Big cut leads to big win for Cardozo on MasterChef Canada

Major steaks lead to a perfect salmon Wellington for Fernie born Danielle Cardozo.

MasterChef Canada home cooks (L-R) Kaila Klassen

MasterChef Canada home cooks (L-R) Kaila Klassen

MasterChef Canada’s top nine home cooks, including Danielle Cardozo from Cranbrook, walked onto the Royal Canadian Air Force base in Trenton, Ontario in the latest episode.

“It was surreal,” said Cardozo. “I felt its presence the moment I stepped foot on the base. Cooking for our troops was simply an honour. It was amazing to have the opportunity to thank so many men and women for all that they do for our country.”

Home cooks Kaila Klassen and Pino DiCerbo lead their teams as they prepared hearty barbecued 12 ounce Canadian ribeye steaks with two side dishes in two hours for 151 soldiers of the Canadian Armed Forces. Whether it be the narrowing competition or the lack of sleep, there was a lot of bickering among both teams during this challenge.

“We were up at 3 am to get ready for the challenge,” said Cardozo. “We were all exhausted and things got emotional. Pressure was high to cook a great dinner for such amazing people. There was a lot going on for all of us that day. Of course [T.V.] editing focuses on the drama, because honestly, it is what people want to see. My hope for viewers is that they won’t judge everyone for our bad days and remember that we’re all human. It was a very stressful situation to be in. Most of us are able to forgive words that are said. Our friendships off set are very different after the competition. During the competition, it’s easy for the claws to come out.”

Cardozo was on Klassen’s team which served steak with roast potatoes and Brussel sprout bacon hash but ran out of both side dishes before serving all the troops. DiCerbo’s team served steak and barbecue sauce with Brussel sprouts and a couscous salad. When one steak was returned to the kitchen cold, DiCerbo had to wonder how many steaks were served cold. The soldiers voted 107 in favour for DiCerbos’ team as their favourite, saving everyone on his team from the dreaded pressure test.

On the team challenge, Cardozo said there were definitely some disappointing decisions made on her team.

“I wasn’t happy that our loss had so much to do with the fact that we ran out of sides, which was something that was definitely in our control. It meant I was cooking in a pressure test the next day.”

Back in the MasterChef Canada kitchen more heated words were exchanged as Klassens’ team had to decide amongst themselves who would get to sit out of the pressure test, hence elimination.

“Without having built any alliances with those around me, I was confident I would not get immunity regardless of who got to pick,” said Cardozo.

Marida Mohammed from Toronto was chosen to sit out the pressure test, hence saving her from elimination.

Judge Michael Bonacini presented the four home cooks with salmon Wellington as the dish to create in 60 minutes.  He described the dish as “a light and delicate pastry shell on the outside with a layer of leek and Swiss chard on top of a moist centre cut of succulent salmon that should be cooked just right with a light dill sauce on the plate.”

Four minutes into the challenge Cardozo cut her left hand yet continued to chop with her right as a medic tried to stop the bleeding. The medics wrapped it twice before they eventually pulled her from the kitchen as the 5 millimetre cut kept bleeding through.

“I was terrified that I was going to get sent home,” she said. “I refused to let it happen. I got the medic to over wrap it and went back in with 12 minutes lost.”

Cardozo had 48 minutes to do the same challenge everyone else had to do in 60 minutes.

“That only made me want it that much more. First off, I was not going home on fish. Second, I was not going home on pastry. Honestly, if I went home for cutting myself, I’d probably never show my face in public again. If anything, cutting myself gave me that much more drive to get it done and do it well.”

The three judges agreed.

“Crispy pastry, just the right seasoning for the vegetables, and the sauce is a nice complement,” said judge Alvin Leung.

Claudio Aprile said, “I don’t know how you managed to cook something so beautiful in less than 60 minutes. It’s delicious.”

Michael Bonacini commended her for cooking with a lot of passion.

Julie Miguel’s salmon Wellington was the judges’ second choice.

Dale Kuda from Toronto and Kaila Klassen from West Kelowna both had undercooked pastry and it was Kuda who was given his marching orders as he was cut from MasterChef Canada.

“There’s no colour in the barely cooked pastry,” said Michael Bonacini, “and the swiss chard stems, you wouldn’t find in a sophisticated recipe.” The salmon was on the raw side for Bonacini and Leung. Aprile said, “The inside is delicious, but the outside is raw. It’s a real shame.”

As Kuda left the kitchen he answered the judges’ question of who he thought will take the MasterChef Canada’s first title.

“Kaila will come back from this and take it.”

Klassen may be used to impressing the judges as she has won several pressure tests and called Cardozo’s win a “fluke”.

“I think anyone watching that day knows it was hard work and determination,” said Cardozo.

Back at home, Cardozo got to enjoy her big win and catch up with close friends (a rarity with her busy schedule) to celebrate the excitement at Cranbrook’s Heid Out restaurant that was sold out.

Coming up on the next episode of MasterChef Canada (Monday, March 17), the top nine home cooks raise their mystery boxes to reveal a jaw-dropping array of rare and challenging ingredients. They turn out to be a selection of the judges’ favourite culinary items culled from their own restaurant kitchens. The home cook who can get creative with ingredients like durian (otherwise known as the stinky fruit), sea urchin, squab (domestic pigeon) and Kimchi will get to choose what everyone else tackles in the elimination challenge – and this time the inspiration lies a lot closer to home. The remaining top nine home cooks are vying for $100,000 and the first-ever Canadian MasterChef title.

To watch the home cooks in action, go to