Meet the MasterChef Canada Home Cooks
These aspiring celebrity chefs will demonstrate their passion for food while competing for the title of Canada's first-ever MasterChef.
Ben Minor - Stand-Up Comedian
Signature Dish: Cereal
Ben Miner is a 33-year-old stand-up comedian and satellite radio host from Ottawa – a gig he calls 'his dream job' – though being a hybrid Chef/MMA fighter is a close second. He started cooking as a pre-teen to help his grandmother, who Ben names as his primary cooking inspiration. In the kitchen, he is willing to cook anything except processed food! To put him in the cooking state of mind, Ben jams out to "Wouldn't It Be Nice" by the Beach Boys, "Novacane "by Frank Ocean, and "Sunny" by Bobby Hebb.
Ben is very confident in his cooking skills and loves a challenge – it's the reason he's pursuing the title of MasterChef Canada. Ben is close to his mother, and if he wins, plans to secure a retirement condo for her.
Brooke Feldman - Make-Up Artist
Signature Dish: Pan Seared Salmon with Potato Dill Latkas, horseradish, pickled fennel salad
Brooke is a 32-year-old makeup artist and entrepreneur, as well as an independent consultant for a health and wellness company. Brooke loves kids, and is the "auntie" to many of her friend's children. She started cooking at the age of 4 while helping her grandmother on a step-stool in front of the stove. Her favourite things to cook are casual Caribbean dishes like oxtail, and anything she hasn't cooked before. Dessert isn't her favourite course to tackle, though she confronted it head-on as a challenge while preparing to be on the series and found that she enjoys baking.
Winning MasterChef Canada might give Brooke the chance to achieve her dreams of a career in the culinary arts – including her own restaurant and cooking show! She would also like to "eat (her) way around the world ... literally!" A friend and fellow home cook encouraged Brooke to audition for the show, but it was only when she was actually in the room in front of the judges that she realized these dreams could be a reality.
Carly Tennant - Clothing retail store owner
Signature Dish: Turkey Meatballs with Parsnip Puree and Crispy Kale
Carly is a clothing store owner from Langley, B.C. A self-proclaimed fashion nut, she is continually adding to her collection of bomber jackets, and lists 'dressing people' as one of her favourite things to do. When it comes to relationships, Carly is "single and ready to mingle," and heralds cooking as her first passion – which she's been doing since she was 10. Although Carly's friends are her main inspiration, it was her mom that she helped out around the kitchen as a child, and remains the biggest reason for her love of cooking. You can hear Iron Maiden blasting in Carly’s kitchen while she prepares canapes and hors d'oeuvres. Carly prefers to stay away from offal ingredients, especially intestine.
Carly loves MasterChef and has always wanted to be on television. Taking the grand prize on MasterChef Canada would mean she could realize her goal of opening a new restaurant in her hometown. Her dream job would be to run a bed-and-breakfast that treats guests to an amazing holistic experience – everything from educating them about their host city to taking them on tours and bike rides.
Dale Kuda - Household Manager
Signature Dish: Butter Seared Pickerel with fennel citrus salad and orange reduction
Dale is a self-employed housekeeper from Toronto. Originally hailing from Perry, Missouri, Dale was raised on a self-sufficient farm, milking cows and picking vegetables from his parents' garden. He grew up cooking with his mother and grandmother, becoming serious about it at age 21. Since getting married, Dale's cooking inspiration has become his husband, who encourages Dale to experiment with different ingredients in the kitchen.
Dale sees being on MasterChef Canada as an amazing life experience. Winning the title of MasterChef Canada would allow him to open a catering company focused on helping others fall in love with food, just as he has. His dream gig would be to one day host his own television show about how to entertain friends at home with spectacular food! Dale loves Canada and is proud of all of the freedoms and luxuries that are found here.
Danielle Cardozo - Employment Development Officer
Signature Dish: Miso Glazed Trout with Ponzu Mushrooms in Citrus Miso broth
Danielle is an Employment Development Officer and mother of three from Cranbrook, BC. Danielle's entire family inspires her cooking – including her father who owns a pizzeria – but her big sister Amy got her started when she was 8 years old and she taught Danielle how to boil an egg. Part Cree, Jamaican and Portuguese, Danielle aims to bring the same depth of variety in flavours to her cooking. She loves working with fish, but doesn’t have much of an interest in working with organs like kidney or liver.
Danielle's in a MasterChef Canada apron for one of her daughters – the pair are avid watchers of the U.S. series. Winning MasterChef Canada will mean a brand new life for Danielle; she would pay off her student loans, and then kick-start her plan to open an experiential fresh-food restaurant where patrons can learn about the food they order. Danielle firmly believes that everyone should have the courage to ask for help.
Danny Raposo - Construction worker
Signature Dish: Chorizo on Rice with Beer Mustard Sauce
Danny Raposo is a construction worker from Brampton, Ont. He started cooking when his two children were born, and cites his father as his main inspiration. Danny blasts 'The Real' DJ Danny D and house music while he cooks, and considers himself a great singer and dancer.
The title of MasterChef Canada would mean one thing for Danny – cooking. He just plain loves it and calls it his dream job. He's already started writing his own cookbook with recipes true to his Portuguese heritage and dreams of opening a restaurant chain called "Big D's House of Munch" across Canada. Despite his rough exterior, Danny is a self-proclaimed nice guy ready to lend a hand to charitable causes.
Dora Cote - Plumber
Signature Dish: Deconstructed Blueberry Pudding Cake with Caramel sauce
Dora is a plumber hailing from Rocky Mountain House, Alta. She lives with her boyfriend, his son Kayl, and her own son Devyn. She remembers baking with her father at age 6, and cites survival as her reason for cooking. A woman of diverse interests and experiences, Dora worked with a traveling carnival for five years, maintains a skull collection, and has a secret passion for crocheting and designing clothes. Her signature dish is oven-baked ribs, with apple pie for dessert.
Dora's inspirations in the kitchen include her family, "MasterChef" judge Gordon Ramsay, her Purity Cookbook, and Google – in that order. A self-professed "superfan" of MasterChef, Dora is vying for the MasterChef Canada title in the hopes of opening her own diner – a modest eatery focused on simply making people happy – and buying her first house.
Eric Chong - Chemical Engineer
Signature Dish: Pan seared Duck breast with rice, red thai curry sauce, homemade spring rolls and plum sauce
A self-proclaimed ninja, Eric already has a lot under his belt; he's a chemical engineer, a graduate of McMaster University, and a cook of 15 years. At 6 years old, he began with simple tasks in the kitchen and worked his way up, following in the footsteps of his grandfather who is the head chef at a Chinese restaurant. Determined to prove himself, Eric loves cooking foods with a 'wow factor.' Some dishes in his repertoire include a vegetarian mushroom risotto, and fresh homemade pasta. He cites MasterChef judge Gordon Ramsay as his chef idol.
Eric's motivation stems from a desire to prove his worthiness as a chef to his parents. Cooking wasn't an acceptable career option in his household, but now, with a chance at the title of MasterChef Canada, Eric is hoping to prove he has a viable future as a successful chef. If he wins, Eric wants to open his own restaurant in his hometown of Oakville. He'd also like to be a food critic and thinks being paid to eat and increase his food knowledge would be an amazing job.
Josh Gale - IT Sales
Signature Dish: Seared Scallops on a grilled corn and avocado relish
Josh works in Corporate IT Sales, and while he only began cooking two years ago, he remembers being in love with food since he was a teenager. It took a serious back injury and a few months off work to get him tinkering in the kitchen. Josh cites Michelin-style dishes as a main inspiration – he's attracted to artistic plating and the look of food as much as the way it tastes. Josh also loves braising and smoking meat, and has a special interest in working with new tools and products in the culinary space.
Josh has several ambitions that motivated him to become a cook and competitor on MasterChef Canada. He wants to inspire Canadians to eat more home grown food emphasizing local ingredients. If Josh wins the title of MasterChef Canada, he plans to spend the winnings on a load of "crazy cooking gear" to begin creating his food empire, including his own restaurant and a cooking show. Josh's secret – he has a tattoo of Gordon Ramsay somewhere on his body.
Julie Miguel - Senior Analyst
Signature Dishes: Italian Doughnuts (Zeppole) with Espresso and Lemon Creme Anglaise
Julie is a bankruptcy analyst from Woodbridge, Ont. She met her husband in high school and warmly reflects that her son is her proudest accomplishment. After the tragic passing of her mother when Julie was just a teenager, she took on the responsibility of cooking for her entire family. Now, cooking is more than a proud inheritance – it's a stress release and a wonderful escape from her desk job. Julie loves working with desserts, specifically fresh pastries and cakes. You can usually hear The Beatles in the background while Julie cooks, but she also loves to have her son play his mini-guitar.
Julie sees MasterChef Canada as the pivotal next step in her cooking story. She spent a lot of time in the kitchen throughout her life, and wants that commitment to build into something special. Taking the top prize would mean realizing her dream of attending culinary school. Julie hopes to open her own dessert cafe, focusing on speciality coffees and ice cream. She's also very excited to keep a promise she made in person to MasterChef judge Gordon Ramsay four years ago; if MasterChef ever came to Canada, she'd be the first to sign up, and the first to win.
Kaila Klassen - Realtor
Signature Dish: Seared Ahi Tuna with cannellini bean and pancetta fricasee
Hailing from Penticton, B.C., Kaila is a real estate agent with big dreams to feature meat front-and-centre in a successful food truck business. Kaila started cooking at age 17 after her first taste of fine dining. The experience – along with the desire to spend less money eating out so often – prompted her to start recreating dishes at home, including her favourite - braised beef short ribs, with parsnip puree and grilled asparagus, garnished with parsnip chips.
Her original inspiration as a cook is MasterChef's own Gordon Ramsay whom she's "obsessed" with. Auditioning for MasterChef Canada, Kaila is looking to prove her skills and demonstrate that she can achieve anything she puts her mind to. If she takes the top title, Kaila wants to give a chunk of the prize winnings to her mother, as well as create a demo for her own cooking show.
Marida Mohammed - Stay-at-home Mom
Signature Dish: Trini Bake and Red Snapper with a Trio of sauces: Tamarind Sauce, Chadon Beni Sauce and a Cucumber Scotch Bonnet Sauce
Marida is a personal trainer and a stay-at-home mom from Toronto. Her cooking spark ignited at age 6, when her mother would have Marida help her make roti. Everything her mother prepared seemed delicious – even exotic foods like chicken feet and bitter melon, which is why she remains Marida's main cooking inspiration. Marida loves cooking stewed chicken with macaroni pie, but her signature dish is "curried anything." She isn't exactly in love with baking or desserts as she finds the precision required too exact.
Marida is after some exposure on MasterChef Canada. She wants to share her passion for food with the country and spotlight her Trinidadian influence. A restaurant co-owned with her twin sister Narida is in the works if she wins the grand prize. Marida would also love to host a cooking show featuring Caribbean Fusion dishes one day.
Meghan Toth - Stay-at-home Mom
Signature Dishes: Lamb with Gremolata and Parsnip Puree
Meghan is a stay-at-home mom – a job she says she would never change for the world because of her two amazing girls. Her career as a home cook began in her childhood under the guidance of her Parisian grandmother who taught her everything she knows. Healthy and nutritious comfort foods sit proudly at the front of her recipe book. Meghan is most inspired by her husband who she met when he was a quarterback and she was a cheerleader in high school. A constant source of encouragement, he's also a bit of a braggart when it comes to boasting about his wife's cooking.
Meghan wants the title of MasterChef Canada to prove her husband right – something she says most wives usually strive against. If she wins, Meghan wants to start a company focused on planning and prepping for clean-eating. She wants Canada to know she isn’t a quitter and wants to make the Niagara Region proud, proving that stay-at-home moms "are smart cookies in the kitchen."
Mike Green - Journalist
Signature Dish: Pan seared Arctic Char with Ratatouille-infused quinoa and basil/arugula oil sauce
Mike is a freelance journalist from Winnipeg who started cooking at 15. He remembers falling in love with Greek food as a teenager and wanting to learn everything he could about it. Mike lists short ribs, kale, chard, and squash among his favourite ingredients in the kitchen. Mike is an experienced traveler, having visited Japan, New Zealand, the Netherlands, France, Nicaragua, and Panama, among others. He credits his global journey as his primary inspiration for cooking, and while he considers himself a very private person, he's proud of the fact that he just married his girlfriend of 11 years this past summer.
Food journalism is Mike's passion and he'd love to push himself further in that arena if he wins MasterChef Canada, along with opening a gastropub in Winnipeg! He applied to the show to challenge himself and put his skills to the test under intense pressure. His dream job would be anything involving his three passions – food, travel, and writing. Being a travel writer for Vanity Fair or working as a New York Times food columnist would top his list.
Pino DiCerbo - Stay-at-home Dad
Signature Dishes: Crepes filled with ground beef, zucchini and ricotta
Pino is a stay-at-home dad from Mississauga, Ont. When his two young boys were born, he left a successful sales career to be the primary caregiver in his household, and now dreams of entering the culinary work force Pino has always loved cooking – with pasta dishes as a preferred favourite.
Pino applied to MasterChef Canada to kick-start a brand new career in food. His dream job is to one day host his own television cooking show. The grand prize will also allow Pino to support an important cause in his life: the Brandan's Eye Research Fund, dedicated to researching and countering vision disorders in children, such as the one that impacted his own son.
Tammara Behl - Special needs teacher
Signature Dishes: Vegetable Samosa with tamarind chutney and sweet and spicy green mango chutney
Tammara is a special education teacher from Calgary. She wears her heart on her sleeve and has a larger-than-life personality, especially in the kitchen. She remembers cooking for the first time at 3 years of age, courtesy of an Easy Bake Oven. Tammara is a self-professed "fooditarian," a lover of all foods, though with a special knack for preparing Asian dishes. MasterChef judge Gordon Ramsay is high up on Tammara's list of chef inspirations, though she also notably mentions Lynn Crawford, who she thinks is a spectacular role model for female chefs in Canada.
Being on MasterChef Canada is a unique opportunity for Tammara who would love to become the next Lynn Crawford – she definitely wants to be regarded as a positive role model for women in the culinary arts. Her dream job is to be a restaurateur and head chef.