Announced today in advance of the Bell Media Upfront, CTV confirms it has ordered THE GOOD STUFF WITH MARY BERG, an all-new, one-hour, daily talk and lifestyle series from Bell Media Studios for the upcoming 2023/24 broadcast season. Hosted by multiple Canadian Screen Award-winning host and author Mary Berg, THE GOOD STUFF WITH MARY BERG is set to tape before a live studio audience weekday mornings on CTV from Bell Media’s iconic 299 Queen St. West location in Toronto.
A daily hour of fun, food, and laughs, THE GOOD STUFF WITH MARY BERG features lifestyle trends, home hacks, audience games, and inspiring stories – all from top experts. Berg dives right in – from sharing daily, delicious and approachable recipes for the home cook, to cook-a-long sessions with guest chefs, and getting her hands dirty with gardening, DIYs, home renovations and more. As well, Berg welcomes notable guests, including authors, celebrities, influencers, and everyday heroes.
In addition, CTV confirms that sponsorship and branding opportunities are immediately available for the original series. From brand integration and social extensions, to custom content, shoppable media and sponsored activations, THE GOOD STUFF WITH MARY BERG is set to work with brands to offer consumers engaging experiences.
Berg can currently be seen in new episodes of CROSS COUNTRY CAKE OFF, airing Fridays at 9 p.m. ET/PT on CTV, CTV.ca, and the CTV app. As well, beginning July 13, Berg will host MARY’S RESERVATION FOR TWO, a brand-new podcast from Bell Media Studios, taped on location at some of the top foodie hot spots in Toronto, featuring one-on-one conversations with guests who inspire Berg in and out of the kitchen. New episodes will be available Thursdays on iHeartRadio and everywhere podcasts are found. In addition, it was confirmed today that original culinary series MARY MAKES IT EASY has been greenlit for a third season, set to debut on CTV Life Channel this fall.
THE GOOD STUFF WITH MARY BERG is produced by Bell Media Studios. Michelle Crespi and John Simpson are Executive Producers; Dave Daigle is Vice-President, Local TV, Radio, and Bell Media Studios.
There’s a reason Mary Berg has resonated with audiences and judges, first on MasterChef Canada and then with Mary’s Kitchen Crush. What you see is what you get with Berg, and you can’t help but cheer her on.
The two-time Canadian Screen award winner is back with her latest series for Bell Media, helming Mary Makes it Easy. Debuting Monday at 8 p.m. Eastern on CTV Life Channel, Berg brings viewers into her real-life kitchen for easy-to-make (and equally easy to tweak) recipes, delivered with her trademark smile and humour.
We spoke to Mary Berg about Mary Makes it Easy, what viewers can expect from Season 1 and what it’s like to be an award winner.
How did Mary Makes it Easy come about? Is this something that you pitched to Bell or was this a collaboration? Mary Berg: I think it was a bit of both, to be honest. We definitely pitched it to Bell. It’s no secret that I’m a sucker for a straight-ahead cooking show, in the kitchen, showing you how to make something, walking you through it, cooking show. And we definitely did that in Mary’s Kitchen Crush. With Kitchen Crush, it was about the end result. It was about the people coming over and making dishes inspired by people who you’re going to meet at the end, that was the payoff. In Mary Makes it Easy I think we did a good job at conveying this is it’s all about you and me in the kitchen together, because that is the biggest hurdle for most people.Â
It’s not necessarily having someone over. It’s how do you make something for friends, or even just your family that you live with or even just yourself? It is a hard thing to do when there are so many other options. This is about you and me, the person who doesn’t want to be pulling their hair out at the end of it when their guests arrive. It is just about prepping and making delicious food and making it as confident-filled and comfortable as possible for everybody.
You’ve always made it very accessible with your ingredients. Has that always been something that’s been important to you? Just keeping it easy for the home cook? MB: Totally. When I write recipes, I want someone who’s experienced in the kitchen to not think, ‘Oh, this is an easy recipe,’ but I want someone who isn’t also to feel like I’m there with them walking them through. With ingredients, especially over the last year and a half, my cooking style changed kind of completely. I don’t go to the grocery store every day anymore. I go once every two weeks, pretty much still like I’m still on that kind of schedule and it’s totally changed the way I cook. This show has a lot more options for substitutions. There are a lot more suggestions for if you don’t have this or you don’t like it, that’s fine. It’s not going to ruin the recipe. Make it yours because it’s about you.
How do you develop recipes? I love recipe development and I love food science. Basically, I have this Nancy Drew-style notebook, a composition book that I write my ideas in. I write what I think is going to work. I write estimated measurements and I just think about flavours that I think would go well together. It’s summertime right now, so obviously, everything I do has peaches and tomatoes in it because both of those things go so well together. So taking cues from what’s at the market, what’s at the grocery store, even what’s on sale, and then trying to figure out ways to do it in exciting but accessible and accomplishable ways.
You film Mary Makes it Easy in your actual kitchen. Was that always the plan? MB: This show was always going to be in my kitchen. I think I wanted to have people in my house [because] there’s a comfort level there that I think you can’t convey in a set in the same way. So having that and giving this whole show more of a comfortable, tight-knit, cozy, homey vibe, it feels a little more like you’re just hanging out at my, at my breakfast bar pretty much the whole time.
I enjoyed the bloopers at the end of the first episode. MB: Thanks, man! I wanted, throughout the show and throughout the episodes, to keep flubs in too. We kept things in where something goes wrong because that’s how it works. No one is perfect. In my world, in the kitchen, there’s no failing. You’re just like trying something and it might not work, but that means you learned how to make it not work. Sometimes things go wrong and you just roll with the punches and keep going.
Can you give me a hint about some of the upcoming episodes? The first is chicken. MB: We’ve got 25 episodes, and it was really fun coming up with the ideas for each episode because we wanted to think of common issues in the kitchen. For instance, chicken. It’s a great staple, so we wanted to do one that with 100 percent all on chicken. The next episode is date night. The thing with date night is no, you shouldn’t make like a souffle. That is an insane thing to do when you’re trying to impress someone because it’s going to go wrong. You need to do things that are quick, really impressive, but also still look like you aren’t sweaty and you just had a crying fit on the floor before your date arrived. There’s get ahead recipes, there’s one-pot there are lunches, there’s baking, baking recipes for like real beginners. Like if you want to make bread, I’ve got the bread for you as a beginner and you want to make a cheesecake, I got the cheesecake for you.
You recently won a second Canadian Screen Award. How does that feel?Â MB: It’s one thing to put something out there and think that you really like it and that the folks at Bell Media really like it, but it’s another when people vote and you find out that the Academy really likes you too. So how does that feel? Um, mindboggling. Oatmeal brain is what I call it. The fact that the show also won is so huge because so many people worked so hard on it. I know everyone says this, but I truly did not expect it either time.
I was a participation ribbon kid. I was the kid who you’re playing soccer and I’d be like, ‘No, I’m going to sit down and find a four leaf clover.’ It is really exciting and thrilling to work so hard on something and have that peer and Academy-based recognition.
Mary Makes it Easy airs Mondays at 8 p.m. ET/PT on CTV Life Channel.
Full of recipes guaranteed to impress without the stress, CTV Life Channel announced today that its new original culinary series MARY MAKES IT EASY premieres Mondays at 8 p.m. ET/PT, beginning Sept. 6. Hosted by Mary Berg, Canadaâ€™s culinary sweetheart and two-time Canadian Screen Award-winner for Best Host, Lifestyle for CTV Original series MARYâ€™S KITCHEN CRUSH, the first batch of MARY MAKES IT EASY consists of 12 half-hour episodes.
Filmed on location in Toronto at her very own home kitchen, MARY MAKES IT EASY features Berg as she shares step-by-step recipes, tips, and tricks that leave viewers with a newfound confidence to overcome their own culinary challenges.
From ideas on what to make with a fridge full of leftovers, to lackluster chicken emergencies, Berg eliminates kitchen worries by offering up plenty of helpful takeaways as she guides viewers through each recipe. Filled with charm and wit, in the premiere episode of MARY MAKES IT EASY, â€œWhat Are Ya, Chicken?,â€ airing Monday, Sept. 6 at 8 p.m. ET/PT on CTV Life Channel, Berg offers four exciting and delightful ways to expand viewersâ€™ chicken repertoire so it will never be boring or dry again!
Viewers can get a second helping of MARY MAKES IT EASY with exclusive content available on CTV.ca, including fun behind-the-scenes video extras, a kitchen tour, interviews, a recipe hub outlining all the delicious details behind Bergâ€™s dishes, plus exclusive recipes not featured in the series. Recipes featured on the series will also be available in French on noovomoi.ca.
MARY MAKES IT EASY is available for streaming on CTV.ca, and the CTV app, with episodes encoring Saturdays at 12 p.m. ET/PT on CTV and Saturdays at 7 p.m. ET/PT on CTV2 beginning Sept. 11. Leading up to the premiere, Bergâ€™s hit CTV series and two-time Canadian Screen Award-winner MARYâ€™s KITCHEN CRUSH is available now for streaming on CTV.ca and the CTV app with no subscription or sign-in required.
Joining MARY MAKES IT EASY as series partner is Stonemill Bakehouse, who will produce custom content around the show featuring Mary Berg. Stonemill Bakehouse breads will be included in several recipes throughout the season. The recipes will be shared across CTV Life Channelâ€™s social and digital platforms, and will also include targeted social promotion. In addition, Stonemill Bakehouse will receive curated media placement on broadcast and digital.
For the second consecutive year, Berg is the Canadian Screen Award-winner for Best Host, Lifestyle for MARYâ€™S KITCHEN CRUSH, a CTV Original series. MARYâ€™S KITCHEN CRUSH is a two-time Canadian Screen Award-winner for Best Lifestyle Program or Series, and the series is currently sold in more than 100 countries. Berg is the Season 3 winner of CTVâ€™s MASTERCHEF CANADA, as well as a cooking expert on YOUR MORNING, THE SOCIAL, and THE MARILYN DENIS SHOW on CTV. Best-selling author of Kitchen Party: Effortless Recipes for Every Occasion, Bergâ€™s new book Well Seasoned: A Yearâ€™s Worth of Delicious Recipes is set to be released in October 2021.
MARY MAKES IT EASY is produced by Boat Rockerâ€™s Proper Television. Cathie James, Lesia Capone, and Allison Grace are Executive Producers, Mary Berg is Co-Executive Producer, and David Donohue is Series Producer.
This season of MasterChef Canada has been like no other. By now, the teams will have gone outside for some kind of challenge. I’m assuming that to ensure everyone stayed safe, this didn’t happen. But, rather than missing that part of the show, I’ve relished staying in the studio and focusing on tough tests on-set.
The toughest so far took place on Sunday, as the remaining contestants were faced with Italian-themed challenges in a Pressure Test to eliminate at least one.
Following the Red team’s win last week, Blue team members Andrew, Jen, Mai, Andre and Barrie were welcomed by Chefs Claudio, Alvin and Michael, who informed everyone that one member from Jeremy’s winning squad would participate in the Pressure Test too … and he had to pick who. Whoa. I think if I was Team Captain and as confident in my skills as Jeremy is, I would put myself forward rather than someone else. Jeremy, instead, put Andy into the line of fire.
The two-part Pressure Test began with Chef Michael calling his son, Chef Oscar Bonacini, into the MasterChef Canada kitchen. And, whereas Oscar spent four months learning how to make hand-made pasta in Italy, the competitors had mere minutes to observe Oscar’s masterclass in creating three shapes of pasta (dimpled, braided, and curled), each more intricate than the one before it. Head-to-head battles ensued, with teams facing off to make one pasta and a traditional sauce to go with it. Red team’s Andy doled out the pairings this way:
Capunti with tomato sauce: himself and Barrie
Lorighittas in butter herb sauce: Mai and Andre
Trofie and pesto sauce: Jen and Andrew
The 25-minute deadline was definitely a challenge, though fresh pasta takes less time to cook. Everyone started in a frenzy, mixing the semolina flour with water to get just the right hydration and consistency. The sudden curveball that Barrie had experience making pasta threatened to derail Andy’s plan; Mai was confident she would beat Andre, but her Lorighitta looked less delicate than Oscars; and Jen opted to use her hands to shape the Trofie rather than use a fiddly bench scraper. With just minutes before the deadline, Andre’s water wasn’t boiling, Andy’s sauce seemed to have too much garlic and cheese added too soon, Andrew was bruising his basil in the blender, and Jen was taking too long prepping her basil with a mortar and pestle.
Andrew and Jen were up for judging first and Chef Alvin pulled no punches. Andrew’s pasta was inconsistent and his sauce was brown, but it had a nice flavour; Jen’s pasta was more consistent but small, but her sauce was delicious. Andrew got the win and moved to the gallery. Andre and Mai were next, judged by Chef Claudio. Though Andre’s pasta looked the most authentic, it wasn’t cooked all the way through; Mai’s pasta was pillowy and cooked to perfection but the sauce’s flavours weren’t as bright. Mai triumphed and moved to safety. Finally, Barrie and Andy presented to Chef Michael. Barrie’s pasta looked good and his sauce was vibrant, inviting, and on point; Andy’s pasta was within the size variance allowed and his sauce was darker and richer, and Chef Michael hinted there was an issue with it. The winner in the final round was Barrie’s better sauce.
Because of the teasers before the episodes rolled out, I knew an extra twist in the 60-minute test was coming. It arrived in the form of an added dish. Now the trio had to make a Contornoâ€”a side dishâ€”to accompany the Secondo. With just 30 minutes to go, I would have started crying, put down my apron, and walked out the door. Instead, Jen opted for a simple vegetable side dish, Andre a buttermilk-dressed salad, and Andy an orange and fennel salad.
After two weeks featuring the returning contestants jockeying for position in solitary tests, MasterChef Canada threw the group its first team challenge of the Back to Win season. And what a doozy it was.
But when the Top 10 reported for duty in the MasterChef kitchen, April Lee was missing. Had she decided to leave? Turns out April Lee injured herself and had to drop out of the competition. I looked at it as one less competitor to worry about. I was wrong about that because the producers brought back a competitor to take her place: Barrie.
The global pandemic has affected everyone, and restaurants are no different. Many have adjusted by offered take-out and delivery menus, the latter of which use services to get food to customers. MasterChef brilliantly employed the same idea on Sunday, tasking the Red and Blue teams with creating recipes to be delivered to hungry folks using the “MasterChef Canada 4U” app.
Captaining the Red team was Jeremy, who chose Andy, Christopher, Thea, and Marissa for his squad. Heading the Blue team was Mai, who picked Andre, Andrew, Jen, and Barrie to join her. Each team created three entrees with protein, vegetables, and starch as the main feature, to be rated out of five stars. With just one hour to prepare before the app went live for 200 select customers (100 per team) and a 90-minute cooking and serving window, it seemed like an impossible task. (I would have started crying.)
Jeremy chose to go with his strengthâ€”Filipino foodâ€”with a chicken Karaage bowl, charred eggplant, and sweet potato stew. Andy worried that, since Jeremy was the only one who knew what the flavour profiles should be, the team would be confused. Mai opted for bold flavours in jerk chicken wings, soba noodle salad, and mushroom tacos. Listening to the Blue team talk it out indicated to me (Barrie rightly had concerns about assembling tacos) they might have the upper hand in the challenge. But things can change once the clock starts running … and footage hits the editing suite.
The Red team started off the hour focusing on prepping vegetables for Jeremy’s plan, with him tackling sauces and flavours and Christopher rice and chicken. On the Blue team, Andrew took on the sauce, Barrie vegetables, and Andre the chicken wings; Jen floated around, helping wherever she could. Mai was concerned with Barrie’s performance and his somewhat cocksure attitude and Thea was worried a lack of communication on the Red group would sink them when the app went live. With minutes before orders were scheduled to come in, Andrew’s pork tenderloin was still raw and he had to refire the lot in hot pans.
Both teams reeled from the onslaught, struggling to keep up and figure out who should be calling out orders and who should be plating. With no servers and faceless customers, it was nuts. Andrew quickly recovered, calling out orders while the Blue team prepared containers. Andy, meanwhile, shouldered that for the Red squad so Jeremy could focus on plating.
Chefs Alvin, Michael, and Claudio, meanwhile, tasted and critiqued the food. Blue’s chicken wings were tasty but lacked true jerk heat. Red’s chicken Karaage poke bowl was impressive, but the trio yearned for more chicken pieces. And while Andrew was calling out orders for Blue, no one was doing that for Red, with Christopher telling Thea to “go look” to see what she had to prepare next. It was so concerning that Chef Michael stepped in and instructed Jeremy to do it. Not good.
Meanwhile, mushroom tacos threatened to be the Blue teams undoing. Three tacos and many ingredients per taco slowed them down considerably. What did Alvin, Claudio, and Michael think of those tacos? A nice concept but seriously lacking flavour. As for Blue’s charred eggplant, the trio used words like “underwhelmed,” “under-seasoned” and “bland.” Even worse, both teams were running low on ingredients. The Blue team addressed this by making more, while the Red chose smaller portions. I’d be upset if I was paying for food and got a small portion and Chef Claudio said exactly that.
It was time for the Chefs to taste each starch dish. Blue’s cold soba noodle salad with pork was a hit, and Red’s sweet potato noodles were “awesome” according to Chef Claudio.
It was up to the customers to decide, and with a 4.1-star rating out of five, the win was delivered to Jeremy’s Red team.
But in a bit of a shake-up with episode timing, we won’t find out which member of the Blue team might be leaving the competition until next week during a surprise-filled Pressure Test. Who do you think might go home next week? Let me know in the comments below.
MasterChef Canada: Back to Win airs Sundays at 9 p.m. ET/PT on CTV.