When I first met Mary Berg, it was to shadow her during her MasterChef Canada Season 3 audition. As we spoke that day, I was struck by her enthusiasm and passion for food, and her humour. She went on to show that during MasterChef Canada, eventually winning Season 3. We reconnected during the filming of Berg’s first television series, Mary’s Kitchen Crush, and she hasn’t changed one bit.
Debuting on Sunday at 7 p.m. ET/PT on CTV, Mary’s Kitchen Crush has Berg’s touches all over it, from the recipes she makes—three to four originals per episode inspired by someone who has made a meaningful impact on her life—to the show’s set, sprinkled with photos and other personal items. In the first episode, it’s Berg’s mother, Myra, who arrives to enjoy the fruits of her daughter’s labour via an herb and garlic stuffed lamb tenderloin with oven-roasted asparagus, garlic and herb flatbread, and a strawberry-rhubarb galette for dessert.
“The reason I did catering was that I just wanted to share my food with people outside of my own kitchen,” Berg says during a break in filming last year. “The fact that I get to share my recipes with people through different avenues is really exciting.”
The program’s production company, Proper Television, is smart to let Berg be her charming, geeky self, madly waving her arms around (and uttering some truly bad jokes) as she creates tasty plates that are accessible and easy for home cooks. Thirty episodes of Mary’s Kitchen Crush were filmed—with a total of roughly 145 recipes—over a two-month production schedule.
“I’m a little bit of a Type-A personality and a control freak,” Berg says with a laugh. “It was basically me sitting in a barcalounger at my cottage writing and working.” Berg wrote all of the recipes, tested about half herself and tested the rest with the show’s culinary team. The goal is for the recipes to work and for viewers to actually make them. And while she loves nothing better than to spend an entire Sunday tweaking a recipe, Berg knows home cooks simply don’t have that time.
“All of the recipes for this show, and anything that I’m developing in general, I think, ‘Could my mother do this?'” Berg says. “She’s not great in the kitchen, and if Myra Berg can do it anybody can do it.”
Mary’s Kitchen Crush airs Sundays at 7 p.m. ET/PT on CTV.
Image courtesy of Bell Media.