Asian influences highlight MasterChef Canada

Last week, the remaining MasterChef Canada home cooks were schooled when they made lunches for over 100 hungry kids and Rozin was eliminated from the competition.

This week, Chef Alvin took centre stage during the Elimination Challenge when he uncovered Asian treats for the participants to tackle.

But before all of that, there was the latest Mystery Box to get through. The seven home cooks lifted the lids to reveal two smaller boxes. One was clear, showing all of the ingredients. The other was black, hiding its contents. Which box each chose would go a long way to presenting their personalities. Were these home cooks risk takers or not? Josh and Andre—the last two guys in the competition, it should be noted—opted for the clear boxes and 45 minutes of cooking time while the gals went for it. The secret boxes held exotic ingredients like black cod, escarole and passion fruit. Six seasons in, I continue to be impressed with the challenges the producers are coming up with and Monday’s Mystery Box was just the latest.

While Chef Michael admitted he would have chosen the “safe” box, Alvin and Claudio said they’d have gone for the secret box to test their skills. Chanelle decided on a Thai inspired cod dish for her recipe, Alyssa with fish tacos, Jennifer with fish cakes, Jenny a po’ boy sandwich and Cryssi a pan-fried cod with vinaigrette and fingerling potatoes. Andre and Josh had 15 minutes to plot and plan their recipes, the former with dry-rubbed glazed pork and the latter a pan-seared pork chop with potatoes and butternut squash puree.

The judges chose to taste Chanelle’s plate (“The flavours were fresh and clean,” opined Michael), Josh (“Very nicely done,” Alvin said) and Cryssi (“Great flavours, good technique,” said Michael). From the glowing reviews she got, it was no surprise that Cryssi won the Mystery Box challenge but it was still great to see. And though she wasn’t safe and would have to cook in the Elimination Challenge, Cryssi got her pick of Asian-themed ingredients like abalone, uni, ebisudai, Waygu beef, black garlic and XO sauce and then assigned her competitors the rest.

Cryssi chose the beef for herself and then aimed to cull the herd, giving Andre the uni, Alyssa the XO sauce, Chanelle the abalone, Jennifer the ebisudai fish, Josh the black garlic and Jenny the matsutake mushrooms.

Meanwhile, Cryssi planned to honour the beef as a steak and a tartare. Alyssa opted to put the XO sauce on pork belly, and Josh was stoked he got the garlic because he cooks with it all the time and planned to top his pasta with it. Jennifer aimed for a carpaccio, Jenny and mushroom egg drop soup and Andre a cauliflower steak with uni sauce. As time ran out, Alyssa discovered her pork wasn’t quite done and would have to complete it in a frying pan. Everyone was out of sorts, except for Cryssi and that was her plan.

Jenny’s mushroom egg drop soup wasn’t up to par, according to Claudio and didn’t honour the main ingredient; Alvin deemed Josh’s pasta beautiful thanks to the creamy black garlic sauce; Claudio called Jennifer’s carpaccio amazing and Alvin was honoured she served it in the fried carcass; Michael advised Alyssa her pork was just cooked through and the XO sauce didn’t come through; Alvin loved Chanelle’s fried abalone; and Alvin was disappointed Andre used so little sea urchin on his slab of cauliflower. Finally, Cryssi’s tartare and steak were a mixed bag according to Claudio.

Jennifer came out on top with the best dish of the night. On the bottom were Jenny and Alyssa, who had struggled so badly with the ingredients Cryssi gave them. And while they were asked to remove their aprons, they weren’t eliminated yet; both face off in a Redemption Challenge in next week’s episode.

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

Images courtesy of Bell Media.