Tag Archives: Masterchef Canada

MasterChef Canada: One Home Cook is eliminated, again

This newest season of MasterChef Canada (Season 7) is dubbed “Back to Win.” It’s pretty self-explanatory—past competitors have returned to the kitchen in a bid to capture the title—and I give credit to Proper Television for choosing worthy and interesting home cooks to do it.

From runner-ups like Jeremy, Thea and Andre, to personalities like Barrie and April Lee, this group deserved another shot and got it on Sunday night. It was great to see them back in the shiny stadium alongside judges Micheal Bonacini, Alvin Leung and Claudio Aprile.

The first few minutes of Sunday’s return was spent catching up with the 12 home cooks and what they’ve been up to. Jeremy opened a catering company, Thea does recipe development, Marissa is seeking a fresh start, Andrew runs a restaurant, Jen attended culinary school, Christopher had to close his cafe due to the pandemic, Andre has been a frontline worker cleaning operating rooms, and Mai started a dumpling business.

All want to take the title they feel they should have won the first time around and pocketed $100,000.

Not content with the usual challenges, Chef Michael warned the home cooks that the tests would be tougher than ever. That began right away, with the Mystery Box Challenge, which was the sole focus of Sunday’s instalment.

Under each wooden crate was the worst dish each home cook had prepared on MasterChef Canada, and they were tasked with making it a winner. Not only that, but at least one home cook would be eliminated from the competition. So yeah, the stakes were higher.

For April Lee, that meant re-jigging her disastrous piña colada dessert into a mousse; for Andrew is was turning a horrible soft-poached egg into shakshouka; for Christopher, it was transforming ground pork into dim sum; and for Marissa, re-working octopus and pork into a stunner of a plate. There were issues along the way, as Thea’s chicken wasn’t cooking properly and April Lee’s mousse separated; standard issues that could mean going home immediately.

When it came to judging, Andy’s lobster chowder impressed Michael; Dora’s beef cheek po’boy was flavourful but should have made her own bread, according to Claudio; Jeremy’s monkfish wowed Alvin; Christopher’s dim sum was delicious but needed more flavour, Claudio opined; Thea’s crispy chicken was dry, said Alvin; Andrew’s eggs were wonderfully runny; Marissa’s chicken and tempura squid with pork belly was clunky, said Claudio; Andre’s pickled coconut pasta and sea urchin was loved by Alvin; Barrie’s Waygu beef tartare impressed Michael; Mai’s salmon in green curry was very good according to Alvin; Jen’s steak and potatoes were delicious, said Claudio; and April Lee’s lemon curd was delicious but her presentation was bad, advised Claudio.

The result? Andre was deemed the winner, and will be given an advantage in next week’s episode. As for the bottom dishes, April Lee, Marissa and Dora found themselves in the bottom. And while April Lee and Marissa were given another chance, Dora wasn’t. She exited the MasterChef kitchen, again.

MasterChef Canada: Back to Win airs Sundays at 9 p.m. ET/PT on CTV.

Images courtesy of Bell Media.

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Former competitors prepare for redemption in Masterchef Canada: Back To Win

From a media release:

Through the previous six seasons of MASTERCHEF CANADA, 82 competitors earned a coveted white apron, but only six rose to the very top earning the sought-after title. For the all-new season, talented and passionate former competitors return to the MASTERCHEF CANADA Kitchen for an unprecedented second chance in MASTERCHEF CANADA: BACK TO WIN. Airing Sundays at 9 p.m. ET/PT beginning Feb. 14 on CTV, and the all-new CTV.ca and CTV app, MASTERCHEF CANADA: BACK TO WIN sees former competitors from previous seasons compete for another chance at the life-changing title, $100,000 cash prize, and a “Chef’s Culinary Package” courtesy of long-running series partner and official major appliance sponsor, Miele.

MASTERCHEF CANADA judges and 2020 Canadian Screen Awards nominees for “Best Host or Presenter, Factual or Reality/Competition”, Michael Bonacini (O&B restaurant empire), Alvin Leung (Bo Innovation in Hong Kong), and Claudio Aprile (Xango in Toronto), return to advise, mentor, and critique the cooks as they compete in a series of culinary challenges. This season, the judges’ expectations are higher than ever, putting experienced cooks to the test as they face the toughest hurdles ever seen in the MASTERCHEF CANADA Kitchen.

The 12 returning cooks vying for the MASTERCHEF CANADA title are:

  • Andre Bhagwandat – Season 6, 2nd place – Private Events and Pop-Ups, from Whitby, Ont.
  • Andrew Al-Khouri – Season 2, 10th place – Restaurateur from Halifax, N.S
  • Andy Hay – Season 5, 2nd place – Food Content Creator from Dartmouth, N.S.
  • April Lee Baker – Season 3, 5th place – Private Chef and Caterer from Calgary, Alta.
  • Barrie McConachie – Season 4, 3rd place – Private Chef and Culinary Events, from Vancouver, B.C.
  • Christopher Siu – Season 2, 5th place – Bakery Owner from Markham, Ont.
  • Dora Cote – Season 1, 11th place – Former Restaurateur/Plumber from Wainwright, Alta.
  • Jen Jenkins – Season 5, 8th place – Culinary Student from Niagara Falls, Ont.
  • Jeremy Senaris – Season 3, 2nd place – Private Chef from Winnipeg, Man.
  • Mai Nguyen – Season 4, 4th place – Dumpling Business Owner from Edmonton, Alta.
  • Marissa Leon-John – Season 5, 7th place – Private Chef from Montréal, Qué.
  • Thea Vanherwaarden – Season 4, 2nd place – Recipe Developer and Content Creator from Vancouver, B.C

The 12 competitors span all previous six seasons, and include a range of former finalists and tough competitors who were taken out too soon. With sky-high stakes, the competitors will need to prove to the judges that they’ve further honed their skills, knowledge, passion, and creativity – they have a tougher mountain to climb as they vie for the title for the second time. The cooks will take on everything from high-intensity skills tests to gruelling challenges, while impressing special guests and world-renowned chefs. In the end, the top cooks face off in the finale showdown. Visit TheLede.ca for cook bios and photos.

Throughout the season, fans are invited to visit CTV.ca/MasterChefCanada for exclusive content, including information on the Season 7 finalists and the MASTERCHEF CANADA judges, as well as interviews, highlights, recipes, and more. CTV.ca and the CTV app also offers viewers a behind-the-scenes look at this season’s challenges, delectable dishes, victories, and defeats

Leading up to the Season 7 premiere, viewers across the country can satisfy their MASTERCHEF CANADA cravings and relive all the culinary action from previous seasons of the series available on the all-new CTV.ca and on the CTV app, along with Seasons 4-6 now streaming on Crave. New episodes of MASTERCHEF CANADA are available on-demand the day following their broadcast premieres on CTV.

The MasterChef format and finished programs are represented internationally by Banijay. 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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MasterChef Canada: Tessa Virtue helps crown the Top 2

With the MasterChef Canada season finale airing next week, Monday’s episode featured the Top 3—Jennifer, Andre and Josh—battling it out for a chef’s jacket and the chance to pocket $100,000. To help out, Olympic Ice Dancer Tessa Virtue was on hand as a special guest (catch she and Scott Moir as guest judges on Battle of the Blades this fall).

Here’s what happened.

In the final Mystery Box challenge of the season, the cube was lifted on a MasterChef logo shrouded by fog. The theme of the challenge was Fire and Ice, meaning the concept had to be applied to Josh, Andre and Jennifer’s recipes. Chefs Alvin, Michael and Claudio and Tessa were looking for a wow factor in look and taste. Tessa was also interested in the story behind each dish.

Jennifer’s first thought was of her father and his favourite birthday food, bacon-wrapped scallops, which became the base of a recipe that included a rum and cola glaze and dulce ice cream pearls. Josh went for a duck plate augmented with a smoking puck and frozen vinaigrette for his salad. Andre aimed for something we’ve never seen from him on the show: a Japanese grill platter utilizing a fire pit, and exploding leaves.

A woman stands, with a shocked look on her face.Andre’s steak by the fire was simply spectacular to look at, with glowing embers the highlight of the plate. Michael and Alvin, and Tessa were all impressed by the look at taste. At first glance, Jennifer’s plate looked cluttered and messy, a hodgepodge of things and ideas. But the flavours were there; Claudio was particularly impressed by the dulce pearls. And Josh’s smoked duck and salad wowed Michael, Tessa and Claudio. I felt like Andre had a slight edge on Jennifer and Josh; the judges agreed and he was crowned the winner.,

Andre didn’t score a fast track to the finale—that would have been too easy—but he did land a major advantage in the Elimination Challenge, choosing who would create a tasting menu with which Canadian cheese. The problem? Andre is lactose intolerant. Oops. The choices were ash-ripened goat cheese from Quebec, cloth-bound cheddar from Prince Edward Island and blue cheese from British Columbia. Andre picked the goat cheese for himself and assigned the cheddar to Jennifer and blue to Josh. His plot was sound: give Jennifer an easy cheese she might overthink and hand Josh a cheese too strong to handle.

A man stands at an oven, cooking.Jennifer aimed for French cheese puffs, updated broccoli and cheese, and a tarte Tatin. Josh opted for a blue cheese dip that he turned into a soup, butternut squash and blue cheese ravioli, and blue cheese cheesecake. Andre decided on a mushroom macaroni and cheese, Brussel sprout and goat cheese salad, and pear and goat cheese mousseline. The judges were worried Josh would run out of time but it was Andre who missed putting puff pastry on his dessert.

Alvin enjoyed Jennifer’s broccoli and cheese recipe, Michael loved her apple tart, but Claudio thought she missed the mark with her puffs. Alvin liked Andre’s mac and cheese, Michael thought the Brussels sprouts could have been charred more, but Claudio thought the goat cheese was missing from the pears. Michael thought Josh’s soup was a little thin but flavourful, Claudio liked the pasta but it was a tad short on cheese flavour, and Alvin thought the cheesecake was very, very good.

The result? Jennifer was the first home cook earmarked for the season finale. Going head-to-head with her is Andre. Josh put up one heck of a fight and showed consistent growth as the weeks went by during Season 6. He should be proud of what he accomplished.

Who do you pick to be this season’s MasterChef Canada winner? Let me know in the comments below.

The MasterChef Canada season finale goes next Monday at 9 p.m. ET/PT on CTV.

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MasterChef Canada: The home cooks welcome family but say goodbye to two

MasterChef Canada had a special treat for fans on Monday night, as CTV broadcast back-to-back episodes. Of course, the double-dose did have a dark side: we said goodbye to two home cooks.

In the first episode of the night, the Top 5 were surprised by some very special guests: a Mystery Box full of family. Josh’s wife, Cryssi’s sister, Jennifer’s boyfriend, Chanelle’s husband and Andre’s aunt was on-hand not just to cheer on their loved ones—which was what I expected—but to do the cooking instead. It was clear from the shocked looks the home cooks and guests weren’t prepared for the twist. Able to coach, cheer on and participate for a mere 18 of 60 minutes, the competitors could only look on as their beloved recreated a fried chicken dish with biscuits, gravy and coleslaw.

Josh opted to clock in almost right away, butchering the chicken and getting it marinating and prompting his wife to move faster. Jennifer jumped in next, working on the biscuits for her sweetheart’s plate. Andre tended to his biscuits, leaving his aunt to prepare the chicken and coleslaw. Chanelle stayed out as long as she could but buzzed in to help her husband and make sure he was making good use of his time. With 30 minutes to go, Cryssi (according to the episode’s edit) still hadn’t clocked into her sister’s aid, a clear indication of their closeness and confidence in each other.

Cryssi and her sister’s platter looked the tastiest and won rave reviews from Chefs Michael, Claudio and Alvin, but it was Andre and his aunt who was awarded the win. It landed Andre a much-coveted boost in the Elimination Challenge, which had the Top 5 spinning a wheel to determine the tropical fruit at the centre of their next concoction. Andre had his pick of the wheel and chose to make a savoury dish with passionfruit. Cryssi spun and landed on a sweet sugar apple recipe, Josh savoury tamarind, Chanelle sweet using soursop, and Jennifer a savoury coconut.

A group of people cheering.Andre was the only one that didn’t have trouble with their main ingredient—the sugar apple was full of seeds and Chanelle had no clue what soursop was—though Jennifer had a great game plan, opting to use coconut as the base of a seafood curry.

At the tasting, Andre’s passionfruit glazed scallop fritter was enjoyed by Alvin and Michael, Chanelle’s soursop filled crepes weren’t very flavourful, Jennifer’s curry en papillote was overcooked, Cryssi’s sugar apple tart was “Wow,” and Josh’s tamarind beef tostadas were disappointing because he failed to cut the meat all the way through and his tostadas weren’t hand made. The top home cook was Andre, and Chanelle, sadly, was shown the door.

In the second episode, the Top 4 travelled to Peterborough, Ont., to visit the Canadian Canoe Museum for an Indigenous ingredient-themed Team Challenge. There, they were greeted by Chefs Alvin, Michael and Claudio alongside Anishinaabe chef Johl Whiteduck Ringuette of NishDish in Toronto. The task? To create a three-course tasting menu utilizing one of the Three Sisters—corn, squash and beans—for First Nations guests. Chef Johl also came with a gift: white corn.

Andre, who was tops in the Elimination Challenge picked both teams. Andre picked Jennifer to be on his Red Team and facing Josh and Cryssi on the Blue Team.

Two men cook food on a stove top.Jennifer and Andre opted for pemmican inspired bison steaks with corn, partridge with sour cherries and beans, and squash cake while Cryssi and Josh chose to make corn chowder with corn fritters, venison with warm butter basted bean salad, and bannock and squash pudding.

When it came to the best dishes of the night, the Red Team triumphed, whisking Jennifer and Andre into the Top 3 and leaving Josh and Cryssi to fight in the Pressure Test. They were given 70 minutes to replicate a tempered chocolate sphere containing a pistachio sponge cake and bruléed figs.

Josh, who admits baking isn’t his strong suit, was in tough against baking pro Cryssi. And yet, he was the first to land his chocolate sphere in the fridge while she struggled to get hers to work. In order to make it work, Cryssi ditched the mould for a balloon. Incredibly, they both completed the task, though Josh’s creation looked a little better and nailed the replication aspect.

Cryssi’s flavours were dead-on, but would they trump Josh’s dead-on replication? No, and Josh moved into the Top 3.

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

Images courtesy of Bell Media.Facebooktwitterredditlinkedinmail

MasterChef Canada: History is made during Restaurant Takeover

It may have been a holiday in the rest of the country, but MasterChef Canada didn’t take the day off.

In the biggest test of the season—of every season, really, aside from the finale—the home cooks participated in the daunting Restaurant Takeover, as they served guests at Chef Michael Bonacini’s Leña Restaurante. Rozin, who earned his way back into the competition, joined the Top 5 as they prepared two appetizers and two main dishes for a select group of lunch diners, media and Bell Media guests. (Make no mistake, these folks weren’t paying customers and Chef Michael’s cred was not on the line. That doesn’t take away from the rigours of the test, I just want you to know.)

Cryssi and Josh, who hadn’t been team captains yet, were handed the blue and red aprons and picked their teammates. Josh chose Jennifer and Chanelle to be on Team Red, while Cryssi opted for Rozin and Andre. Andre (and I) was shocked he was picked last, especially because of his experiences with spice, something I assumed would come into play in a restaurant featuring South American flavours. The cool thing that struck me about this Restaurant Takeover—and it may have happened before—was the home cooks were making actual items from Leña’s menu. The broken avocado salad, clams and chorizo, Atlantic salmon and roasted lamb sirloin are available to order or have been, which made the challenge have real stakes. Cryssi, who grew up in a Portuguese household, was excited at the chance to make the plates. Josh was struggling to keep up.

A man and a woman stand in a kitchen.On the Red Team, Josh tackled the clams and Chanelle took on the salad with Jennifer helping where needed. Cryssi, meanwhile, handled the seafood for the Red Team, with Andre doing the salad and Rozin aiding when called upon. The small kitchen and constant orders coming in soon caused the expected trouble for both squads. In particular, the clams were being stubborn, causing Cryssi to sweat; I could feel the frustration and dismay in her voice. And Chef Michael made it known he wasn’t pleased either. The judges gave the plates a try and deemed it pretty much a draw.

Next up were the mains. Josh chose to prepare the lamb, Jennifer the salmon and Chanelle roving. Cryssi picked the salmon, Rozin on the lamb and Andre plating. The Red Team stumbled at first, with rare lamb and salmon slowing them down and Josh neglecting his duties as team captain. It was chaos. Things weren’t any better on the blue side, as lamb orders piled up and Rozin floundered in the weeds. Chef Michael had this to say when he was told it would be eight minutes until the lamb was ready.

“Eight minutes?! You’re killing me!” And perhaps blue’s chances at a win, especially when Michael called chef de cuisine Julie Marteleira in to help them. With one Red Team table waiting 90 minutes for their food, they weren’t vying for the win either, so Chef Michael got his hands dirty with them. All three judges agreed, upon tasting, that the entrees weren’t up to par.

Three men stand at a table, tasting food.The result? Neither team was safe and all six home cooks were headed to the Pressure Test, prepping breakfast for Alvin, Michael and Claudio. But before that, Cryssi and Josh were given the opportunity to save an MVP from their squad. Andre and Jennifer were picked and headed up to the gallery.

Three different breakfasts—full English for Michael, congee for Alvin and bizcocho for Claudio—just 65 minutes and a replication challenge seemed impossible for Rozin, Cryssi, Chanelle and Josh. I would have sat down on the floor and cried. The home cooks soldiered on and were in pretty good spirits. Rozin could only smile as he uncovered his blood sausage and discovered it had burst into a grey paté, and Josh’s congee turned into a soupy mess.

Chef Michael tasted the bizcocho first, enjoying Cryssi’s, marking Josh’s as dry, Rozin’s dry and overcooked, and Chanelle’s just wrong. Chef Alvin was up next tasting the congee, deeming Cryssi’s spot-on, Josh’s thin and bland, Rozin’s good but unbalanced, and Chanelle’s a good effort. Finally, it was time for Chef Michael’s English breakfast. Cryssi’s was tasty but her eggs were undone, Josh’s well executed, Rozin’s well done, and Chanelle’s eggs a little overdone.

With many little mistakes made, it was going to be a tough call but the judges made it: Cryssi was tops and Rozin was cut from the competition for a second time.

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

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