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Gracie Howard, a fifth-grader at The Rhoades School, is believed to be the first contestant to appear on two seasons of “MasterChef Junior,” the sixth season of which premieres at 8 p.m. March 2 n Fox. Courtesy photo
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Cardiff 10-year-old gets second chance on ‘MasterChef Junior’

CARDIFF-BY-THE-SEA — It’s not too often that TV show contestants get a second chance at the prize.

Don’t tell that to Grace Howard.

The 10-year-old aspiring chef, actress, singer, dancer and volleyball player is set to make her second appearance on “MasterChef Junior.” She is believed to be the first contestant to appear on two seasons of the show, the sixth season of which premieres at 8 p.m. March 2 on Fox.

Gracie Howard

“It feels awesome,” said Grace, who family and friends affectionately call “Gracie.” “When I got to know I was in the Top 40, I was so stoked. I was really surprised and it made me super duper happy.”

Gracie has had to keep super quiet about the selection, her mother Melissa said. She auditioned for the upcoming show way back in October 2016.

“Everything has been very ‘hush, hush,’” Melissa Howard said.

Gracie said it has been very fun to be back on the set. She said she’s rekindled relationships with the celebrity chefs, including her personal favorite from season one, Christina Tosi — although it took Tosi a while to remember her.

“I don’t think she remembered me at all,” Gracie said. “But then we were on a break and she was like, ‘Gracie!’ and I think that was her moment of realization.”

She said this year she’s also enjoyed the mentoring provided by Joe Bastianich, who returned to the show after a three-year hiatus.

“He wasn’t quite as harsh as Mr. (Gordon) Ramsay, which I really respect,” Gracie said. “He has been really awesome.”

In the meantime back in Cardiff, Gracie and the family have kept very busy — much of it keeping up with Gracie’s schedule.

There’s dance class, theater practice (she’s currently in a production of “Yo, Vikings!” at the North Coast Repertory Theatre), singing, classwork (straight-A student) and, most recently, volleyball, Melissa Howard said.

A fifth-grader at The Rhoades School, Gracie joined the school’s volleyball team and was recently promoted to the varsity team.

“I’m a stronger bumper, spiker or server,” she proudly proclaimed.

When asked how she is able to manage so many activities, Gracie credited her mom for setting the example.

“I learned multitasking from my mom, she does it every day,” she said. “Just having the time to do what you love, I realized how important it is, how blessed I am to be able to do this stuff, so I take my time wisely rather than slouching around and watching videos.

“I just love what I do, so I pursue it,” Gracie said. “And being a good student comes as part of it, I guess.”

And yes, she has continued cooking.

Melissa Howard said her daughter is always whipping up something fresh, creative and colorful, from fresh poke, colorful pancakes, fresh tortillas and guacamole and desserts, oh the desserts.

For dessert Monday night, Gracie said, she was making pina colada cupcakes to pair with her father’s fish tacos.

“Yum, yum,” she said. “Mom is going to chill because she needs to chill.”

Gracie can’t tell us how she does on this season or if she advances to the Top 20, but she said she’s looking forward to everyone watching  including her longtime best friend, Lily Anna Lauer.

“She’s like a second sister to me, my best friend no matter what,” she said. “And I hope everyone enjoys the show, and don’t give up on your own dreams.”