In the words of Edmonton contestant Terry Adido, “you are only as good as your last dish” when you’re playing for keeps on MasterChef Canada.
The fourth episode of the popular cooking show aired Sunday, March 13 where the Top 13 home cooks — including two Albertans — faced their first team challenge.
Contestants were divided into two teams (red and blue) and tasked with cooking their version of baby back ribs for 121 firefighters. Each team had two-and-a-half hours to grill and season their ribs and create a delicious sauce in addition to cooking two sides. At the end of the meal, the firefighters were instructed to vote on which team’s lunch they enjoyed the most.
Alberta contestants April Lee Baker and Terry were selected to be part of the blue team who decided to cook hickory-smoked ribs in a tangy tomato barbecue sauce with a vegetable medley and cornbread hash.
“I really do enjoy working as a team,” said April Lee. “When you’re faced with cooking for 121 people, it takes a team to accomplish that.”
On the other hand, Terry found working in a group to be a little bit nerve-wracking.
“I cook alone,” said Terry. “That was the first time I really had to cook with somebody or a group of people I didn’t quite know and it can be challenging when every home cook brings a different style of cooking and different levels to the kitchen.”
The team challenge didn’t come without its difficulties.
Early into their preparation, the blue team realized they didn’t have enough peppers to execute their original plan of plating stuffed peppers for one of the sides. The team quickly regrouped and decided to pursue a cornbread hash instead of the peppers. Later in the episode, the blue team faced another major hurdle when opening the smoker and discovering some of their ribs had been burnt.
“When we looked at the grill and saw they we were burnt, we were heartbroken,” said April Lee. “It was looking rough.”
The team was able to salvage the ribs by scraping off a majority of the burnt sections and successfully delivered all of their plates to the firefighters.
At the end of the episode it was revealed that the blue team’s dish had been preferred over the red team’s dish — ribs in a Chinese Five Spices Rub and whiskey bbq sauce with sautéed vegetables and jalapeno cornbread.
Members of the blue team began jumping with joy and sighing with relief as they were declared winners of the challenge and officially part of the Top 12.
“I remember that moment well and I will remember it for my entire life,” said April Lee. “We were so proud of ourselves as a team. It was such a special moment.”
“When I saw that we had won, I blanked out,” laughed Terry. “Throughout the challenge it was hard to tell who had the upper hand. To win that was quite motivating because at first the other team thought we were the underdogs but we proved a point that it was about passion and having respect for each other home cook and what they bring to the table.”
Because the blue team won the challenge, they were saved from the second part of the show — cooking in the dreaded pressure test that ends with one contestant being sent home.
This week’s pressure test challenged members of the red team to make a dozen cupcakes incorporating three different flavours. At the end of the show, Vince Spitale from Toronto, Ont. was sent home.
“I gained a new respect for the other home cooks who I worked with in that challenge,” said Terry. “And a strong home cook went home that day so it’s a constant reminder that you’re only as good as your last dish.”
Both Terry and April Lee look forward to watching the next episode airing on Sunday, March 20 where contestants will face another mystery box challenge and Terry tells us, it’s going to be something viewers have never seen before!