Saturday 8 February 2014

MasterChef Canada update: What Happened

Hello everyone!

Sorry it has taken me so long to get around to posting this. It is RRSP season here in Canada ("tax season") and being a man of finance that has meant me being very busy at work. I've also been trying to get back in shape and been eating lots of raw vegetables, quinoa and the like (not the most exciting material). Will have more stuff on the blog soon, I promise.

I know a lot of you have been patiently anticipating the results of my MasterChef Canada experience. It is with a heavy heart that I confess I did not get an apron. How it works, is the 50 of us have an hour to prepare a signature dish and then five minutes in front of the three judges to complete it. The judges (Michael Bonacini, Alvin Leung & Claudio Aprile) taste our dishes, provide feedback and then each provide a 'yes' or 'no' verdict. A contestant needs at least 2 yesses to win an apron and continue on in the competition. One or no yesses results in the contestant being eliminated and sent home. 

I only got one yes. :(

To add insult to injury, they didn't even show my audition on the show! There were only very few and brief glimpses of me in episode one and none of me at all in episode 2. I cannot put the disappointment into words. Don't get me wrong, it is a fierce competition and the judges are very tough. Since it is a TV show ultimately intended for entertainment, they made some contestants who didn't make it look pretty bad. Luckily, in not being featured I was not made to look a fool. So I suppose it could be worse. Never the less, I am thrilled to have had the experience.

As I mentioned in a previous post, I made a beef tagine with sweetened sticky prunes, couscous and fried almond slivers. I garnished the dish with pomegranate, fresh cilantro and fresh parsley. For a very brief moment they showed a shot of my dish in episode 1 in a montage.

This was filmed last September (September 16th, to be precise) so I have had a lot of time to dissect what I did wrong and well. The plating was a little sloppy (for MasterChef standards). I had the best of intentions at the time but I see that now. There was too much couscous on the plate. On top of that, it was too dry! I have made couscous so many times before and the one time I messed it up just had to be on this dish. We were using all new equipment. The kettles we were using on set we different from the one I had at home. I thought I had it turned on when it wasn't. With only minutes left in my hour my water wasn't boiling yet. I figured out what was wrong then poured a bunch of water out so that it would boil faster. I ended up pouring out a little more than I needed so I didn't have quite enough of it to hydrate my couscous, resulting in it being a little dry and clumpy.

It was such a shame because I practiced that dish so many times before preparing it on set. It wasn't a complete disaster though. Each judge basically said there were pros and cons but I didn't meet the standards (and I agree) so it cost me my apron. 

Michael was the first one to try my dish. Before trying it he could tell just by the look of it that the couscous was dry. Aside from that, he said that the flavours were overall really good. Alvin Leung didn't say much about my dish while he was trying it but seemed impressed that I was self-taught while they were asking me questions during my five minutes in front of them. Alvin is one of two people in the whole world who is a self taught chef and has a Michelin star. Claudio, for me, was the really tough one. He was very unimpressed with the plating and implied that it belonged in "an all-you-can-eat buffet". Harsh! lol. 

When it came down to the verdict, Claudio was first. He said, "I appreciate the overall concept of the dish, but I don't think you pulled it off. It reminds me of what you would expect at a truck stop so I'm going to say no." I then told him, "I understand". Alvin was next and he mentioned the sloppiness of the plating and that for his taste the tagine was overseasoned, but "I see something in you... so I'm going to give you a yes." Then it came down to Michael. There was a moment or two of awkward silence and took that as my cue to make a plea and fight for myself. I said something like, "Today was a bad day but I can do so much better. I want this so bad. If you let me through I can show you. You can be extra tough on me. I know I can do this. I'm ready." Then Michael spoke up, "Bram, there were hits and misses with your dish. I want you to keep cooking - and come back next year." 

I was pretty close! I looked up at them and said, "Okay. Thank you very much for the opportunity, I really appreciate it" and I got out of there. I had a brief exit interview on camera where I remained very positive and optimistic. I said that I would be a robot if I said I wasn't disappointed but they told me to keep at it and return for season 2 so that is what I intend to do. Then they sent me home.

I wasn't lying when I said that I really wanted it. It was so disappointing to be sent home so early in the competition. It was even more disappointing to not be featured on the show so no one else could hear all of my positive feedback. Oh well, that's show business for you.

I wish everyone remaining in the competition the best of luck and I'm proud of all of them. 

A big thank you to everyone who follows and reads this blog. I do all of this for you guys (MasterChef Canada included). Just because they told me to come back for next season doesn't guarantee me a spot. Thousands of people auditioned to be part of this thing. The fact that I made it to the top 50 home cooks in all of Canada (and wasn't even the worst out of that 50) says a lot. I didn't make it as far as I wanted to but I did do well and I'm proud of myself.

Stay tuned for more great blog posts and a sincere thanks again for being part of my journey!

If you have any questions about the experience, post them in the comments below and I will do my best to respond.


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