KELOWNA – It was a good strategy for Mike Green to pair Kaila Klassen and Eric Hsu together in this week’s episode of Masterchef Canada, but it didn’t work out the way he thought it would.
The episode “Claws Out” started with a Mystery Box Challenge unlike any of the previous. Instead of a box filled with unusual ingredients, the home cooks found… nothing. They were empty.
After a few moments of confusion, the three celebrity judges Claudio Aprile, Michael Bonacini and Alvin Leung took the seven home cooks to a large wooden box at the back of the stage.
The secret ingredient was revealed and Klassen’s relief was obvious. It was a food she cooks at home once a week.
“I love lobster,” she exclaimed.
The cooks were given 45 minutes to prepare a dish of their choice, as long as it featured the mystery ingredient.
“The challenge with lobster is to make sure it’s not overcooked,” Klassen says. “The three judges have such amazing palates and probably eat a ton of lobster so I wanted to make sure it was cooked to perfection.”
Kaila chose to make lobster risotto, but so did Pino DiCerbo and long-time rival and Kaila-hater Eric Hsu.
“Knowing now that three people did risottos, I should have done a lobster cake,” Klassen admits. “But when you’re in the time situation you go with your first instinct.”
Klassen’s risotto turned out well, but was not chosen as one of the best three dishes. Mike Green’s lobster roll won the challenge and meant he was safe from the elimination round. The win gave him another distinct advantage — he could select the pairs who would have to work together to survive the elimination challenge.
The dish the couples would have to replicate was the Asian favourite, dim sum.
“I’ve never made dim sum before,” says Klassen. “It’s not something that’s really in my repertoire.”
Mike Green, of course, decided to put Kaila and Eric together in a strategic bid to send one of them home. Right from the start, it looked like his strategy might work.
Eric, who fell apart as leader during last week’s team challenge, looked unfocused and spent most of the time either shouting orders at Klassen or ignoring her completely.
“Eric’s grandfather owned a dim sum restaurant,” Klassen says. “so I was happy we were paired but he wasn’t.”
With Eric taking the lead and Kaila looking like more of a cheerleader at times, the pair managed to make all five dishes in the 80 minutes they were given. The problem however, came when the judges tasted their creations.
“We should have tasted our food before we gave it to them,” Klassen says. Chef Bonacini said the food was bland, but attractive. He also pointed out to Eric that Kaila was the calmer of the two and Eric gave Kaila a half-hearted thank you.
“I think it was hard for him to do that but I do think it was genuine,” Klassen says.
In the end Julie Miguel was sent home, which suits Kaila fine. In the past she was one of those who didn't see Klassen as a threat.
“It’s the name of the game. I’m happy that someone went home and that it wasn’t me.”
Masterchef Canada is a competitive cooking game show on CTV that pits 16 home cooks against each other in a series of competitions involving different types of food. Each week, at least one of the chefs is sent home, based on a variety of real life cooking challenges.
Kaila Klassen is a realtor and amateur chef who was selected for the show in late August of 2013. She was born in Penticton and lives in West Kelowna.
Full episodes of Masterchef Canada can be seen online here or at 8 p.m. Monday on CTV.
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.