It was a tough night for the remaining MasterChef Canada competitors. They were paired up, blindfolded and asked to identify all the flavours of a cake with four tiers and three layers of icing in honour of Canada’s 150th birthday.
And that was before Season 3 winner Mary Berg stopped by to task the cooks with recreating a modern tuna casserole. Fish and cheese? Yeah, that wasn’t exactly in most of these chefs’ wheelhouses, and it showed.
Unfortunately for 22-year-old Jordan Levin, his disastrous cake and an even more disastrous take on a “deconstructed” tuna casserole sent him packing in the end. We caught up with aspiring chef to get his take on how to elevate a dish, what makes for real comfort food and how to plate like a pro.
Now that you’re out of the MasterChef Canada kitchen, what’s been the biggest thing you’ve learned in doing the show?
That it’s so important to cook food that people want to eat and food that, first, tastes good and then, second, to elevate it. To take it to that next level of refinement… when you go to a restaurant, you have all of these beautiful, well-conceptualized dishes with a lot of complex, technical parts. That’s considered elevated and refined and I’d love to get myself to that level one day.
Channeling flavours of my youth today! I remember always eating little cheese-filled pastas with butter and gratuitous amounts of black pepper. Simple, yet delicious ☺️ • Tortellini filled with ricotta, parmesan tuiles, beurre monté sauce and cracked black pepper. • Also! Don’t forget to catch me again tonight on Masterchef Canada on CTV @ 9/8c!!!
Would you consider the birthday cake you guys had to do refined?
To be fair, a four-layer cake with three layers of icing is never an easy task as is. And in one hour, it’s a little bit more difficult! Baking isn’t exactly my specialty. I’ll do it every now and then, but I don’t consider myself a baker.
Did you pick up any tricks on how to make a great icing or cake batter?
Doing that challenge really put into perspective how hard actual bakers work every single day, day in and day out. I don’t know if that’s something I could do every day. It’s so technical and so precise, getting every detail exact and making sure your icing is the perfect consistency, that your cakes are perfectly baked. It just has to be perfect in order to have a beautiful final product.
Going into the elimination challenge, what was your biggest mistake?
I tried to take the tuna casserole and deconstruct it and re-conceptualize it with an Asian twist. In doing so, I forgot so many little pieces and I didn’t take it to a point where it was food you really crave. It’s not food that looks really tasty. All the elements were good, but it didn’t really come together. It wasn’t comfort food, and it wasn’t well thought out.
How would you have done it if you had a second chance?
Honestly, I’ve thought of 100 different possible options that I could have cooked for this challenge rather than doing what I did. Just about anything else would have been better. For example, that velouté that I had on my plate was really interesting and fun. It was sort of like a nori, Japanese-inspired velouté. I was going to make it almost thinner, like a soup, but not that thin. Then I would have had the seared tuna on top and just had some sautéed greens in there for some freshness, like the peas. And then have something for a bit of crunch and make it more sophisticated. And then, of course, have it more elegantly presented.
Have you made a tuna casserole since?
I’ve never eaten a tuna casserole before until that day and I have never cooked one. It’s not something I would personally go to eat; it’s not a comfort food for me. Fish and cheese doesn’t sound appetizing to me!
Have people at home commented on whether your skills have improved since the show?
I think it’s clear that my plating and the food that I’m putting out is so much more refined and more complicated and technical than it was before. And when people have tasted my food, they’ve definitely noticed an improvement. It’s something I’m working on every day in order to improve my skills and technique until I can get to that MasterChef level!
What’s the best way to plate a dish?
When thinking about plating, I always say to go to Instagram or the Internet. There are so many chefs who are putting their beautiful, three-Michelin star dishes online for us to look at. Seek inspiration from them. Look at cookbooks and look at how actual chefs are plating their food. That will help you get to the point of having beautiful plates.
Of the three judges who is the most intimidating?
Claudio. He is the most stern and most intense with his critiques.
Now that you’re out of the running, who are you rooting for to win?
I would love, love, love to see Justine win. She’s just so fabulous — she deserves to win.