The art of canapés and cheesecake in the MasterChef Canada kitchen

Danielle Cardozo teamed up with MCC home cooks to create a gallery of edible art.

Danielle Cardozo among the Top 11 home cooks in Canada's first MasterChef competition. She grew up in the Elk Valley and lives in Cranbrook

Danielle Cardozo among the Top 11 home cooks in Canada's first MasterChef competition. She grew up in the Elk Valley and lives in Cranbrook

The top 12 MasterChef home cooks were in Toronto’s historical Distillery District to serve canapés at an exclusive art show in the Thompson Laundry Gallery.

As team captains, Danielle Cardozo and Dora Cote had the challenge of leading their teams  while they created and served three types of canapés to 100 art connoisseurs. Each team had to create edible works of art to reflect the art in the gallery. The judges were looking for refined canapés and required one hot, one cold and one sweet. Cardozo’s team served a tuna tartar on a crispy wonton, seared scallops on a purple potato chip and a chocolate petite four.

“It turns out that I am a leader,” said Cardozo. “I spent a great deal of time pre-planning my strategy as a captain.”  Cardozo was not about to let it become personal so she picked people who she felt would compliment her weaknesses. She also picked Dale Kuda first as she believed him to be the strongest player.

“I am sure that it shocked everyone, even Dale. It meant taking a chance in putting some extremely large personalities together, including putting Eric (Chong) and Kaila (Klassen) on one team. Logically, it didn’t make sense, but my gut told me it was going to work out.”

Cardozo was extremely proud of her team and how well they worked together.  “They did not allow their preconceptions of me get in the way of their willingness to work with me as their team captain.”

“We didn’t win the challenge, but we did win in team work. I took some major personalities that didn’t get along and encouraged them to work as a team; in that we succeeded. I am happy that I am able to walk away from a team challenge with integrity.”

Coming in a close second pushed Cardozo’s team into a pressure test and for a twist the judges let Cote’s winning team chose the two people who would sit out this challenge. Pino DiCerbo and Eric Chong were saved.  The four left standing for the pressure test challenge were arguably the four strongest home cooks in the room yet one would be going home at the end of the day.

It didn’t surprise Cardozo that the other team would not save her. “For social and game reasons, strategically it was a good choice.”

When the judges announced that they would be baking a cheesecake for the pressure test, Cardozo had her game face on.

“I knew without a doubt I had this one in the bag. There was no way a cheesecake would send me home. Cheesecake and I have a very long history together. It has been a guilty pleasure for as long as I can remember!”

All three judges chose her Key lime cheesecake topped with a limoncello syrup and a little candied lemon as the best.

“It’s beyond very good,” said judge Claudio Aprile.

As a winner of the cheesecake challenge, Cardozo has the added bonus of her recipe being featured in a Philadelphia cream cheese magazine ad.

“I am absolutely honoured to have my recipe featured in a magazine ad campaign. I can hardly believe that my dishes have been featured two weeks in a row. Last week Alexander Keith’s featured my pork and apples dish in their new Hop Ale commercial and social media campaign. I think Canada is starting to realize that I am in this competition to win.”

She may have started off slow, but Cardozo has picked up the pace and is officially a front runner.

In the end it was Josh Gale from Vancouver who went home after his passion fruit cheesecake did not present well; it was Gale’s first time baking a cheesecake.

“The only thing tropical about this [cheesecake] is that it looks like a typhoon hit it,” said judge Alvin Leung.  In spite of the good taste, even judge Michael Bonacini called Gale’s cake a disaster.

Coming up on the next episode of MasterChef Canada (Monday, March 3), the top 11 finalists compete in a mystery box challenge that takes them back to their roots. The theme of the elimination challenge is nose-to-tail Alberta beef, and it becomes abundantly clear that some parts of the animal are definitely more challenging than others. Cardozo continues to advance as the top 11 home cooks vie for the $100,000 and first-ever Canadian MasterChef title.

Cardozo is overwhelmed by the support she has received from the Elk Valley.

“Whether it be on social media, or people stopping me in the grocery store to wish me luck, I am thankful for all the support from this amazing community.”

To get a taste of Cardozo’s talent she’s taking over the menu at Funky’s Pizza in Sparwood on March 29. The five course dinner will have two seatings at 5 pm and 7:30 pm. Ticket prices are $65 each (includes tax and gratuity). Only 30 tickets will be sold for each seating. Tickets will be available for purchase at Funky’s Pizza on March 3.

To follow Cardozo on her MasterChef Canada competition, visit