Tag Archives: Masterchef Canada

Review: MasterChef Canada cooks up its first twist

Unlike some reality cooking shows that spend weeks on naming the Top 25, MasterChef Canada wrapped things up quickly within the first half-hour of Sunday’s new episode and then got rolling on the first Stress Test challenge of the season.

It was a doozy. In a nice twist in the game, judges Alvin, Claudio and Michael told the group of 25 there were only 16 cooking stations available. After a few moments where the nine not awarded a station were sure they were packing up and going home, it was revealed their plates so impressed the judges during auditions that they didn’t need to cook this week.

Did I chuckle to myself when Michael, the villain of the season, had to cook? Absolutely. Did I know the producers made that call so that myself and other viewers would react that way? For sure. Did I know that Michael would get through anyway? That would be an affirmative. The show needs a bad guy, and Michael is it. I also knew that former CFLer Jon would advance; there was simply too much time spent on his backstory for him to be eliminated in Week 2. Well, that and the fact I think the judges were scared he’d tackle them if he was eliminated.

There were also hints as to who would be cut by the end of the night. Inder’s elimination was assured when Michael reminded him the Stress Test had to involve red and white ingredients and the home cook didn’t add any.

The favourite of the week award went to Line, a 45-year-old computer specialist from Moncton. Her story? After joining the military because her family was too poor to pay for her education, she spent 17 years in service until a knee injury caused her to leave. A life of being told she couldn’t succeed, she did just that, wowing the judges with her audition plate of venison and lobster velouté during the Stress Test. She’s definitely one to watch this season.

Notes and quotes

  • I’m glad the wooden packing crate motif is no more now that we’re into the kitchen.
  • “You know that clock there? That clock is your life.” Well spoken, Jon. It’s as if he’s a former professional athlete who learned the gift of the sound bite.
  • Alvin cracks me up every time he yells “NOW!” It looks like he scares himself when he bellows it.
  • Does Line have a chip on her shoulder or is she just tough and feisty?
  • Why did Robert wear ribbons all over his shirt? Was that ever explained?
  • Michael’s steak looked well done, not medium. There was no juice.

MasterChef Canada airs Sundays at 7 p.m. ET/PT on CTV.


MasterChef Canada raises the bar in Season 2

Michael Bonacini is one of those guys who walks out of a movie sequel and shrugs his shoulders, less than impressed. That didn’t happen at the end of filming Season 2 of MasterChef Canada.

“At the end of Season 2, we all felt that this was an incredible showcase of culinary talent and creativity,” he says. The “we” he’s referring to is, of course, his fellow MasterChef Canada judging partners in crime, Claudio Aprile and Alvin Leung, who return this Sunday night after the Super Bowl wraps up on CTV. (In a late play by the network, MasterChef was called up early to replace Spun Out, which was benched after Dave Foley’s co-star, J.P. Manoux, was charged with voyeurism earlier this week.)

“The three of us would be watching in amazement at what was happening in front of us,” Aprile recalls during filming late last year. “We would say to ourselves, ‘Are the viewers going to believe this?!’ The talent is just phenomenal.”

That talent is showcased early on in Sunday’s return which begins the task of cutting the Top 50 down to a more manageable Top 16 on the way to awarding one home chef the title and $100,000. Sabrina, a 26-year-old office manager from Montreal, skipped her sister’s destination wedding to offer the judges her mushroom ravioli; former CFL Grey Cup champion John grills up a thick steak in a bid to garner a white apron; and 28-year-old Kristal jetted from Gander, Nfld., to deliver her stuffed pork tenderloin to the trio. It doesn’t take long for a few notable finalists to gain attention either. Michael could easily be the villain of Season 2 thanks to his overconfident, cocky attitude while Tammy, a 41-year-old mother of six might be the darling because of her inspiring story of loss and rebirth.

A common theme through Sunday’s instalment are competitors literally putting their lives on hold to compete on MasterChef Canada. Auditioners who quit jobs, held off on advancing their schooling and tales of dreams unfulfilled not only inspired but freaked me out. Quitting a job on the off-chance you might win? That’s bold. And it won’t be easy. Bonacini promises this go-round of episodes boasts tougher, challenges both in-studio and off-site.

“The off-site challenges are huge, outside the degree of difficulty,” he hints. “There are new, creative, big challenges. We had to continue to raise the bar and we did that.”

After all, it is a sequel and it can’t be boring.

MasterChef Canada airs Sunday night immediately following the Super Bowl on CTV. The series resumes its regular Sunday timeslot at 7 p.m. ET beginning Feb. 8.


MasterChef Canada rings in the holidays

The holiday season is usually spent with family, with gifts being exchanged and a table laden with goodies at the offering in the background. For four former MasterChef Canada contestants, this holiday season featured a return to the kitchen for the franchise’s first-ever MasterChef Canada: A Holiday Special, airing tonight on CTV.

Dora Cote, Pino DiCerbo, Tammara Behl and Season 1 runner-up Marida Mohammed are all back in the kitchen in front of judges Michael Bonacini, Claudio Aprile and Alvin Leung, but this time there’s a twist. Instead of competing as individuals, the fan favourites are helped with members of their own families. And while this is still a culinary competition things aren’t as cutthroat as what viewers saw earlier this year.

“It is a holiday special,” Aprile says. “It’s not a blood sport by any stretch of the imagination. It’s really designed to bring people closer together for the holiday time. It wouldn’t be appropriate if they were going for the jugular.”

master_chef1“The competitive spirit is an amazing thing,” Bonacini counters. “Someone may not say they’re a sore loser, but the competitive edge does come out throughout the group.” Everyone wants to come out on top, and with good reason: the winning family nabs $10,000 to donate to their favourite charity. That alone gets the adrenaline running for the competitors and their squad. Fans of MasterChef Canada will get a kick out of seeing Pino, Marida, Tammara and Dora surrounded by the people who have loved, supported and inspired them to compete in Season 1.

“In some instances we were really able to see where the seeds were planted,” Aprile explains. “It was fascinating to see Pino and his mom … they are really going to embody this need for family. They are close and they work incredibly well together. They finish each other’s sentences. She has incredible skill and you see that in the way that she rolls pasta.”

As for the tests themselves, all are based on the holidays. The four teams are challenged to recreate their picks for key plates to be served during the Christmas season, with a skills competition thrown in for good measure. A cool test utilizing a MasterChef Canada version of “The Twelve Days of Christmas” and a choir serves as a jumping off point to the spectacle. And while the tests were tough, none of them involved making the most controversial food of the festive season.

“Fruitcake was not one of the challenges,” Bonacini admits with a laugh. “But I am going to put that in the hopper for, hopefully, next year.”

MasterChef Canada: A Holiday Special airs Monday at 8 p.m. ET/PT on CTV.


CTV celebrates the season with MasterChef Canada holiday special


From a media release:

The holidays are set to take over the MASTERCHEF CANADA kitchen in MASTERCHEF CANADA: A HOLIDAY SPECIAL (@MasterChefCDA), premiering Monday, Dec. 15 at 8 p.m. ET/PT on CTV, and also available live and on demand on CTV.ca and CTV GO. Debuting as part of CTV’s holiday lineup, the two-hour special welcomes four Season 1 home cooks back to the MASTERCHEF CANADA kitchen where they cook up a series of festive dishes with their families – serving up holiday favourites inspired by their diverse traditions and cultures.Featuring acclaimed judges Michael Bonacini, Alvin Leung, and Claudio Aprile, the special is a first for the format internationally and was created in collaboration with Proper Television and Shine International. MASTERCHEF CANADA: A HOLIDAY SPECIAL is acomplementary spinoff of MASTERCHEF CANADA, which returns to CTV with its highly-anticipated second season in Winter 2015.

MASTERCHEF CANADA: A HOLIDAY SPECIAL features four Season 1 home cooks: fun-loving Albertan Dora Cote; spicy Trinidadian twin and runner-up Marida Mohammed; loveable Italian dad Pino DiCerbo; and larger-than-life flavour queen Tammara Behl – who are all joined by their families for the chance to win $10,000 for the charity of their choice. MASTERCHEF CANADA: A HOLIDAY SPECIAL will also air on Thursday, Dec. 25 at 8 p.m. ET on M3, as part of a monster three-day MASTERCHEF marathon beginning Wednesday, Dec. 24 that will include complete airings of the most recent seasons of MASTERCHEF and MASTERCHEF JUNIOR.

MASTERCHEF CANADA: A HOLIDAY SPECIAL features the returning home cooks and their families as they participate in a Mystery Box Potluck Challenge, a Seasonal Skills Race, a Tag-Team Bake-Off, and a final Festive Feast, where the final two families go head-to-head with an elevated version of their favourite holiday meal.


MasterChef Canada winner and judge to open restaurant

From Tony Wong:

First celebrity chef Susur Lee opened Luckee in the Soho Metropolitan Hotel over the summer. Now MasterChef Canada judge and Michelin-starred chef Alvin Leung is teaming up with the show’s Season 1 winner, Eric Chong, to start an Asian restaurant.

“I’m very excited about this. It will be Eric’s food and my food together. It will be Asian and Chinese inspired,” Leung told the Star. Continue reading.