Surprising MasterChef Canada contestants before their finale
Back in October, I was in Toronto shooting the first season of my Canadian cooking show, “Four Senses,” when I received a message on Facebook from Sandee Birdsong, the almighty culinary producer behind all the main competitive culinary shows you see on American television, including MasterChef U.S., Top Chef, and now MasterChef Canada.
“You’re in Toronto?? I’m here doing MC Canada, and we’re about to tape our finale. Can you come visit the set and give a pep talk to the finalists?” Sandee had said.
October 25th just happened to be a dark day for “Four Senses” (“dark” meaning a day or days that are non-filming), so after I wrapped up some media in the morning, the hubs and I were picked up in a nondescript van to be whisked away to the set. Oh, how those econovans remind me of my own MasterChef days—we’d started out with at least a dozen vans, and the closer we got to the end, the less contestants left standing, and thus, the less vans roaming the streets of L.A.
The hubs and I were driven to the outskirts of Toronto where the landscape (so I’m told) turned from skyscrapers to warehouses. Typical production sets, I thought.
It was great to see Sandee and her right-hand man, Brad, both of whom I’d known from my very first day at MasterChef U.S. season 3. Sandee ushered me first to the holding room for the two finalists, Eric Chong and Marida Mohammed. They were both in their chef whites, probably crapping their chef pants, and going over their menu and execution steps in their heads. I remember being in that position all too well.
Eric and Marida’s reactions to meeting me were so cute. I was surprised they knew who I was; I didn’t expect Canada to know me (but I hope to change that with “Four Senses.”
Afterwards, I met the judges, Michael Bonacini, Claudio Aprile, and Alvin Leung. Again, I was touched by their enthusiasm, especially when Chef Aprile said he’d been emotionally invested in my season. Later on, in the green room, I was listening to the judges’ audio before rolling, and I could hear them discussing how inspiring I was and how nice it was to get a surprise drop-in from me. I chuckled at how the off-camera conversations of the MasterChef Canada’” judges were so positive and pleasant compared to the kind I had with Gordon, Graham, and Joe when I’d returned for a guest appearance on season 4. Let’s just say Gordon, Graham, and Joe are vulgar yet hilarious, and I dare not repeat the things they’d said here for the sake of my PG-rated blog.
Lastly, I entered the MasterChef set, which the art team had just remodeled into the showdown-style kitchen similar to that of MasterChef U.S.’S. (Ours was circular while theirs was square—“Budget constraints,” Sandee had reasoned.) Up in the gallery, just like during our finale, the previously eliminated contestants stood, waiting for the cue that film was rolling. Again, I received the warmest of welcomes, and they even brought me to tears. Just a little. In spite of what you’ve all seen on MasterChef season 3, I’m really not a frequent crier!
The MasterChef Canada finale aired Monday night, so the embargo on the footage my hubs had recorded that day has finally been lifted. We’ve made this into the second Blind Life YouTube episode and hope you enjoy the behind-the-scenes snippets of a MasterChef production.
Did you watch MasterChef Canada? Who was your favorite? What did you think of the finale?
To Eric, Marida, and all the other MC Canada contestants, what I said is true: your life is what you make of it. That’s what I’ve learned from losing my mom at an early age, from being diagnosed with Neuromyelitis Optica and losing my vision, from my time on MasterChef U.S. I wish all of you the best of luck. Don’t be afraid to dream big. xoxo