A chef stands, talking to his staff.

MasterChef Canada: History is made during Restaurant Takeover

It may have been a holiday in the rest of the country, but MasterChef Canada didn’t take the day off.

In the biggest test of the season—of every season, really, aside from the finale—the home cooks participated in the daunting Restaurant Takeover, as they served guests at Chef Michael Bonacini’s Leña Restaurante. Rozin, who earned his way back into the competition, joined the Top 5 as they prepared two appetizers and two main dishes for a select group of lunch diners, media and Bell Media guests. (Make no mistake, these folks weren’t paying customers and Chef Michael’s cred was not on the line. That doesn’t take away from the rigours of the test, I just want you to know.)

Cryssi and Josh, who hadn’t been team captains yet, were handed the blue and red aprons and picked their teammates. Josh chose Jennifer and Chanelle to be on Team Red, while Cryssi opted for Rozin and Andre. Andre (and I) was shocked he was picked last, especially because of his experiences with spice, something I assumed would come into play in a restaurant featuring South American flavours. The cool thing that struck me about this Restaurant Takeover—and it may have happened before—was the home cooks were making actual items from Leña’s menu. The broken avocado salad, clams and chorizo, Atlantic salmon and roasted lamb sirloin are available to order or have been, which made the challenge have real stakes. Cryssi, who grew up in a Portuguese household, was excited at the chance to make the plates. Josh was struggling to keep up.

A man and a woman stand in a kitchen.On the Red Team, Josh tackled the clams and Chanelle took on the salad with Jennifer helping where needed. Cryssi, meanwhile, handled the seafood for the Red Team, with Andre doing the salad and Rozin aiding when called upon. The small kitchen and constant orders coming in soon caused the expected trouble for both squads. In particular, the clams were being stubborn, causing Cryssi to sweat; I could feel the frustration and dismay in her voice. And Chef Michael made it known he wasn’t pleased either. The judges gave the plates a try and deemed it pretty much a draw.

Next up were the mains. Josh chose to prepare the lamb, Jennifer the salmon and Chanelle roving. Cryssi picked the salmon, Rozin on the lamb and Andre plating. The Red Team stumbled at first, with rare lamb and salmon slowing them down and Josh neglecting his duties as team captain. It was chaos. Things weren’t any better on the blue side, as lamb orders piled up and Rozin floundered in the weeds. Chef Michael had this to say when he was told it would be eight minutes until the lamb was ready.

“Eight minutes?! You’re killing me!” And perhaps blue’s chances at a win, especially when Michael called chef de cuisine Julie Marteleira in to help them. With one Red Team table waiting 90 minutes for their food, they weren’t vying for the win either, so Chef Michael got his hands dirty with them. All three judges agreed, upon tasting, that the entrees weren’t up to par.

Three men stand at a table, tasting food.The result? Neither team was safe and all six home cooks were headed to the Pressure Test, prepping breakfast for Alvin, Michael and Claudio. But before that, Cryssi and Josh were given the opportunity to save an MVP from their squad. Andre and Jennifer were picked and headed up to the gallery.

Three different breakfasts—full English for Michael, congee for Alvin and bizcocho for Claudio—just 65 minutes and a replication challenge seemed impossible for Rozin, Cryssi, Chanelle and Josh. I would have sat down on the floor and cried. The home cooks soldiered on and were in pretty good spirits. Rozin could only smile as he uncovered his blood sausage and discovered it had burst into a grey paté, and Josh’s congee turned into a soupy mess.

Chef Michael tasted the bizcocho first, enjoying Cryssi’s, marking Josh’s as dry, Rozin’s dry and overcooked, and Chanelle’s just wrong. Chef Alvin was up next tasting the congee, deeming Cryssi’s spot-on, Josh’s thin and bland, Rozin’s good but unbalanced, and Chanelle’s a good effort. Finally, it was time for Chef Michael’s English breakfast. Cryssi’s was tasty but her eggs were undone, Josh’s well executed, Rozin’s well done, and Chanelle’s eggs a little overdone.

With many little mistakes made, it was going to be a tough call but the judges made it: Cryssi was tops and Rozin was cut from the competition for a second time.

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

Images courtesy of Bell Media.

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