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.