Tag Archives: CTV

Mary’s Kitchen Crush showcases Mary Berg’s cooking skills and heart

When I first met Mary Berg, it was to shadow her during her MasterChef Canada Season 3 audition. As we spoke that day, I was struck by her enthusiasm and passion for food, and her humour. She went on to show that during MasterChef Canada, eventually winning Season 3. We reconnected during the filming of Berg’s first television series, Mary’s Kitchen Crush, and she hasn’t changed one bit.

Debuting on Sunday at 7 p.m. ET/PT on CTV, Mary’s Kitchen Crush has Berg’s touches all over it, from the recipes she makes—three to four originals per episode inspired by someone who has made a meaningful impact on her life—to the show’s set, sprinkled with photos and other personal items. In the first episode, it’s Berg’s mother, Myra, who arrives to enjoy the fruits of her daughter’s labour via an herb and garlic stuffed lamb tenderloin with oven-roasted asparagus, garlic and herb flatbread, and a strawberry-rhubarb galette for dessert.

“The reason I did catering was that I just wanted to share my food with people outside of my own kitchen,” Berg says during a break in filming last year. “The fact that I get to share my recipes with people through different avenues is really exciting.”

The program’s production company, Proper Television, is smart to let Berg be her charming, geeky self, madly waving her arms around (and uttering some truly bad jokes) as she creates tasty plates that are accessible and easy for home cooks. Thirty episodes of Mary’s Kitchen Crush were filmed—with a total of roughly 145 recipes—over a two-month production schedule.

“I’m a little bit of a Type-A personality and a control freak,” Berg says with a laugh. “It was basically me sitting in a barcalounger at my cottage writing and working.” Berg wrote all of the recipes, tested about half herself and tested the rest with the show’s culinary team. The goal is for the recipes to work and for viewers to actually make them. And while she loves nothing better than to spend an entire Sunday tweaking a recipe, Berg knows home cooks simply don’t have that time.

“All of the recipes for this show, and anything that I’m developing in general, I think, ‘Could my mother do this?'” Berg says. “She’s not great in the kitchen, and if Myra Berg can do it anybody can do it.”

Mary’s Kitchen Crush airs Sundays at 7 p.m. ET/PT on CTV.

Image courtesy of Bell Media.


Link: Jann’s Zoie Palmer on going head to head with Jann Arden

From Bridget Liszewski of The TV Junkies:

Link: Jann’s Zoie Palmer on going head to head with Jann Arden
“It’s been a blast and so great to do something so different from what I’m used to. I’ve done all kinds of different parts in my career but this is such a departure, doing comedy is really a different muscle and it’s been great to get to use that.” Continue reading.


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.


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.