MasterChef Canada returns with plenty of tears

MasterChef Canada is manipulative as heck. With two seasons under their belts, producers Proper Television know exactly how to tug at our emotions. With just one hour of this go-round underway, I was already cheering for finalists like Mary Berg and Jennifer Baglioni because of their backstories, and want them to go all the way to the end.

Of course, I’m supposed to feel this way, and once you just accept it, episodes like Sunday’s are entertaining both in the slick production but the storytelling as well. And with three seasons under their belts, judges Michael Bonacini, Alvin Leung and Claudio Aprile know how to inject their own brand of drama into the proceedings too. All three took turns being critical with the first handful of home cooks to shoot for the Top 14, and stated more than once the talent bar had been raised. Thankfully, several contestants met the challenge or exceeded them.

One was Mary Berg, who overcame personal tragedy (her family was in a car accident years ago, claiming her father’s life) to score an apron. Another was Jennifer Bagione, who told her own tear-induced tale. Both parents were deaf and she learned to communicate through sign language. After their mother left, Jennifer took over cooking duties, ensuring Dad had a hot meal to come home to every night. The Maple, Ont., salon manager broke down in tears while the judges communicated through her to her father that she had won a spot in the Top 14.

Not everyone was so lucky. A montage captured several wannabe MasterChef Canada contestants eliminated because their plates were too pedestrian, under-seasoned or just plain bad. Folks like Sean Hickey—he of the bacon-themed headband and apron—bombed out with their audition plate but will battle it out for a spot in the show via kitchen cooking because the judges saw a glimmer of talent.

Who will win the $100,000 grand prize and MasterChef Canada title? It’s too soon to tell, but it’s going to be a fun (and tear-filled) ride on the way to deciding. Tell me who you think will win via the comments below.

MasterChef Canada airs Sundays at 7 p.m. ET/PT on CTV.