Tag Archives: Tessa Virtue

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.

Images courtesy of Bell Media.


Ice, Sweat and Tears – A Filmmaker Interview


Photo of Aaron Hancox (Co-producer) and Judy Holm (Executive Producer) at the Canadian Screen Awards

(Photo by Derek Langer)

 Ice, Sweat and Tears, an hour-long figure skating documentary, is set to air on Thursday, March 7 on CBC’s Doc Zone. The film investigates the dedication, stamina and training that it takes to compete as a figure skater on the world stage, and serves as an introduction to the fiercely competitive and highly athletic world of figure skating.

Ice, Sweat and Tears takes a close look into the journeys of ice dance champions Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir, the young pairs team Paige Lawrence and Rudi Swiegers, and the well known men’s competitor Patrick Chan, among others, with insights from seasoned veterans who’ve retired from the competitive scene, Kurt Browning and Elvis Stojko.

Spouses, family, and fans of other sports often misunderstand the world of the figure skating “super fan” and misjudge the complex sport of figure skating. Where hockey is a team effort with easily definable points, figure skating is intense athleticism hiding demurely under carefully chosen costuming. It is a solo effort with a complicated scoring system, where one athlete spends time in the spotlight performing. Ice, Sweat and Tears opens up the world of the super fan, enlightening others as to why they may hold their breath for 4 minutes and 30 seconds until the artistic performance is completed. The film gets people to understand the relational and personal nature of figure skating, and serves as a great intro to the sport for those who may not quite “get it”.

I had a chance to talk to husband and wife filmmaking team Michael McNamara (not pictured) and Judy Holm about making Ice, Sweat and Tears.

RL: What got you interested in Figure Skating in the first place?

JH: I’m a big fan – I have been for a long long time.

MM: And I live with a big fan.

JH: I would call Michael in to watch specific things, since I came from a dance background; I get really excited and totally “get” it when they do something spectacular.

RL: What was the most surprising thing you learned about skating through the course of the documentary?

MM: I really didn’t realize the level of athleticism that was involved – the speed and stamina that is required of these athletes.  As soon as I realized this, that became the goal, to get the viewers a little closer to the action. When you’re watching on TV you can’t tell how fast these kids are moving.

JH: I don’t think that I really really really understood the depth of the danger that accompanies this sport.

MM: We were able to strap cameras to their arms, chests and skates to give their point of view. A whole different perspective.

RL: How would you say that Canada’s teams and program differ from other world teams.

JH: Canada has always been up there in the top competitors ever since we started. There’s always been a Canadian skater from one or two of the disciplines [singles, pairs, ice dancers] at the top. The interesting thing that is happening lately is the expansion of the disciplines that we’re at the top in.

When Tessa and Scott won at the Olympics it was the first time a North American team had won ice dance – it’s been a category dominated primarily by the Russian teams. It’s a bit more global now as they’re trained by a former soviet star: less political blocks and more global.

RL: What sort of sense did you get from the “retired” skaters?

JH: Kurt Browning and Elvis Stojko are two guys who were fascinated by athleticism and speed. They were just guys out there. Kurt continues to skate with his shows. Elvis is an adrenaline junkie doing go-cart racing.

Competitively skating is a sport that has a limited life span. You’re not doing it by your mid 30s; amateur competition even more so. I’m sure there are all kinds of stories, good, bad, and in the middle. When you’re a champion, that  continues to be a part of you even after you’re done.

RL: What was the biggest challenge in making this documentary?

JH: Remembering to bring our long underwear.

MM: Even in the summer!

MM: I’d say maybe getting the skaters used to our presence. We wanted to be flies on the wall, to capture real honest responses. We were a small team, a small crew. They’re used to cameras but usually the scrutiny begins and ends at the competition. We had to gain their trust, and I think we did.

JH: It’s a fine balance between getting enough film, because they’re distracted and focused on their season. We worked a lot with Skate Canada and did a lot of planning with Barb McDonald to get everything we needed without taking away from the skaters’ focus.

RL: How do you feel this documentary will affect the Canadian public?

JH: I think they’re gonna love it!

Doc Zone and CBC have positioned it so it’s a lead-up to the Worlds. CBC has worked very well with Skate Canada.  We’ve got some preview clips to be shown at the lead-up events.

MM: People who are skating fans can be quite obsessive; they’re a different breed than other fans. When a skater is on the ice, they’re all alone. It’s a very different kind of sport than any other sport. It’s an enormous pressure. The super fans feel very invested in the athletes, like they have a relationship and it’s reciprocal. We hope the super fans will take something away from it, and for people who don’t know anything about it at all that it will make an impact.

JH: I want to convert [more fans]!

 RL: What is your next project, if you have one in the works?

 MM: We have a couple dramas in development at the moment as well as a BravoFACT project – Incident at Lesion Fields that we are co-directing starring Mary Walsh ,Tommy Lee Williams, and Janet Burker.

Thank you Mike and Judy for taking the time to talk to me about Ice, Sweat and Tears.

Ice, Sweat and Tears airs on CBC Television’s Doc Zone Thursday, March 7, 2013 at 9pm (9:30 NT) and repeats Saturday, March 9 at 11pm ET/PT on CBC News Network.