MasterChef Canada Recap: Burgers and Beer (and lots of Pork)

The latest episode of MasterChef Canada made me realize how much I hate team challenges. This episode was so much better than the previous weeks’. I’m sure the home cooks were also excited to be judged on their own merits again rather than how well they can work in a team.

First there is a Mystery Box challenge, which is always fun. What’s in the box? Meat-grinders! At the front of the kitchen is another huge mystery box, which is lifted to show all kinds of meat – duck, pork, ox, kangaroo, wild boar, bison, turkey and lamb (no beef, because that’s too easy I guess). The challenge is to make a burger and give it a creative name. Dora and Josh seem particularly excited about this challenge. I’m impressed with the cook’s choices and combinations of meat, it doesn’t look like too many people are trying to play it safe. If I were there I’d make a burger out of bison and duck – go rich. Since Mystery Box challenges only have winner, we get to see a lot of the people who are doing well. If anyone’s murdering their meat, we don’t see it.

We do, however, see Eric’s questionable knife techniques and a spray of blood on the floor as he cuts two of his fingers open. He can’t finish the challenge as he needs to get stitched up (noooo!)

So who made the best burgers? Dale is the first called up. He made a Kangaroo burger in a pouch (haha). He topped it with crisp green apples (soaked in a little cider vinegar so they’d retain their colour – clever). Josh has the next favourite burger, an Umami Bomb made of Boar and Bison, with foie gras, a duck egg and spicy mayo. Now this just seems like cheating. Foie gras and duck eggs? You could make anything rich and delicious by adding those things. Kaila is called up next, and she looks surprised and delighted. She made a pork and duck burger topped with warm mushroom salad. The judges also called up a 4th cook, which is unusual. It was Mike, with a lamb burger. After a bit of deliberation, the judges announce the winner of the Mystery Box challenge – Kaila! She looks surprised (this is a theme) and does a little jump for joy, which makes me like her more.

Kaila is taken into the pantry so she can decide what her competitors will be cooking with (she’s won immunity, of course). The theme for the challenge is beer, and we see a whole lot of advertising for Alexander Keith’s. The three options for the elimination challenge are maple syrup, apples and bacon. Kaila chooses apples as she thinks they will trip up some of her biggest competitors. I would have picked maple syrup, as I think the intense sweetness is harder to deal with (and I just don’t like it much). In addition, Kaila gets to pick two cooks who must create a dessert with the apples, while the rest can cook whatever they want. She chooses Josh, as they thinks he’s some of her biggest competition, and Eric because she thinks his lovely tart from the first episode was a fluke.

The challenge starts and it seems like half the kitchen goes the safe, mundane route. Pork. With apples. And Beer. How exciting. Yawn. Josh is upset that he needs to make a dessert and can’t partake in the pork party. He makes caramelized apple profiteroles, which is quite clever. Eric decides to make an apple pie, which is what I would do as well. I seem to share Eric’s line of thinking a lot. An hour is not a lot of time to make and bake a pie dough though. Carly seems to be losing it, and Julie is making the same thing she made for her audition which means trouble and an easy thing for the judges to pick on.

Danielle finally gets some camera time. She’s making pork like everyone else, but at least seems to be doing it well. As is Dora. The editors seem to have decided that Dale and Marida have received enough time on camera, as I have no idea what they’re making. Maybe it’s more pork!

We get to see the judges taste a number of dishes when the challenge is over. First up is Dora, who made pork chops, but I can forgive her since she also made corn bread. She added beer in pretty much every element of the dish and the judges are impressed. Next up is Pino with another pork chop, lentils and apple compote. Chef Aprile tells him it tastes like prison food. Ouch. It doesn’t look very good either. Josh brings up his profiteroles, and though the apples are slightly underdone, the judges compliment the balance of the dish. Eric also has a problem with his dish being underdone and his pastry is criticized for it. He did get complimented on the flavour of the dish and the consistency of the dough (which I find hard to reconcile, since it wasn’t cooked enough).  The judges like Danielle’s pork chop and the jus she made by deglazing the pan. Julie’s doughnuts get called dull. Danny presents a sweet and spicy pork with a creamy slaw. It looks kind of odd. Actually the presentation looks almost exactly the same as his chorizo audition plate. Aprile calls his dish the worst of the round, which seems to give away who’s going to be eliminated.

The judges leave to deliberate. The best dishes of the night go to Dora and Danielle. The judges love those pork chops. I’m happy they get their moment in the sun, though being named the leaders of the next team challenge seems like more of a punishment than a prize. Danny, Eric and Pino are called up with the three worst dishes. Unsurprisingly, Danny is eliminated.

There are now 12 home cooks left. Eric and Dale continue to be two of my favourites and I think they’ll go far. Kaila and Josh have risen up the ranks for me too though, and I look forward to seeing the next dishes they put out.

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