With two Albertans remaining in the competition, stakes were high during the third episode of MasterChef Canada, Season 3 (aired March 7) where the Top 14 contestants faced their first mystery box challenge.
In a mystery box challenge, all home cooks are supplied with the same ingredients and they must create a dish out some or all of the ingredients supplied.
This episode’s mystery box was filled with 13 iconic Canadian ingredients (one from each province and territory across the country) including Yukon wild boar, red and white wine from Ontario and maple syrup from Quebec to name a few.
Contestant April Lee Baker, the homemaker who runs a hobby farm just outside of Calgary, chose to make her mystery box dish with a side of provincial pride in selecting the Alberta ground beef to work with.
“There were so many beautiful things in the box,” says Baker. “But I really am an Albertan through and through and I wanted to pay homage to our province and to our beautiful beef.
Terry Adido, the PhD law student in Edmonton, chose to base his dish around the arctic char fish — an ingredient he had never used before.
“Fish is something I cook with a lot, but this was my first exposure to arctic char,” laughed Terry. “Because its appearance replicated salmon, I cooked it like I would with salmon. I’m glad it went over well.”
While neither April Lee nor Terry’s dish scored them a place in the top 3 dishes of the challenge, Terry was chosen to be saved from cooking again that night by fellow contestant Shawn Karls who won the mystery box challenge.
“I was happy about (being saved),” said Terry. “Each stage you excel through you are thankful because you are safe…all it takes is one bad dish and you could go home at any time.”
While Terry watched from the balcony, some of his fellow contestants battled it for the next challenge of the night that had them whipping up dishes of South American cuisine. Thankfully, April Lee’s dish was enough to keep her out of the bottom three and to see another day of the competition.
“I felt really comfortable cooking because I’m familiar with that type of cuisine,” said April Lee, who made her own ceviche, tortilla chips and salsa. “I was looking at my dish with a definite sense of pride.”
As for Terry, his spot in the balcony delivered a new sense of awareness about his fellow competitors.
“It gave me an opportunity to watch the other home cooks and see their strengths and weaknesses,” he said. “It really let me know where I stand in the competition and who I should watch out for.”
At the end of the episode, contestants and viewers said goodbye to David Young from New Brunswick who was eliminated from the show leaving 13 contestants left to battle it out for the $100,000 cash prize, along with the title of Canada’s next MasterChef.
Tune in for the next episode this Sunday, March 13 where the Top 13 face their first team challenge and get the chance to cook for a group of firefighters.
“I was/am excited for the group challenge,” says April Lee whose family includes a long list of firefighters. “It’s just an honour to cook for our men and women in the service who put their lives out there every day.”