Danielle Cardozo makes the Top 10 in MasterChef Canada

Inspiring culinary creations from childhood memories led 10 home cooks into a nose-to-tail cooking challenge, brains and all!

Danielle Cardozo cooking beef tongue to make it into  MasterChef Canada's Top 10 home cooks.

Danielle Cardozo cooking beef tongue to make it into MasterChef Canada's Top 10 home cooks.

Danielle Cardozo, from Cranbrook, has made into the Top 10 home cooks for MasterChef Canada. The home cooks recently went back to their roots for an emotional Mystery Box Challenge, followed by a difficult nose-to-tail Elimination Challenge.

At the halfway point in the competition, it was an emotional start to the latest episode. The home cooks lifted the mystery box to find a childhood photo of themselves. The judges wanted them to channel the passion for cooking they found as youth into the first dish of the night.

To see a photo of our younger selves was surreal and extremely emotional. I realized that I had been away from my children, parents and siblings for some time,” said Cardozo. “It was a very emotional reminder of why I was there, and who I was there for. It is worth it, but it doesn’t change how hard it was.”

Cardozo’s dish wasn’t shown but it was reminiscent of the photo that was taken at Loon Lake, in Grasmere, B.C., her family’s favourite annual camp spot.

We used to eat the crayfish from the lake. And what more typical dish but pork and beans. I did an elevated play on that.”

Cardozo made a lentil and pancetta salad with a spiced prawn but it wasn’t enough to impress the judges.

Eric Chong won the first challenge with his Char Siu Tong Mein (Chinese BBQ Pork with soup noodles) that his grandfather used to make for him.

Everything just hit the mark with balance and technique,” said judge Claudio Aprile.

Chong’s win meant he would sit out the elimination challenge and have a hand in the remaining home cooks’ fate. The judges presented the next ingredient, an Alberta beef cow.

A big culinary trend is nose to tail eating using every part of the animal,” said judge Claudio Aprile. With 10 different proteins, Chong chose which protein each home cook would have to cook in the pressure test including brain, tongue, bone marrow, sweet breads, ox tail, and liver.

I definitely know which two I want to send home,” said Chong. “I’m giving them the brains and tongue for sure.”

Chong tasked Cardozo with cooking the tongue and Kaila Klassen with the brains.

When I saw that he chose tongue for me, I knew he had a target on me,” said Cardozo. “He obviously saw me as competition. During the competition, he told me he wasn’t gunning for me and he gave me what was remaining from his choices. I laughed tonight, as he texted me and apologized. He knew the truth would come out that he was gunning for me. I have serious respect for Eric, he played the game well in both a culinary sense and a social sense.”

I was straight up scared. Beef tongue? Never seen or touched it before in my life.”

Cardozo tried to take the awful layer of skin off but it wouldn’t budge. “I could barely cut through it; I had no clue.”

She did know tough meat can be cooked in a pressure cooker in a significantly reduced amount of time but she had never used a pressure cooker before.

I have to laugh because I think I had the judges a little nervous. Used improperly it can be extremely dangerous.”

It wasn’t until the last moment that I was able to taste it,” said Cardozo. “I was still nervous. We were entering the Top 10, and I served them salad and meat.”

When I saw the look on Claudio’s face, I knew that I was going to make Top 10. I was exhilarated! When you’re in Top 50, you are praying to make Top 16. When you make Top 16, you are praying to make Top 10!”

Back to the brains.

Eric assigns me the brains,” said Klassen from West Kelowna. “That just fuels me to get through this challenge. I’m going to kill it today and then I’m going after him [Eric] so he better be careful.”

Home cook Dale Kuda said, “Whenever you underestimate Kaila, and you give her something difficult, she really stands up to the bar and proves herself.”

The judges agreed as once again, Klassen was the judges’ run away favourite with her crispy cow brains with grilled pollenta, mushrooms and arugula. Pino DiCerbo, from Mississauga, Ontario had the runner up dish with his Jamaican ox tail stew with rice and beans.

The bottom three dishes were from Dale Kuda with his raw rib eye steak, Mike Green with his oxidized liver and Dora Cote with an under seasoned beef cheek stew that judge Claudio Aprile said, “Looked like barf.”

In the end, in spite of her colourful personality and respectful nature with the judges, it was Cote from Rocky Mountain House, Alberta who went home.

Next week Kaila Klassen and Pino DiCerbo lead the Top 10 home cooks as they face their next team challenge at the Canadian Forces Base in Trenton. Using pop-up army field kitchens, they have to make a delicious steak dinner for 151 troops. Battling unfamiliar equipment, inclement weather, and each other, the teams fight to avoid the dreaded pressure test.

Back at home the Heid Out in Cranbrook was packed on Mar 3 as Cardozo served both dishes from the episode: Prawn, lentil, and pancetta salad and roasted beet and beef tongue salad.

Cardozo will be at Fernie Alpine Resort this weekend working in the kitchen for a private dinner. Chef Dave Bohati, of Market Restaurant Calgary, is teaming up with the chefs of Corner Pocket. He has invited Cardozo to provide her experience in the kitchen. “I am excited to be cooking in my hometown for the first time! It was once my home and will always be where my heart is.”

Elk Valley locals will have a chance to dine on Cardozo’s chef budding talents as she is serving a five course dinner at Funky’s Pizza on March 29. Tickets are limited and now available for $65 at Funky’s Pizza.

To follow the culinary creations go to www.ctv.ca/MasterChefCanada.