"I LOOKED AT THE FIRE AND IT DIDN'T EVEN REGISTER."
KELOWNA – It took 14 episodes, but West Kelowna’s Kaila Klassen has been eliminated from Masterchef Canada.
She fought through more pressure challenges than anyone else on the show, slipped on camera twice, her station caught fire and she spent the majority of the series with a target on her back, but even that wasn’t enough to keep the West Kelowna realtor from making it into the final three.
“To make the final three was very surreal,” she says. “I’m so proud of myself and how far I came.”
In the most recent episode, titled Not-your-average Joe, the four remaining home cooks were tasked with cooking for Masterchef US judge Joe Bastianich. The ingredients they would have to use were selected by Joe himself.
“Holy crow I was freaking out. He’s a tough chef and someone I admire,” she says. “I was nervous to cook for him. They’re not ingredients I use a lot but they are beautiful.”
Klassen chose to make a stuffed veal loin. It was undoubtedly the most complicated dish and all four of the celebrity judges questioned her decision to attempt something so challenging.
“I wanted to impress Joe,” she says. “It was a bit of a gamble but I’ve taken a few risks and I think a lot them paid off. I was so excited he picked my dish.”
No stranger to succeeding with her back against a wall, Klassen’s dish was named the best of the four and Tammara Behl, a special needs teacher from Alberta, was sent home.
“I must have been really hard for the judges. All the dishes were very strong.”
Klassen’s reward for winning the mystery box challenge was she was given first choice of three seafood ingredients to cook with during the second-to-last pressure challenge.
“I chose the scallops because I’ve cooked them before and I love them,” she says. “I’ve never opened scallops before so it took a long time though.”
The remaining two ingredients were Dungeness crab and razor clams. It was clear that Eric Chong, Kaila’s rival since the beginning of filming, desperately wanted the crab. Having made the second-best mystery box meal, it came down to Marida Mohammed to decide who would get the relatively simpler dish.
“Take the freaking crab,” pleaded Klassen. “Do not let Eric have it.”
But that’s exactly what Marida did.
“I don’t think it was deliberate,” Klassen says. “I’m not sure what her strategy was but I’m sure she’s happy she chose the razor clams because she made a beautiful dish.”
Kaila struggled with her scallops early on, and things were not looking good when a paper towel caught fire at her station.
“The funny part was I looked at the fire and it didn’t even register,” she says. “It was just one more obstacle. You never know what will happen in the Masterchef kitchen.”
Although the three judges thought Klassen’s dish tasted good and Chef Claudio Aprile called it “a very admirable dish”, the scallops were slightly overcooked.
“Before I taste your dish, I just want you to know that I think it’s incredible what you’ve achieved here,” Chef Claudio Aprile said to Kaila. “You’ve been in so many pressure tests and you continue to dig deep and find a way to get through. You’re a fighter.”
Klassen says the words meant a lot.
“Coming from Claudio who had some reservations early on, it really meant a lot to me."
With all three dishes tasted, the judges left to decide who would be going home.
After surviving 14 episodes and countless obstacles, it came down to only 15 seconds of cook time. Kaila Klassen was sent home.
“In one sense it was heart wrenching,” she says. “On the other side, I feel like a door is opened for me and I’m so grateful to Masterchef for the opportunity.”
Chef Michael Bonacini had some parting compliments for the young realtor who made it further than anyone thought possible.
“Kaila, there are a lot of valuable lessons to have been learned in the Masterchef kitchen,” he said. “One of them was not to underestimate you. You worked hard for your success here and when you encountered challenges that would have defeated someone else, you survived because you are smart, you listened, you tasted and you took risks.”
Overall, Kaila is very happy with her time on the show and says there are only a few things she would do differently if she had the chance.
“If I could do it over again I probably wouldn’t have made three panna cotta’s. That was silly,” she says. “I should have stuck with just one but overall I’m proud of what I accomplished.”
Although her time on the show is over, Klassen says her success has inspired her to make another brave move. She has decided to open a restaurant here in Kelowna called Krafty Kitchen and Bar.
“I think now is the time,” she says. “I believe it can be extremely successful. The food is going to be local ingredients and local fare, small bites and really happily shared food that is interactive and really fun.”
Eric Chong and Marida Mohammed will battle head-to-head for $100,000 on the season finale next Monday at 8 p.m. Full episodes can be seen on the Masterchef website.
To contact the reporter for this story, email Adam Proskiw at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 250-718-0428. To contact the editor, email email@example.com or call 250-718-2724.