Everything about Masterchef Canada, eh?

CTV delivers a fifth serving of MasterChef Canada for 2017/18 Season

From a media release:

Hot on the heels of a delectable Season 4 run, CTV announced today another season of its hit culinary competition series MASTERCHEF CANADA for the 2017/2018 broadcast season. Casting for home cooks looking to follow their culinary dream is now open at MasterChefCanada.CTV.ca/Casting, with production set to begin this fall in Toronto on a new 12-episode season from Proper Television.

Marking a return to the MASTERCHEF CANADA kitchen are distinguished Canadian judges Michael Bonacini (O&B restaurant empire), Alvin Leung (Bo Innovation in Hong Kong), and Claudio Aprile (Copetin Restaurant & Bar). The esteemed trio are poised to once again mentor and challenge everyday Canadians to elevate their cooking and presentation skills to a professional level, as home cooks compete in high-stakes cooking challenges to secure the MASTERCHEF CANADA title and take home a $100,000 cash prize.

Canadians maintain a strong appetite for MASTERCHEF CANADA. A Top 5 program with Millennials, Season 4 of MASTERCHEF CANADA was the most-watched Canadian program this past spring with total viewers and all key demos. The Season 4 finale alone averaged 1.4 million total viewers.

Casting for Season 5 of MASTERCHEF CANADA is now open at MasterChefCanada.CTV.ca/Casting. Passionate and talented Canadian home cooks hungry for an opportunity to pursue their culinary dreams have until 11:59 p.m. ET on September 17, 2017 to apply online. Casting will come to an end with Open Casting Call in Toronto on September 17 with additional details to be announced later this summer. Interviews are slated to take place this fall, and applicants are encouraged to apply early for an opportunity to meet producers when they are in their region. Additional details will be available at CTV.ca/MasterChefCanada.

MASTERCHEF CANADA is produced by Proper Television in association with CTV. Proper’s Vice-President and Creative Director Cathie James is the Showrunner and Executive Producer.

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MasterChef Canada: And the winner is …

After a three-hour marathon that included their fellow competitors and family members watching from the sidelines, Thea and Trevor did battle in a three-course non-stop cook for the ages to win the $100,000 grand prize and title of MasterChef Canada.

By the time the dust steam had settled on Thursday night, Trevor the plumber/gas fitter from Edmonton had emerged victorious. Thea, the insurance broker from Vancouver, came in second place. Things may have been very different if the tamale ball Thea served chef Claudio Aprile hadn’t been raw in the middle, but the devil is in the details and that one ruined her chances of winning. Judges Alvin Leung, Claudio Aprile and Michael Bonacini awarded Trevor the trophy, explaining that his three-course meal presented the best story of the two.

“Winning this has kick-started my food dream,” Trevor told producers after the confetti had fallen. “My life is changing as we speak. Goodbye plumbing, hello cooking!”

“I’m really happy for Trevor,” Thea said in defeat. “I still feel like a winner. This has been the best journey I’ve ever had and nothing is going to stop me from pursuing my food dream right now.”

MasterChef Canada continued to be groundbreaking in its challenges this season by presenting a doozy of a final one: Thea and Trevor had three hours to create an appetizer, entree and dessert and the clock would not stop running. This meant the pair would not only have to stay focussed while cooking but have excellent time-management skills. Thea’s take on Mexican food with street corn panna cotta, pork cheek tamale and orange sponge cake played to her strength of having bold flavours while Trevor’s octopus and chips, lamb two ways and deconstructed chocolate mint ice cream cone showcased his sophistication in taste and plating.

There wasn’t a ton of drama during the hour-long episode—despite producers injecting dramatic music to suggest there was—and it all rightly came down to taste for final judgement from Claudio, Alvin and Michael. A frontrunner from Week 1, the only way Trevor was going to lose was if something catastrophic went wrong with one of his plates. As soon as the trio went off without a hitch his win was sealed.

What did you think of this season of MasterChef Canada? Did the right home cook win? Let me know in the comments below!

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MasterChef Canada’s final two are revealed

MasterChef Canada‘s Top 2 have been revealed, as Trevor Connie and Thea Vanherwaarden will go head-to-head in next week’s season finale. After a long, impressive run, Barrie McConachie was eliminated in an emotional episode. To be honest, just making it to the Top 12 was an incredible feat; this season has been one jam-packed with high-end guest judges and the most complicated challenges in this franchise’s history.

Thursday’s instalment, “Sweet Francaise,” began with one heck of a test, to create a mélange of pastries for the show’s French bistro theme. As if making five different items wasn’t tough enough, the trio’s bites would be tasted by pastry chefs. The two-hour prep time went by in a blink and Thea seemed to have an edge over Trevor and Barrie, but by the end of the time limit, everyone completed the task. The big twist? Along with several pastry experts were children, meaning Thea’s lavender-lemon cake could have gotten a big thumbs-down from the kiddies. Luckily for everyone, no desserts were sent back, though the pastry chefs—and Michael Bonacini, Claudio Aprile and Alvin Leung—all found minor flaws. Barrie came out on top and I felt he deserved it, but he’s gotta stop with the bear-campers thing.

Barrie didn’t win immunity from the Elimination Challenge but was given the opportunity to decide the proteins everyone would cook with three ways. Barrie rightly went with his strength and the Waygu beef and assigned pork to Thea and chicken to Trevor. They may have been buds up until now, but Barrie wasn’t giving Trevor an upper hand by doling out tasty pork in his direction. Thea slumped upon hearing the pork was headed her way, but I’m not sure why. Then I heard her plan: to take that beautiful chunk of porky goodness and turn it into schnitzel for one of her plates. I’m not above schnitzel, but this was the wrong application for the main ingredient. Barrie’s oil-poached beef was a mystery, Trevor’s chicken skin burned during his first try and time—and a burn—threatened to derail Thea.

Barrie was confident his beef would be up to snuff and relied on his side dishes to take him over the top. The problem? His Waygu was underdone. Claudio ripped Thea for her plating and said taste was the only thing that could save her. And in the early going it looked like she had. As for Trevor, astringent sauce spoiled some pretty good looking chicken skin.

Still, it was a no-brainer for Trevor to be named the first home cook in the season finale. And after undercooking such a lovely piece of beef, Barrie left the door open for Thea to sneak into the final too.

Do you agree with the judges’ decision? Who do you want to win MasterChef Canada? Let me know in the comments below.

The season finale of MasterChef Canada airs next Thursday at 9 p.m. ET on CTV.

Image courtesy of Bell Media.

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MasterChef Canada selects its Top 3 in emotional episode

We are just a few weeks away from the finale on June 1, and I have to say this season of MasterChef Canada has been incredible. The guest judges have been A-list and the challenges are the most diverse and difficult I’ve ever seen. Everyone involved should be proud of the work they’ve done.

That, of course, goes for the home cooks who have been put through an emotional wringer this season. They’ve made it this far, but one was set to fall on Thursday night.

“Harvest Family Dinner” began with the final team challenge set on a farm on a crisp autumn day. The word “Family” in the episode title was, of course, a hint that producers would throw Barrie, Trevor, Mai and Thea for an emotional loop by bringing their families in to try out their menus. Barrie, who won the last challenge before Miranda was eliminated, chose his teammate. Her kept the bromance going with Trevor by selecting him, putting Mai and Thea together. The winners of the challenge would immediately be put into the Top 3 … and things got serious super-fast.

I can only imagine how fast that two hours of prep and cooking time must have flown by for the final four, but camera work was a pretty good indication. Hands and feet flew, eyes were focused and every home cook was out of breath. Barrie and Trevor opted for an elevated hunter’s meal of venison while Mai and Thea opted for a surf and turf of bison steak and scallops to reflect their home provinces. Barrie and Trevor worked side by side but without collaboration, trusting each other to pull their weight. Thea and Mai, meanwhile, made recommendations to each other and kept up the advice, and Mai threatened to take over. Which method of working would end up being the winning formula? Remember that it was Thea and Mai’s conflicting advice that had a hand in Justine’s elimination a few weeks ago.

Barrie’s wine sauce for the venison and Thea’s scallops threatened to derail the plans of both squads. The sauce was fixed and the scallops weren’t, meaning that chunk of protein was ignored and Thea’s time had been wasted. Two layers of doneness on the venison was a knock against Barrie and Trevor; the same went for Mai and Thea as Alvin’s steak was overdone. You have got to nail the doneness on protein if you want to score well on MasterChef Canada and those misses were Week 1 mistakes.

Trevor and Barrie won, sending them into the Top 3 and Mai and Thea into the Elimination Challenge. For that, the pair would have to replicate a Hawaiian cloud dessert containing a ginger cookie, pineapple sponge cake and frozen kiwi hidden under a cotton candy cloud. It seemed like an impossible task for Thea and Mai to achieve—I’d love to see Alvin, Claudio or Michael make one—and it looked in the early going like a too-puffy cake would eliminate Mai. But Thea’s candy cloud was a tad deflated and her sponge cake too dense … but her tuille was perfect. Mai’s cloud was fluffier, but a piece of foil from the butter ruined her otherwise wonderful sponge cake.

Mai was eliminated from the competition, meaning Thea is headed to the Top 3 alongside Barrie and Trevor. MasterChef Canada is taking a break for one week during U.S. May Sweeps and returns May 25.

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

Images courtesy of Bell Media.

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Getting fishy in the MasterChef Canada kitchen

Some of my favourite episodes of culinary competitions challenge the contestants to show their knife skills. Top Chef Canada All-Stars did it a couple of weeks ago when the chefs prepped ingredients in a speed test and MasterChef Canada did it this week with salmon.

“Take Five” began with Michael Bonacini, Alvin Leung and Claudio Aprile performing a masterclass with the ruby-fleshed fish. I was hoping the trio would explain what was in their glaze, crust and poaching liquid so I could replicate the recipes at home, but editing cut all that down to before and after shots. Pity. I’d also hoped the judges would demonstrate how to properly break down a salmon, pulling out pin bones and filleting it for their recipes. Instead, we had to sit through agonizing moments watching Miranda’s knife slide around inside her poor salmon.

Claudio questioned Barrie’s decision to pair a lemon cream sauce with his rich, crusted fish and Alvin was excited to try Trevor’s fried fish eyes. Urp. Miranda, Trevor and Barrie had their plates tested and Trevor was nailed for his grainy potato purée. And though Claudio was still critical of Barrie’s cream sauce, he liked the crust on the fish. It was Miranda, with no experience breaking down or cooking salmon, who won this week’s challenge. (The look of shock on Trevor’s face was stellar.)

The Elimination Challenge was a major curve ball. After weeks of access to copious ingredients and a tricked-out pantry, the Top 5 were tasked with using just five ingredients in their next creation. As if cooking with just five things wasn’t difficult enough, once everyone was done shopping Miranda’s advantage kicked in: she switched all the baskets. Thea got Mai’s basket of pasta ingredients, Barrie received Thea’s halibut and corn, Trevor was given Barrie’s beef broth and chorizo sausage and Mai got Trevor’s pasta ingredients. I’m not sure if Miranda was playing favourites or not, but she gave Mai four of the five ingredients she’d initially picked, so Mai definitely had an advantage. Miranda, naturally, kept her own basket containing flank steak.

Thea had issues immediately—she’s allergic to shellfish and has never prepped shrimp before—and began deveining the little critters by cutting into their bottoms. No vein there, Thea. Miranda, who has helped so many of her competitors in the past, stepped up again and showed Thea what to do before returning to her own station. Would the fact Thea can’t taste her dish hurt her chances at staying in the competition?

Trevor’s shrimp succotash was impressive, though Alvin wanted two heads to go with the two tails. Still, the flavours were there. Miranda, who kept her ingredients and had an advantage, undercooked her steak and—more grievously—cut it against the grain, a major no-no on a tough cut of beef. Unless everyone else messed up royally, Miranda was going to taking off her apron. Mai’s amateur plating was offset by delicious egg-filled pasta and Barrie’s halibut and corn was a winner. It all came down to Thea … and she erroneously included a vein in shrimp onto her pasta. Barrie received top marks for the week with Trevor close behind, leaving Miranda and Thea, unsurprisingly, in the bottom; Miranda was shown the door.

I’m going to miss Miranda’s humour and, most of all, her gamesmanship when it came to supporting the other home cooks. Were you surprised Miranda was eliminated? What have you thought of this season so far? Let me know in the comments below!

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

Images courtesy of Bell Media.

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