MasterChef Junior‘s Graham Elliot is known for his excellent restaurant offerings off screen, and on screen, he’s everyone’s favorite thanks to his encouraging judging style. We recently sat down with his whole family (three little chefs included) and got the scoop on how to improve a few major areas of our own cooking lives. Check it out and tune in to MasterChef Jr. Fridays on at 8 EST on FOX!

On impressing a date

If anyone knows about the pressure of cooking for your guy, it’s Graham’s wife, Allie. Their advice?
Allie: Have confidence in your dish! If a guy is super into you, he’s going to tell you it tastes good anyway!
Graham: Maybe course it out. One person makes an appetizer, one does the entree and then you both have some part of the dessert. One does the sauce, one does the brownie… things like that. 

*Hint: Impress your date with the cupcake bouquet pictured above! Check out the recipe here.

On taking it to the next level

MasterChef inspires us to kick our cooking up a notch, but what’s step 1?
Graham: I think the coolest thing to do is to kind of unlearn everything that you’ve ever been taught—that you have to follow a recipe, or you have to follow the rules. A lot of people have their own style, whether it’s how they dress or do makeup or play music. Have that philosophy for food; go in there, throw things together, make stuff, make mistakes, learn from it and just keep finding your own style. 

On THE key technique

The most important thing to remember in the kitchen?
Graham: Control the heat! Searing is really like a hot, hot pan. And then poaching is a light water, frying is a lot of oil—things like that. And then seasoning. Everything is kind of fair game.