular gastronomist Heston Blumenthal.

Isabella, 12, from Queensland
Number one of the twin-set to have secured a place on Junior MasterChef Australia is Isabella, who comes from a formidable line of Italian mommas who have schooled her in the ways of Mediterranean cookery.

The forward-driven youngster has already developed the name of her restaurant -- Issofia -- and has developed menus and business cards to help build her client base.

We wasted our childhoods.

Nick, 10, from New South Wales
Nick is the collaborative chef who unites with his mother and sister to create wondrous three-course creations. His father has it made.

Apparently, the youngster enjoys hosting dinner parties for his friends (really -- do children genuinely host dinner parties?!).

In addition to his regular dinner parties, the wannabe MasterChef is writing a cookbook called "How Do You Like Your Lamb?"

Motivation overload.

Sofia, 12, from Queensland
Isabella's twin and we can only hope for psychic communes across the stove top. Our fingers are tightly crossed.

She enjoys cooking for her dearest papa and is a keen follower of the big UK celeb-chefs Jamie Oliver and Nigella Lawson. In her spare time she likes to play her fiddle and compose lyrics for songs with her twin sister.

Psychic composition? Hopefully.

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Meet the Top 12 girls.

Anthony, 10, from New South Wales
Like his idol, George Calombaris (and coincidentally the person responsible for his fate in the competition), Anthony comes from a vibrant Greek background and has picked up his cooking skills from the women in his family.

Aware that his expertise in the kitchen might diminish before his teen years, he has not put all of his eggs in the cooking basket. If all else fails, the life of a cartoonist is for him.

Sam, 11, from Queensland
Sam featured heavily in the promo for Junior MasterChef Australia as the star who could temper chocolate with skills that would put the adult MasterChef contestants to shame.

And how did he develop these skills? From computer cooking games, of course! Kids today, eh?

According to TEN publicity, Sam enjoys cooking as it helps him de-stress -- perhaps after hosting too many dinner parties for friends. If he's succumbing to stress at 11, high school could cause some problems.

Emily, 11, from South Australia
Representin' the country is little Emily who comes from a line of chefs, and likes to experiment with her cooking, with rabbit and venison being her ingredients of choice. An 11-year-old girl who enjoys cooking with Bambi and Thumper? She's sounds like a formidable contestant...

A big fan of the MasterChef Australia 2010 runner-up Callum Hann, it is a dead cert that she will want to emulate his success. If all else fails, she wants to become a "food stylist". What exactly does this entail? Fluffing marshmallows and trimming the spikes off a pineapple?

Lucy, 11, from Victoria
Pocket-sized Lucy began her culinary career with a tasting dish of Milk Arrow Biscuits and Sprinkles, which came first in the Albion Park Show competition.

An enthusiastic food technology fanatic, her most amusing moment cooking was when she almost set the house on fire cooking roast chestnuts. Nothing quite like a keen pyromaniac in the Junior MasterChef Australia kitchen -- watch out judges!

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Meet the Top 12 boys.

Alex, 11, from New South Wales
A Pommie, who relocated to Australia three years ago, hopes to bring the "wonders" of the Anglo-Saxon dining table to the Antipodean palate.

While he strongly believes that Australian chefs are more experimental than those in his homeland, he still remains staunchly allied with Brit faves Jamie Oliver and Nigella Lawson for his inspiration.

Créme Brulee is his arch nemesis.

Pierre, 12, from New South Wales
Pierre would watch his Lebanese grandmother cook food when he was still in a high chair, and has since helped out in the kitchen.

Pierre loves cooking because it makes him happy and transports him into another world.

When Pierre is older, he wants to be an engineer, or open a theatre restaurant so his sisters and cousins can perform in it. How sweet. I think he's my secret favourite.

Cassidy, 12, from Victoria
Cassidy makes sure that her and her parents regularly visit fresh markets to ensure she has the best for her cooking.

She has already spied out her favourite chef, George Calombaris, who has already bestowed her with a copy of his cookbook for her 12th birthday.

Will these connections make any difference to the voting? We doubt it.

Siena, 9, from Victoria
She's nine years old. On Junior MasterChef Australia. It's really quite incredible the age at which these kids have developed skills that have progressed themselves this far through the competition.

Siena has established cooking clubs for friends, and aspires to open her own patisserie. She also cooks a great steak.

If ever there has been a reason to have children, these talented kids are it.

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