“Massive call” for Prince Albert would-be chefs to compete in MasterChef T.V. show

Kevin Hampson
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“A massive call has gone out” for a battle to the finish, said recruiting sergeant Cathie James.

O.K., she isn’t a recruiting sergeant, she’s the executive producer of the upcoming CTV show, Master Chef Canada, a spinoff of the U.K. hit which has seen local incarnations all over the world; Canada is the forty-third country to have its own version, James said.

“Master chef is one of the biggest competitions for an amateur chef in Canadian history,” she added.

Such a monumental event requires larger-than-life personalities to preside as judges.

Contestants on the U.S. version submit their offerings to a panel that includes the foul-mouthed superstar-chef, Gordon Ramsay.

The three-chef panel for the Canadian version has not yet been chosen, but it will be picked from among twenty of “the finest cooks in Canada and the world,” who will vie for the job, James said.

To be chosen, the chefs “have to have credibility and the cooking chops -- that’s a given -- but (they also) have to be good on camera, really articulate and passionate about cooking,” James said.

The criteria for those who wish to contend for the title of Master Chef are similar.

“We’re looking for people who are really passionate and who want to expand their ability,” James said. “[And] of course, for television we’re looking for people with a great personality who viewers are going to relate to.”

Candidates must be amateur chefs; if your primary source of income involves cooking, you won’t be accepted for an audition.

To apply, you have to start by printing off an application form from CTV’s website and turn it in by July 25.

Applicants are interviewed on the phone to assess how passionate they are and to see if they have the cooking skills. For those who pass, the next step is an in-person interview.

Fifty people, out what James expects to be about 2,000 across the country, will eventually be chosen to come to Toronto for the first episode, when contestants will be asked to “make the dish of their lives.”

They’ll get about an hour to prepare it and then about five minutes for “plating,” before the judges apply their discerning taste buds.  

That will reduce the contestants to about 25, and the number will be further whittled down until two chefs are left for a final face-off.

CTV hasn’t yet announced what the prize will be, but the winner of the U.S. version brings home $250,000, gets his own cookbook and, if all goes well, starts a culinary career, James said.

As of Thursday, no one from Prince Albert had applied.

Organizations: Prince Albert

Geographic location: Canada, U.S., U.K. Toronto

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