And then there were two. We’ve reached the finale where Eric Chong, the chemical engineer from Oakville, faces off against Marida Mohammed, a personal trainer from Toronto, with one final meal. Before we get to the cooking, we get to see all the eliminated contestants, the families of the final two and get a look back at how far the home cooks had come.
The final challenge is to cook and present a meal – appetizer, main and dessert. There are no restrictions on ingredients or theme, the cooks get to make whatever they think most represents them and will impress the judges. Starting with the appetizers, it looks like both cooks are planning to make use of traditional ingredients and dishes from their heritage. Marida keeps a cool head, moving slowly and steadily. Even Eric seems fairly calm, his movements not nearly as frenetic as usual.
The appetizers are cooked without incident and Marida is the first to present her dish – pumpkin callaloo soup with crispy pig tail and coconut creme fraiche. The judges are all compliments. The soup is praised for its creaminess and gentle heat, along with the perfect garnishes. Not a single criticism is given. Next Eric presents his pork belly and dumplings. The judges are also very complementary of him, praising the tender pork belly, until we get to Chef Aprile. Claudio’s piece of pork was dry and he tells Eric that piece should have been trimmed off since it wasn’t as fatty as the rest. Marida clearly wins round one.
Next is the mains. Eric seems to want to redeem himself by cooking lobster, along with homemade egg noodles. He does makes some good noodles. Despite some concern during the cooking about Eric overcooking his lobster, it turns out perfectly. Chef Leung tells Eric that his dish successfully combined East and West. For her main, Marida made a black cod with pigeon pea puree, mango and cucumber. The judges like this very much as well, though Chef Bonacini wishes there were more fish on the plate. It seems like Eric takes this round.
Finally we get to desserts. We get to see Eric double-fisting containers of liquid nitrogen to make two flavours of ice cream. Maybe chemistry comes in handy sometimes. Marida presents her rendition of a refined apple crumble with coconut dust, coconut ice cream and a warm rum caramel sauce. The plate is beautiful and the elements all go together well. The one complaint the judges have is that she didn’t take the skin off the apples (really Marida?) Eric does his take on an Asian banana split – tempura bananas, red bean and green tea ice cream, and chocolate shavings. The judges are pleased with his dish as well, though Chef Bonacini wishes there were some fresh fruit on the plate to cut the richness. It looks like the dessert round could be a tie, though the complaint about Marida leaving the skin on her apples seems a bit more serious.
The judges deliberate one last time. The time remaining in the episode ticks down – it’s 8:55pm and we go to another commercial break. I hate when reality shows do this – use up all their time then announce a winner, shove a trophy in their hand and go to credits without any time for celebration, retrospective or explanation of why they won. Looks like this is going to happen on MasterChef Canada. The winner is announced – it’s Eric! He wins the title, the trophy and the cash. We don’t get to learn what gave him the edge over Marida, but we do get to see lots of confetti. That’s it, it’s over. Congratulations to Eric for winning, and Marida for putting in a heck of a good showing.
Looks like season two of MasterChef Canada has already begun the casting process, so we’ve got a lot more home cooking to look forward to.