Cardozo makes the top 14 in MasterChef Canada

There's plenty of high pressure competition as each home cook wants to win the first MasterChef Canada title and $100,000.

Danielle Cardozo.

Danielle Cardozo.

Danielle Cardozo of Cranbrook is proudly wearing her MasterChef Canada apron as she has made it into the Top 14 Home Cooks.

Cardozo felt her audition went extremely well although it was not featured on T.V.  Each home cook prepared their signature dish for the three judges to critique. The three chefs are Alvin Leung, Claudio Aprile, and Micheal Bonacini.

“The judging chefs were extremely impressed with my signature dish during the audition. Micheal thought it was well presented and it had balanced flavours. Claudio liked my dish overall but I did hear his wish that I had made the dashi I used in the miso.”

She now knows that it is quite simple to make dashi.

Episode two aired last Monday where Cardozo had more screen time.

“I looked frazzled and they made me look like I couldn’t cook.”

In the last few minutes that Cardozo had to prepare her apple and goat cheese chicken involtini dish, she was in crisis mode as the involtini (rolled up chicken breast) started unrolling.  Cardozo solved her mistake in time to serve the dish to the judges.

“I think there was something about the flavour of my dish because I made it from the top 26 to the top 14.”

“Each [judging] chef is very different. It wasn’t until after the first stress test that we got to know the judges and their preferences.”

Cardozo is the first to admit she is extremely competitive. “I’ve met a lot of people (49 original home cooks) but it’s a competition so guards are up. We’re with people but there is also a sense of isolation.  There’s a lot of the pressure and the competition is high as everyone there wants to win the first MasterChef Canada title and $100,000.”

Before MasterChef, Cardozo never cooked in a stressful situation; for her, cooking was a time to relax after putting her three children to bed after feeding them kid friendly meals.

“I have learned that the nerves start to subside and ease up.”

Cardozo used a food diary to help her prepare for the cooking challenges. She reflected on the first challenge exploring what she could have done better. She used her spare time to study flavour combinations and run through different ingredient scenarios with ground beef versus a steak or chicken. The cooks are given a box full of mystery ingredients with 60 minutes to create a culinary delight for the judges.

For the mystery box challenge, “I made a ginger and garlic glazed pork tenderloin with a hot and sour ramon salad,” said Cardozo. “I feel like I really nailed that dish and was disappointed to not be in the top three!”

Then there was the smelt challenge.

Cardozo made a smelt and salami pizza as an ode to her father and son.

“Pizza for my dad, and it was a twist on the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles famous pepperoni and anchovies. I will admit the judges were not a big fan of this one. I told them I second-guessed myself, as I originally planned to do a fried smelt and crostini (a Portuguese classic) but felt it was too simple. Michael told me I should have gone with the crostini! But hey, it wasn’t smelt quiche!”

Next week, the home cooks are serving up a post-training session meal to the Toronto Maple Leafs, including Leafs royalty Wendel Clark and Darryl Sittler.

“Needless to say, I made it clear that I am from one of Canada’s greatest hockey towns, and that it was an honor to cook for the Leafs. It’s the most intense team challenge and tensions definitely run high! I hope that Cranbrook will all come down to the Heid Out on Monday, February 10, at 6 pm (you’ll need to make a reservation) and watch this one with me, because win or lose it was an epic experience.”

Cardozo is back home, working as a business development coordinator for the St. Mary’s Band. The challenge for Cardozo was being away from her family and friends during the taping of the show and missing out on her work.

“My life is my career. I worked an entire year on a project with St. Mary’s Band and Teck Coal. It weighed on me that the launch date for the project was the same day I flew to my audition for MasterChef Canada.”

She has also started working part-time designing dishes at the Heid Out restaurant. “Every Monday night we do MasterChef Monday’s with my feature dish from that episode. We will be serving the same dish our team served the Toronto Maple Leafs. I took the judges feedback to make changes to the dishes and they have been well received by diners.”

You can vote for your favourite Home Cook at and Cardozo invites you to friend her on Facebook.