KELOWNA – Once again, Kelowna’s Kaila Klassen has managed to pull a miracle out of her chefs hat and has made it into the top eight on Masterchef Canada.
“You know what I like about you Kaila?” asked Masterchef Canada judge Michael Bonacini. “Your ambition.”
Masterchef Canada is a hit TV show that pits amateur cooks against each other in a series of team and individual cooking challenges.
Despite impressing the judges in almost every challenge, respect from the other cooks has been slow to come for Klassen.
“I don’t know why they were underestimating me,” Kaila says. “It may be because I’m blonde, it may be because I’m younger. All I care about is that they are starting to recognize that I am a force to be reckoned with.”
In the ninth episode, titled The Great Canadian Bake Sale, Klassen made a decision that caused the three celebrity chefs to question her judgment for the first time. She chose to roast an entire squab, a relative of the pigeon.
“I was pretty sure I’d have enough time,” she says. “I’m good with cooking meat and I love roasting birds so I was pretty confident.”
Chef Claudio Aprile called the move “ballsy”, and Michael Bonacini noticed “Kaila looks worried.” All three of the judges appeared to question her ability to roast an entire bird in the time allowed but were impressed in the end.
“I think it’s safe to say that this is probably the riskiest thing anyone’s done,” he said before declaring her dish “outstanding.”
Outstanding or not, Klassen’s roast pigeon was not good enough to win the challenge. Danielle Cardozo was chosen instead, giving her control of the ingredients the cooks would have to use in the elimination round.
“I’ve never made a Nanaimo bar before,” Klassen said when the ingredients Danielle chose were announced. “I have no idea where to even begin.”
She may not have made the West Coast dessert before, but that didn’t stop her from another bold grab at victory.
Klassen chose to make not one, but three different panna cotta for the judges. The chocolate and coconut panna cotta turned out well and impressed the judges, but the vanilla failed to set.
Klassen admits she was too ambitious and should have focused on a single dish, rather than three.
“What was I thinking!?” she says. “I should have just done one well and left it at that but I didn’t and time got away from me and I ended up putting a panna cotta soup on the plate.”
Still, the flavours in the dish were enough to keep Klassen safe from elimination and she is now in the top eight.
Danielle, who watched the elimination challenge from the safety of the gallery and expressed a desire to see Kaila eliminated, closed the show with a shot aimed squarely at Klassen.
"My strategy almost played out the way I wanted it to," she said. "Marida (Mohammed) was on the bottom, Kaila was not. There's always next time."
Full episodes of Masterchef Canada can be seen online here or on CTV Monday night.
To contact the reporter for this story, email Adam Proskiw at email@example.com, call (250) 718-0428.