MasterChef Canada: Tony’s not so great at leadership in first Team Challenge

Weddings can be one of the biggest events in a couple’s relationship. The clothes, flowers, venue, music and weather is, hopefully, perfect and leaves the couple and their guests with longlasting positive memories. Another huge component of a wedding is the food, which led to an incredible amount of pressure on the MasterChef Canada home cooks, who prepared a two-course meal for a Caribbean-inspired wedding. (I wonder if the pair had to audition and if the show’s production company helped pay for any part of the wedding?)

Tony, who has impressed judges Claudio, Michael and Alvin with his Italian dishes, served as the Red Team leader. Opposite him was Chanelle, leading the Blue Team. The location of the wedding? Madsen’s Greenhouse in Newmarket, Ont., where Chloe and Jeremy were set to say their “I do’s” in front of 121 family and friends. The Team Challenge? To make an appetizer and main for everyone. At first blush, the team with Andre—and his Caribbean expertise—on it appeared to have an advantage. That meant Tony’s team, which also included Jenny, Alyssa and Cryssi. Chanelle may have had the second pick on people, choosing Jennifer, Roz, Colin and Josh, but she was given the first choice at protein, getting shellfish and chicken and leaving fish and beef for Tony et al.

Tony’s team got off quickly, leaning on Andre’s plan of fried fish with ackee followed by stewed beef and dumplings. Tony’s soccer coach knowledge came into play early as he jumped from person to person, checking that everyone was on task. But then the stress of frying fish threatened to derail the appetizer, with a lot of yelling between Tony and Cryssi happening until Andre stepped in to help Alyssa. But Tony kept at it with Cryssi, and then Andre, and it definitely hurt team morale.

Chanelle’s group was more of a team effort with everyone weighing in until seafood soup with coconut and jerk chicken with beans and salsa. Chenelle’s squad was in a bit of disarray, and without Andre to help them, a little out to sea. Josh’s jerk chicken marinade seemed to be too heavy on the Scotch bonnet peppers but his teammates seemed to like it.

The happy couple and their guests were served appetizers and it appeared as though blue’s soup was a little too bland compared to red’s fish. And, to make things worse, Roz ran out of the soup, a major planning gaffe. They quickly thinned out the remaining soup they had with shrimp stock but received thumbs down from guests.

With just an hour left to prep, cook and serve the main dish, things went awry when Josh dropped a pan of jerk chicken on the floor. (Was it just me or did Chef Claudio seem to take great delight in that?) The five-second rule does not apply in the MasterChef Canada kitchen, but luckily Josh has prepared extra meat so they weren’t going to run short.

Chloe wasn’t impressed with the red team’s beef stew, saying it lacked a lot of flavour, while she loved the blue team’s chicken. In the end, Team Red won by just three votes. So while Andre was a help in his team’s success, Tony’s leadership style and losing track of time caused what might have been a landslide victory much closer. Chanelle and her team lost but I hope held their heads high. The red team was saved from the Pressure Test and elimination.

Back in the kitchen, Chenelle, Jennifer, Roz, Colin and Josh were fighting to stay in the competition, but not before they were allowed to pick one home cook to be saved from elimination. They chose, rightly, Josh. He owned the jerk chicken from start to finish and the guests liked it. In the Pressure Test, Chenelle, Jennifer, Roz and Colin were tasked with creating one sweet and one savoury cheesecake in 80 minutes. (If anyone is interested, I would have gone with a brownie swirl cheesecake for my sweet and made a buffalo chicken blue cheese for my savoury.)

With time running out, Colin’s watery strawberry cheesecake filling seemed destined to send him home before it got into the oven. As for Chanelle, hers came out of the oven intact but collapsed during plating. Incredibly, each cheesecake was completed and, overall, looked amazing. Jennifer’s everything bagel was enjoyed by Chef Michael and Chef Claudio deemed her chocolate attempt to be great; Chef Alvin didn’t enjoy Colin’s scallop lemon offering but Micheal loved his sweet strawberry concoction; Alvin liked the light taste of Chanelle’s goat cheese creation and, while Michael did like the flavour of her sweet matcha cheesecake, he pointed out its horrible collapse; Michael enjoyed Rozin’s Stilton cheesecake but opined it was a little heavy-handed, and Alvin refused to comment (on camera at least) about his tahini-themed plate.

In the episode’s closing moments, Alvin, Claudio and Michael awarded Jennifer top marks for her cheesecakes. Rozin overreached in his ambition but was saved from elimination. That left Colin and Chanelle, with Colin being shown the door. It wasn’t entirely unexpected—Colin was middle of the road in last week’s two-hour debut—but I was sad to see him go and thought his East Coast-inspired recipes would have been neat to see evolve.

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

Images courtesy of Bell Media.

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