It’s always a heartbreaking moment when one of our favourite competitors on MasterChef Canada (Thursdays, 9 p.m. ET, CTV) goes home, but it was especially heartbreaking on Thursday night when Barrie McConachie was sent packing just one episode before next week’s big finale.
Although the home cook completely wowed the judges during the pastry competition, in the end, it was his own specialty — beef — that sent him packing when he left it way too rare and his three dishes using wagyu beef didn’t vary enough for the judges’ palates. That just leaves Thea and Trevor heading into next week’s episode.
We managed to get McConachie on the phone to learn all of “The Bear’s” secrets when it comes to grilling the perfect cut of meat, cooking with wine and how to stay organized in the kitchen.
What went wrong?
I really don’t know. There were some things technically wrong with what I cooked in the elimination challenge, but what really went wrong is I couldn’t get my brain going again after the excitement and exhaustion of the pastry challenge.
What would you have done differently with a redo?
I would tell that inner voice of mine to go away and go with what my first instinct was. When I first saw the wagyu beef, I had a good plan, but that voice told me to do something else. The original plan was to take a little bit of a culinary journey and do a curried beef tartare, then my spin on a beef tataki with some Asian influence, and then a nice, good old-fashioned English beef wellington.
What tips would you give home cooks on how to cook the perfect steak?
Cook it low and slow. It doesn’t matter what cut you’re doing, low and slow is better. Take a nice, beautiful strip loin steak. You don’t have to do that on a high heat. In fact now, what I’ve learned is that you’re ruining beef when you do it that way. Set your oven to 200 degrees Fahrenheit, put that steak in the for 30 to 40 minutes. That will get it to a good medium rare. Then get a pan good and hot on the stove, take that steak out, salt and pepper it then sear it for 30 seconds on each side just to crisp it up and brown it and you’re good to serve it right away. It’s a technique that I’ve learned spending some time in a professional kitchen lately. Low and slow is better, it’s easier on the product and easier to execute.
You were also known as the wine guy, so what tips would you give on cooking with wine?
First, pour a glass. That’s important because you need to know that what you’re cooking with is good. Cooking with wine takes time because you can’t just add wine to a sauce later because then it will just taste like alcohol. Anytime you cook with it, the alcohol has to go away. So it’s one of the first things in the pot or pan. Get it down, get it reduced, intensify the flavour. If you wouldn’t drink it, don’t cook with it. You don’t need to be putting a $50 or $60 Bordeaux in your wine sauce, there are perfectly good $15 bottles out there. That’s what you should be cooking with.
What other pro tips did you learn?
If you’re doing a dinner at home, get organized. Do as much as you can, and then do things in the proper order. If you’re going to do a three-course meal at home, do dessert first so that you can have a stress-free dessert. Get all of your ingredients together and mise en place for your main course. Anything that you can cook ahead like sauces or roasted potatoes, do them ahead so your main course is stress-free. Then all you have to do is create an appetizer, and that can be finger food, a soup, salad, whatever. And that’s how you have a stress-free meal.
Do you have anything to add?
I sincerely hope there’s a Season 5. I hope that because when I look at the 12 amazing people who got white aprons and all the people who were invited to come try out for the judges, this is a life-changing TV show. And I sincerely hope that another group of people get to have that experience.