Everything about Masterchef Canada, eh?

Broken stoves and spirits on MasterChef Canada

Season 4 of MasterChef Canada returned with a huge new twist in the audition process, first by having the home cooks create a rice dish at home with just 20 minutes to shop for ingredients and then challenging them to recreate it in the grand kitchen. Within the space of 44 minutes, the original 24 were trimmed to the Top 12. It was an impressive and shocking beginning to what judges Claudio Aprile and Michael Bonacini promise is a dramatic season.

Case in point? Thursday’s episode, “Home on the Range,” began with the usual Mystery Box containing ingredients from the competitors’ homes as inspiration and a chance for viewers to decide who they’d be cheering for this time around. But even that test was altered; rather than an ingredient from the cook’s hometowns, it was an actual item from their homes. In the case of Barrie, that meant his pink pig timer; a piece of wood from Aaron’s grandfather’s property; Justine’s first pastry bag; and Trevor’s pepper grinder.

Early on, I was impressed by Matt (mainly because I interviewed him outside of the Toronto auditions and is insanely prepared), Miranda and her baking skills, Justine and her energy, Jordan and his giggle, gentle giant Aaron, and that Trevor kid, who managed to break a fine German stove made by Miele. Aaron’s attention to detail impressed the judges enough to land him a spot for tasting; his chowder and fish were a hit, as was Miranda’s orange-chocolate cake and Trevor’s pan-seared chicken. As Michael said before making a decision on a winner, these home cooks are a sophisticated bunch turning out food of high quality in Episode 2.

Trevor won, giving him the advantage in the Elimination Challenge as he picked stone fruits for his competitors to use in their next recipe. Miranda was thrilled … until Trevor was handed salt shakers and sugar bowls and decided who would make savoury or sweet foods for tasting. It was a brilliant way to shake up what could have been a very staid Elimination Challenge and showed savvy behind-the-scenes planning. The final stroke of genius was allowing Trevor to save all of the men or all of the women from cooking. By choosing to save the men, Trevor made quick friends of the fellows. I’m betting the girls will have long memories.

Thea was freaking out over her sponge cake and I couldn’t help but wonder why she didn’t make a crumble with a jazzed-up ice cream or whipped cream. Trying to make a cake when you don’t know how is a bad move in my opinion. Thea managed to pull it off, causing me to wonder if some shady editing made it appear she was more flustered than she really was.

It was clear who scored top marks from the judges: Justine’s peach gazpacho and Miranda’s bison and stone fruit sauce were the taste winners and put the pair in the Top 2, and team captains next week. Thea, Mai and Alice were in the bottom thanks to overseasoning, undercooked meat and an ugly sponge cake; Alice was eliminated from the competition.

MasterChef Canada airs Thursdays at 9 p.m. ET/PT on CTV.

Image courtesy of Bell Media.


MasterChef Canada returns with a shocking Episode 1 twist

After four seasons of a reality competition program, it’s easy to grow accustomed to the format. MasterChef Canada is, after all, about home cooks competing against each other (and themselves) for the chance to impress judges Michael Bonacini, Claudio Aprile and Alvin Leung on the road to winning $100,000. How different can that be going into Season 4? Very.

Returning on Thursday at 9 p.m. ET/PT on CTV, MasterChef Canada launches out of the gate with one heck of a twist to the audition process: 24 finalists receive a box of rice in the mail and have just 20 minutes to figure out what they’ll create. That happens before the contestants even set foot in the MasterChef kitchen. Once they get there the stress level only increases; this may just be the most dramatic and challenging season.

Here’s what Michael Bonacini and Claudio Aprile had to say about Season 4 of the show.

I was literally on the edge of my seat watching the first challenge.
Michael Bonacini: It was a great twist and it’s been fun unravelling these twists before the home cooks’ eyes and seeing the sheer shock on this faces and the vibe that you pick up from being in that kitchen in the moment. It is priceless.

Claudio Aprile: It really set the tone for the next 11 episodes because it was very intense, unpredictable … no one had any idea what was happening until it happened.

I loved the curveball in Episode 1 because, at this point, in the franchise’s history, contestants think they know what’s going to happen.
Michael Bonacini: It’s exactly that. Even you, as a viewer, think you know the rhythm and the routine. Every once in a while we’ll throw in a humdinger that turns it on its head and reinvents it, and leaves you gasping for breath.

What keeps you coming back as judges every season? You all have restaurants to manage, so why do it?
Claudio Aprile: I really enjoy it. I’m aware that it’s really rare to be on a show like this and when you arrive on set you realize just how special it is. I get to work with an amazing crew and have been a big fan of Michael and Alvin forever. We have a lot of fun. Sometimes we just pinch ourselves that we’re on this aspirational show which, I know it sounds cliché, has changed people’s lives.

Michael Bonacini: It’s a real joy to be a part of. I was scared to death the first time I showed up on set and saw the magnitude of the set and the number of cameras and the crew. I felt so small and insignificant. It put the fear of God into me. You push yourself to do a better job each time every time to do a tasting or visit a cook’s station. You really want to be able to communicate how things taste and the technique they’ve used and hope viewers latch on to that as well. It’s not just the road of excitement of the show but what is going on in the mind of the cook. It’s truly a joy to be a part of this and to hang out with a couple of dudes like Alvin and Claudio is a bonus.

Are you still looking for the same high bar from these home cooks? Has that changed in Season 4?
Claudio Aprile: For me, it always boils down to one thing and that is making food that is delicious. Nothing else matters to me. When I’m at that podium and the home cook presents their dish, all I’m looking for is deliciousness. Presentation and creativity is important but if it doesn’t taste good, the presentation and creativity become irrelevant.

Michael Bonacini: I think, as the seasons progress, there is this for me, the next group of home cooks to be that much better than the season before and so on. That’s tough to acquire and find and part of getting to that spot is part of our responsibility in terms of critiquing, the comments and the challenges. But there are definitely moments within every episode, every season, where home cooks exceed those expectations. There are disappointments, but when someone exceeds your expectations it just blows your mind.

MasterChef Canada airs Thursdays at 9 p.m. ET/PT on CTV.

Image courtesy of Bell Media.


MASTERCHEF CANADA Season 4 Finalists Revealed in Advance of March 2 Premiere on CTV

From a media release:

CTV’s MASTERCHEF CANADA is changing the recipe for the home cook selection process as the series cooks up its fourth season, airing Thursdays at 9 p.m. ET/PT beginning March 2 on CTV and the CTV GO app, with encores Sundays at 7 p.m. ET beginning March 19 on Gusto. As revealed in a new promo that premiered in last night’s SUPER BOWL LI broadcast on CTV, in a series first, 24 finalists from across Canada are surprised with their first challenge at their homes and offices in their hometowns. Presented with a box of uncooked rice, each aspiring chef has only 20 minutes to decide what they will make, as well as gather all their ingredients, before they travel to the MASTERCHEF CANADA kitchen in Toronto.

Turning up the heat for the Top 24 this season are returning judges Michael Bonacini, Alvin Leung, and Claudio Aprile. Instead of preparing and presenting their signature dish one-by-one, home cook auditions begin on the finalists’ home turf. With only 12 coveted white aprons up for grabs, the home cooks have to prove they have the culinary skills to cut it in the MASTERCHEF CANADA kitchen, as they compete for $100,000 and a life-changing title.

The Top 24 cooking for the MASTERCHEF CANADA title are:

  • Aaron Polsky, a director of operations, from Montréal, Qué.
  • Ali Jadavji, a designer, from Calgary, Alta.
  • Alice Luo, a PhD student, from Toronto, Ont.
  • Alisha Sood, a make-up artist, from Mississauga, Ont.
  • Barrie McConachie, an employee relations consultant, from Vancouver, B.C.
  • Chris Rivest, a YouTuber and nutrition specialist from Calgary, Alta.
  • Connor Robinson, a musician, from North York, Ont.
  • Grace Liang, a mining engineer intern, from Sudbury, Ont.
  • Jason Mayo, a high school teacher, from Jarvis, Ont.
  • Jay Choo, a medical technician, from Toronto, Ont.
  • Jillian Nowak, a food blogger, from Calgary, Alta.
  • Jordan Levin, a server, from Winnipeg, Man.
  • Justine Joyal, a business student, from Montréal, Qué.
  • Kimberly Cairns, a paramedic, from Saskatoon,
  • Kimberly Duffus, a sales rep, from Malton, Ont.
  • Mai Nguyen, a health and safety advisor, from Edmonton, Alta.
  • Matt VanderHelm, a category manager, from Toronto, Ont.
  • May Nazair, a youth centre manager, from Campbellton, N.B.
  • Miranda Wasstrom, a corporate safety administrator, from Edmonton, Alta.
  • Nii Addico, a contractor, from Kitchener, Ont.
  • Raffaele Spataro, a comedian, from Toronto, Ont.
  • Sheila Lumsden, a homemaker, from Iqaluit, Nunavut
  • Thea VanHerwaarden, a broker, from Vancouver, B.C.
  • Trevor Connie, a plumber/gas fitter, from Edmonton, Alta.

Throughout the season fans are invited to visit CTV.ca/MasterChefCanada for exclusive content, including background on this season’s finalists and the MASTERCHEF CANADA judges, as well as interviews, recipes, and more. CTV.ca will also offer viewers behind-the-scenes glimpses of this season’s challenges, culinary creations, triumphs, and upsets.

Seasons 2 and 3 of MASTERCHEF CANADA are currently streaming on CraveTV™, and in encore broadcasts on Gusto.

Over 12 episodes of MASTERCHEF CANADA, the home cooks will have their culinary prowess tested through a series of mystery boxes, pressure tests, and team and elimination challenges, with judges Michael Bonacini, Alvin Leung, and Claudio Aprile providing direction and feedback throughout the process. At the end of each episode, at least one home cook will be eliminated from the competition until only two remain to battle it out in the finale for a chance to take home $100,000 and the sought after title of MASTERCHEF CANADA.


CTV marks Saving Hope and MasterChef Canada return dates

From a media release:

Bolstering a previously announced Winter 2017 schedule, CTV revealed today its full midseason lineup, featuring more star power, new comedies and dramas, hit returning favourites, and live, big ticket special events.

In the newest addition to CTV’s midseason schedule, TRIAL & ERROR, true crime and mockumentary collide in John Lithgow’s (3RD ROCK FROM THE SUN, DEXTER) return to primetime television (March 7). The series goes into the heart of a quirky, small Southern town to follow the arrest and murder trial of a beloved poetry professor (Lithgow) and a young “Northeastern” lawyer (Nicholas D’Agosto, GOTHAM) hired to defend him.

Paired with the co-viewing, four-quadrant blockbuster vocal competition series THE VOICE, the fish-out-of-water comedy joins CTV’s Tuesday night lineup alongside MARVEL’s AGENTS OF S.H.I.E.L.D. Also joining CTV’s 2017 midseason schedule is the series premiere of Kevin Williamson’s (THE VAMPIRE DIARIES) fantastical cat and mouse adventure series TIME AFTER TIME (March 5).

CTV’s hit culinary series MASTERCHEF CANADA serves up an all-new fourth season Thursday nights with another helping of food-driven drama (March 2). The all-new powerhouse Thursday night lineup also features previously announced new series POWERLESS (Feb. 2) and TRAINING DAY (Feb. 2), and perennial blockbuster THE BIG BANG THEORY.

The much-anticipated fifth and final season of CTV’s hit original drama SAVING HOPE (March 12) joins TIME AFTER TIME (March 5), as both series anchor the network’s Sunday night lineup.

On Tuesday, March 7, the season finale of this season’s breakout hit THIS IS USairs at a special time, 10 p.m. ET/PT on CTV. Tuesdays also sees the pairing of hit series THE FLASH with DC’s LEGENDS OF TOMORROW on CTV Two, in a new two-hour superhero block (Feb. 28).

Following CARDINAL’s six-part event run (Wednesdays at 10 p.m. ET/PT on CTV), March also sees the return of the fall’s most-watched new series DESIGNATED SURVIVOR* starring Kiefer Sutherland (March 8). Meanwhile, the sophomore season of THE CATCH settles into its new home on CTV Two (March 9).

Plus, Phil Keoghan and a new batch of racers return as the long-awaited all-new 29th season of multi-EMMY Award-winning THE AMAZING RACE returns with a two-hour premiere on CTV (April 21).

CTV is also home to big ticket live events and star wattage specials this winter with SUPER BOWL LI (Feb. 5), THE 89th ANNUAL ACADEMY AWARDS® (Feb. 26), and THE 2017 JUNO AWARDS (April 2), while the IHEARTRADIO MUSIC AWARDS airs on CTV Two March 5.


Home cooks and their families face off in MasterChef Canada: All-Star Family Edition

From a media release:

CTV is cooking up a feast of MASTERCHEF programming, and it all begins with the television event MASTERCHEF CANADA: ALL-STAR FAMILY EDITION, premiering Monday, Dec. 5 at 8 p.m. ET/PT. The two-hour CTV Original Special brings together past MASTERCHEF CANADA winners, their families, and some special guests to compete for $10,000 for the charity of their choice. The home cooks returning to the MASTERCHEF CANADA Kitchen are Season 1 winner Eric Chong, Season 2 winner David Jorge, Season 3 winner Mary Berg, and MASTERCHEF CANADA: A HOLIDAY SPECIAL winner Pino DiCerbo.

MASTERCHEF CANADA judges Michael Bonacini, Alvin Leung, and Claudio Aprile will serve up four nail-biting challenges, and decide which teams face elimination and which ones move forward. The special also airs Monday, Dec. 12 at 9 p.m. ET on Gusto. As with 2014’s MASTERCHEF CANADA: A HOLIDAY SPECIAL, MASTERCHEF CANADA: ALL-STAR FAMILY EDITION was created by Proper Television in collaboration with CTV and Endemol Shine Group.

In MASTERCHEF CANADA: ALL-STAR FAMILY EDITION, four MASTERCHEF CANADA champions are joined by their families to compete in four increasingly difficult culinary challenges: the Better-Half Skills Race, the Mother and Child Mystery Box, the Bossy Sibling Coaching Challenge, and the Family Feast Team Cook. Over the course of the two-hour special, select family members will compete alongside Eric, David, Mary, and Pino, as they work to impress the judges with their creativity and skill. The family who cooks their way to victory will win the first MASTERCHEF CANADA: ALL-STAR FAMILY EDITION and $10,000 for their chosen charity.


#TeamEric (Blue Apron)
MASTERCHEF CANADA Season 1 Winner Eric Chong joins the competition with his mother Zena, girlfriend Jenn, and brother Andrew. Eric entered Season 1 with a recent engineering degree. His parents did not want him to pursue cooking, but claiming the MASTERCHEF CANADA title helped him win their support. Eric is now chef and co-owner of R&D, the successful Toronto restaurant he opened with MASTERCHEF CANADA judge Alvin Leung. #TeamEric is competing for the Canadian Diabetes Association.

#TeamDavid (Red Apron)
David Jorge, the winner of MASTERCHEF CANADA Season 2, was a high school dropout and concrete worker who dreamed of something more. After his victory he opened S+L Kitchen and Bar in Langley, BC, in partnership with the Joseph Richard Group, and has two more restaurant projects on the go. David is joined in the kitchen by his mother Maria, brother Kevin, wife Tanis, and sons JJ and Nuno. #TeamDavid is competing for the Surrey Food Bank.

#TeamMary (Green Apron)
Season 3’s winning home cook Mary Berg is competing with her new husband Aaron, brother Michael, and her mom Myra. Following her win, Mary left her job as an insurance broker and started her own catering company, Perfect Day Events. #TeamMary is competing for the SickKids Foundation.

#TeamPino (Purple Apron)
Pino DiCerbo, winner of MASTERCHEF CANADA: A HOLIDAY SPECIAL, is no longer a stay-at-home dad. He now offers private chef services via Chef Pino Di Cerbo’s Cucina Rustica and cohosts a YouTube cooking show with his mother Filomena. Pino will be joined again by his mom, sister Ange, wife Anna, and sons David and Adam. #TeamPino is competing for Brandan’s Eye Research Foundation.

The culinary season continues on CTV following the premiere of MASTERCHEF CANADA: ALL-STAR FAMILY EDITION with the return of MASTERCHEF JUNIOR for its fifth season in February 2017 as a new batch of talented kids showcase their skills in the kitchen and passion for food. MASTERCHEF CANADA is also set to return in Winter 2017 for Season 4 with a new group of talented home cooks from across the country. Viewers looking to satisfy their hunger for MASTERCHEF CANADA before the series returns can stream all past seasons on CraveTV™.

The MASTERCHEF format and finished programmes are represented internationally by Endemol Shine Group, and is based on a format originally created by Franc Roddam.