Everything about Masterchef Canada, eh?

MasterChef Canada: Beccy inspires the home cooks in teen Mystery Box challenge

Last week on MasterChef Canada, the home cooks found themselves preparing dinner for a couple and over 100 wedding guests. They were definitely out of their comfort zone having to work as a team so early in the season.

On Monday night, the remaining competitors were back in the somewhat cozy confines of the MasterChef Canada kitchen for the latest Mystery Box challenge. The cooks revealed pictures of themselves when they were teenagers (Josh’s frosted tips were something to behold), and asked to make something that was favourite back then. (For me, it would be elevated Kraft Dinner or a cheese omelette.) To inspire them, Chefs Alvin, Michael and Claudio unboxed a very special guest: Season 5 winner Beccy Stables. After a quick update on Beccy—she and her family have moved to Kelowna, B.C., and started a catering company, Bec Catering—the home cooks got down to business.

Alyssa chose to elevate hockey rink food by preparing lobster poutine, Rozin created a deconstructed lox and bagel, and Chanelle opted for egg-filled ravioli. Tony went with pasta too, re-creating his mother’s Pasta e Fagioli (The funniest/saddest moment of the night to that point was Beccy laughing at Tony’s teen picture because it was in black and white.). Time quickly became the enemy for most of the home cooks. Josh had forgotten about his fruit gel in the blast chiller and it had frozen; it was a key component to his cake and he opted for a coulis instead.

The judges chose Jennifer’s modern beef stroganoff (“You have a great culinary mind,” Chef Michael said.), Rozin’s lox and bagel (“I like it,” said Chef Alvin) and Josh’s Mexican chocolate cake with berry coulis (“It’s like a symphony of flavours happening,” Chef Claudio said.). Josh won the Mystery Box, signifying he should step out of his comfort zone and try to make the odd sweet treat. Josh was safe from participating in the Elimination Challenge, leaving his competitors to each pick a box with a trio of spices in them to cook with. There were also two “Got Out of Cooking Free” cards available; Alyssa and Cryssi snagged those and were safe.

Andre was befuddled by his trio of caraway seed, cumin and savory, Jenny dreaded her celery seed, fennel seed and cayenne pepper, and Rozin had perhaps the toughest spices in lavender, rosemary and white pepper. Regardless, the home cooks had 60 minutes to create something and got down to it. Chanelle’s spices tweaked Asian, so she went with shrimp; Jennifer’s cloves and cinnamon signalled an apple dessert; Rozin picked lamb to counter his floral spices; and Tony used nutmeg, coriander and cardamom in his pasta plate. Alyssa and Chef Michael both expressed concern that Tony was relying too much on his Italian roots. After all, MasterChef Canada is as much about exploring new things as it is on comfort.

Andre might have seemed confused in the beginning, but his oxtail with panko eggplant and caraway naan was a winner, and Chanelle’s vermicelli bowl with shrimp received a good review from Chef Alvin even though the sage was lost. Meanwhile, Tony’s cheese stuffed ravioli with lamb ragout was a dud for Chef Claudio, who questioned the home cook’s range; Rozin’s lamb Salisbury steak was overpowered by lavender and toughened by oat flour; Jennifer’s apple concoction was a winner. As for Jenny’s surf and turf … there was too much celery seed on her pork tenderloin and her kimchi was bitter, the mark of inexperience with spices.

The top home cooks for the week were Jennifer and Andre, who will be captains in the next team challenge. Sadly, Jenny and Tony were in the bottom, with soccer coach Tony being eliminated from the competition.

Do you think Tony deserved to go home? Which teen dish would you have recreated in the MasterChef Canada kitchen? Let me know in the comments below.

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

Images courtesy of Bell Media.

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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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MasterChef Canada gets cooking with Season 6 on CTV

With the coming of spring (finally), so too was the return of MasterChef Canada (finally). And what a return it was! A jam-packed two hours kicked off Season 6 with, once again, the goal of awarding the top home cook in this fine land and giving them $100,000.

And, in a twist to the audition process, judges Claudio Aprile, Alvin Leung and Michael Bonacini personally sifted through a pile of audition photos to choose the Top 18 finalists to do battle. It’s always interesting to see how the finalists interact with the judges—and each other—this early in the competition. Nerves almost always come into play, as do egos and large personalities. Both can get you eliminated pretty quickly.

Once the hand-delivered messages from the judges were delivered, we had our Top 18.

  • Alyssa LeBlanc, Former Public Servant, from Tusket, N.S.
  • Andre Bhagwandat, Hospital Housekeeper, from Scarborough, Ont.
  • Chanelle Saks, Entrepreneur, from Calgary
  • Cliff McArthur, IT Support Analyst, from Scarborough, Ont.
  • Colin Buckingham, Car Salesman, from St. John’s
  • Cryssi Larocque, Former Airline Agent, from Thunder Bay, Ont.
  • Jamie Mayer, Healthcare Portfolio Manager, from Toronto
  • Jennifer Crawford, Senior Policy Analyst, from Kingston, N.S.
  • Jenny Miller, Stay-at-Home Mom, from Havre Boucher, N.S.
  • Josh Miller, Youth Care Home Manager, from Regina
  • Kimberly Fitzpatrick, Writer, from Ottawa
  • Laurie Dingwall, Retired, from Lac Saguay, Qué.
  • Lena Huynh, Lash Technician, from Burnaby, B.C.
  • Marie Le Bel, Entrepreneur, from Westmount, Qué.
  • Mark Hamilton, Firefighter, from Mission, B.C.
  • Rozin Abbas, Digital Marketer, from Toronto
  • Steven Lapointe, International Figure Skater, from Acton Vale, Qué.
  • Tony La Ferrara, Soccer Coach and Retired Teacher, from Whitby, Ont.

And, as has become the custom, those finalists were tasked with preparing a signature dish in hopes of sticking around and acquiring a white apron. Each group of six—chosen by Michael, Claudio or Alvin—took a turn cooking for the judge who signed their invitation. Alvin’s group went first, with the Demon Chef serving as coach. But, in a twist, the signature dish had to be made with chicken. That threw a wrench in the plans of any home cook expecting to make their special plate. I like the shakeup in gameplay, especially when Alvin took some potshots at Michael’s expense.

Cliff’s chicken and waffles landed him an apron, and Alyssa and Josh joined him. Sadly, the other three home cooks invited by Alvin were sent home.

Up next was Chef Michael’s six, preparing something with beef as the focus. Unfortunately, Tony nicked himself during prep and was sidelined for several moments, putting his future in jeopardy. He still finished it and received an apron. Marie was the lone home cook from Michael’s team who was not handed an apron.

Finally, Chef Claudio’s six home cooks took to the floor and prepared shrimp dishes. The standouts were Jennifer’s tart, Rozin’s shrimp and grits and Andre’s curry. Cryssi received the final apron of the episode, setting up the Top 12.

There was barely a moment to celebrate before Episode 2 kicked off with the Top 12 facing their first Mystery Box and Elimination Challenges of Season 6.

Root vegetables were the name of the game for the Mystery Box, testing each home cook to reveal their own roots with an original recipe. It was interesting to see how quickly home cooks like Andre and Colin settled into plating something celebrating their upbringing or background for the second episode in a row, with the former creating a spicy Cajun purée and the latter cod with root vegetables. The judges selected Jennifer’s trout with root vegetable “scales,” Cryssi’s roasted root vegetable soup and Jenny’s vegetables five ways. Jenny won the Mystery Box a test and was safe from elimination for the week.

The season’s first Elimination Challenge featured nine different proteins for 11 cooks. Jenny’s other advantage? Saving two compatriots; she picked Cryssi and Jennifer to stick around. While some home cooks were happy to select a protein they had experience with, others chose an item they didn’t, choosing to challenge themselves. Kudos to Chanelle for taking the octopus. Meanwhile, Colin was struggling over on his station and managed to burn his salmon and had to start again. Luckily, he had more to prepare but was running out of time. Rozin wasn’t so lucky and scorched some of his lamb ragu, and Cliff discovered his duck leg wasn’t cooked enough to pull away from the bone.

The Top 2 plates were prepared by Chanelle and Tony, who are captains for next week’s team challenge. At the other end of the spectrum were Colin, Steven, Alyssa and Cliff. Alyssa and Colin were given another chance, meaning Cliff and Steven’s time in the kitchen had come to an end.

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

Image courtesy of Bell Media.

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MasterChef Canada returns with a special two-hour premiere, April 8 on CTV

From a media release:

Who will be named Canada’s next MasterChef? CTV today revealed the Top 18 MASTERCHEF CANADA home cooks competing for a chance to be one of six in the elite group of title holders and take home the $100,000 cash prize. A 2019 Canadian Screen Award nominee, Season 6 of MASTERCHEF CANADA kicks off with a special two-hour premiere on Monday, April 8 beginning at 8 p.m. ET/PT on CTV before settling into its regular Mondays at 9 p.m. ET/PT timeslot. Viewers can then stream all episodes anytime on CTV.ca and the CTV app.

Keeping the heat on high for this season’s Top 18 are esteemed judges Michael Bonacini (O&B restaurant empire), Alvin Leung (Bo Innovation in Hong Kong), and Claudio Aprile (Copetin Restaurant & Bar). With only a limited number of white aprons up for grabs, the home cooks have to prove they have the culinary skills to cut it in the MASTERCHEF CANADA kitchen. In a new twist this season, each judge selects six home cooks to invite to the Top 18, with each member receiving personal invitations delivered via courier.

Below are the Top 18 home cooks vying for a white apron and ultimately contending for the MASTERCHEF CANADA title.

  • Alyssa LeBlanc, Former Public Servant, from Tusket, N.S.
  • Andre Bhagwandat, Hospital Housekeeper, from Scarborough, Ont.
  • Chanelle Saks, Entrepreneur, from Calgary, Alta.
  • Cliff McArthur, IT Support Analyst, from Scarborough, Ont.
  • Colin Buckingham, Car Salesman, from St. John’s, N.L.
  • Cryssi Larocque, Former Airline Agent, from Thunder Bay, Ont.
  • Jamie Mayer, Healthcare Portfolio Manager, from Toronto, Ont.
  • Jennifer Crawford, Senior Policy Analyst, from Kingston, N.S.
  • Jenny Miller, Stay-at-Home Mom, from Havre Boucher, N.S.
  • Josh Miller, Youth Care Home Manager, from Regina, S.K.
  • Kimberly Fitzpatrick, Writer, from Ottawa, Ont.
  • Laurie Dingwall, Retired, from Lac Saguay, Qué.
  • Lena Huynh, Lash Technician, from Burnaby, B.C.
  • Marie Le Bel, Entrepreneur, from Westmount, Qué.
  • Mark Hamilton, Firefighter, from Mission, B.C.
  • Rozin Abbas, Digital Marketer, from Toronto, Ont.
  • Steven Lapointe, International Figure Skater, from Acton Vale, Qué.
  • Tony La Ferrara, Soccer Coach and Retired Teacher, from Whitby, Ont.

In each episode of MASTERCHEF CANADA, the home cooks have their culinary expertise tested through a series of Mystery Box Challenges, Team Challenges, and Pressure Tests, with the judges providing direction and feedback throughout the process. At the end of each episode, at least one home cook is eliminated from the competition until only two remain, culminating in a battle during the finale for a chance to take home $100,000 and the sought-after title of MASTERCHEF CANADA

Throughout the season, fans are invited to visit CTV.ca/MasterChefCanada for exclusive content, including background on the Season 6 finalists and the MASTERCHEF CANADA judges, as well as interviews, highlights, recipes, and more. CTV.ca also offers viewers a behind-the-scenes look at this season’s challenges, delectable dishes, victories, and defeats.

Before Canadians take a bite into the new season, CTV invites viewers to relive all the culinary action from previous editions of MASTERCHEF CANADA, now streaming on Crave and available on demand at CTV.ca and on the CTV app. New episodes of MASTERCHEF CANADA are available on-demand the day following the broadcast premieres on CTV.

The MASTERCHEF format and finished programs are represented internationally by Endemol Shine Group. This includes MASTERCHEF JUNIOR, which airs Tuesdays at 8 p.m. ET/PT beginning March 12 on CTV2. With over 60 local adaptations broadcast in more than 200 countries, MasterChef is the world’s most successful cookery television format. MasterChef was created by Franc Roddam.

MASTERCHEF CANADA is produced by Proper Television in association with CTV. Proper’s Co-President Cathie James is the Executive Producer and Showrunner and Co-President Lesia Capone is Executive Producer.

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CTV dishes out a sixth season of hit culinary series MasterChef Canada

From a media release:

Following MASTERCHEF CANADA’s youngest-ever winner, Beccy Stables being crowned earlier this summer, CTV announced today Season 6 of its hit culinary competition series MASTERCHEF CANADA for the 2018/2019 broadcast season. Casting for passionate home cooks looking to follow their food dreams is now open at CTV.ca/MasterChefCanada, 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 Canadian home cooks to elevate their cooking and presentation skills to a professional level, as they 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 15 program on Canadian television with all key demos this past spring, Season 5 of MASTERCHEF CANADA averaged 1.2 million total viewers weekly.

Casting for Season 6 of MASTERCHEF CANADA is now open at CTV.ca/MasterChefCanada. Passionate and talented Canadian home cooks hungry for an opportunity to capture the life-changing title of Canada’s next MasterChef have until Sunday, Sept. 30, 2018, at 11:59 p.m. ET to apply online. Further to online casting submissions, invitation-only auditions will be held across Canada this summer, so home cooks are encouraged to get their applications in soon. In addition, an in-person Open Casting Call will be held in Toronto on Sunday, Sept. 30 – for more information, visit CTV.ca/MasterChefCanada.

Viewers can relive all the culinary action from the MASTERCHEF CANADA Kitchen with Season 5 episodes available on demand at CTV.ca, CTV GO app. Season 5 is also available on CraveTV™ and airing Mondays at 7 p.m. ET on Gusto.

The MASTERCHEF format and finished programmes are represented internationally by Endemol Shine Group, and is based on a format originally created by Franc Roddam.

MASTERCHEF CANADA is produced by Proper Television in association with CTV. Proper’s Co-President Cathie James is the Executive Producer and Showrunner and Co-President Lesia Capone is Executive Producer.

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