MasterChef Canada reveals its Top 12 for Season 5

It’s doesn’t really feel like spring—at least to me anyway—unless MasterChef Canada is on the air. And, after four excellent seasons on CTV, it’s become a rite of this time of year. As flowers bloom in gardens and those first crops begin to grow, home chefs from across the country are sweating it out in the kitchen fighting for the grandest of prizes: $100,000 and the title of MasterChef Canada.

Back to judge, critique and encourage are Claudio Aprile, Michael Bonacini and Alvin Leung, who will put the contestants through their paces and the emotional ringer each week. Last year it was MCC staffers who dropped off cases to the home cooks. This time around it was the judges themselves shocking folks in their hometowns—in kitchens, the workplace, while hunting—to deliver the good news they’d made it into the competition and a request to bring a special ingredient that represents them and their community to the kitchen for their audition dish. In an interesting twist, the three judges were walking around, watching the home cooks during the 60-minute challenge. If they weren’t impressed, a home cook was tapped on the shoulder, signalling they had been eliminated. It was an ingenious way of shaking up the audition process and a reminder you can never get comfortable in the MCC kitchen.

An early exit befell Dawn and her blueberry grunt and Oyak, who’d cut himself and was struggling with nerves and his pot of rice.

With Season 5’s return on Tuesday night, there were a few contestants of the Top 21 who I made note of right out of the gate either because of their skills or signature dishes on the road to scoring that all-important white apron and the Top 12.

  • Beccy, of course. Her beetroot and steak wowed the experts. The fact she’s only 19 serves notice that youth is not a hindrance and may, in fact, help her in the weeks to come.
  • Jonathan. He showed skill in taming the heat of the ghost pepper for this chicken stew. I’m hoping he uses his Trinidadian background as much as possible to keep things interesting.
  • Reem. I loved her statement on her Muslim background and her baba ganoush. I wanted to reach through the TV and devour it.
  • Eugene. I’m impressed by his resilience and guts for keeping his nerves in check when called upon to re-do his audition dish a different way. He’s got some promise, but I worry his nerves could let him down in future weeks.

Next week the competition gets going for real as the Top 12 head into Mystery Box challenges, team challenges and Pressure Tests designed to break spirits and weed out the weaklings. Guests this season include the cast of Corner Gas, Lloyd Robertson, past MasterChef Canada winners and dogs. Many, many dogs.

MasterChef Canada airs Tuesdays at 9 p.m. ET on CTV.

Images courtesy of Bell Media.