Can anybody meet expectations without any "meat expectations?"

Can anybody meet expectations without any “meat expectations?”

That’s the unique task that was placed before the remaining competitors on MASTERCHEF CANADA: BACK TO WIN in a new episode that aired Sunday, March 21 on CTV, and is available for catch-up on the all-new and CTV app.

The nine cooks still in contention were presented with a plant-based, comfort-food challenge. In other words, they had to prepare a dish – sweet or savoury, inspired by any culture – that loosely qualified as comfort food, but using only plant-based products.

Chefs Claudio Aprile, Michael Bonacini, and Alvin Leung seemed honestly impressed, and truly delighted, by the wide range of tasty creations that were placed before them. But one cook wasn’t a natural with plants on the plate, and was asked to depart.

SPOILER ALERT: Details about who was eliminated are going to be revealed.

There was a heart-stopping moment for Andrew Al-Khouri, when his peaches-and-cream dessert was tasted by Aprile, who said flatly, “You’ve made an error in judgment.” Everyone gasped! But then Aprile added, “You don’t think you’re a great pastry chef – and you are.” A relieved Andrew was declared the winner, and he’ll be granted a huge advantage in the next challenge.

Barrie McConachie – who already exited earlier this season but was resurrected when April Lee Baker couldn’t continue due to injury – and Marissa Leon-John were identified as the bottom two. Ultimately, Barrie’s Mediterranean deep-dish pie was deemed to be a little dry, and he headed home (presumably for good this time).

With another new episode of MASTERCHEF CANADA: BACK TO WIN on tap for Sunday, March 28 at 9 p.m. ET on CTV, Barrie was asked about his second chance at a second chance:

Q: How do you respond to the theory that you just might be the most resilient competitor in MASTERCHEF CANADA history?

BARRIE: “Interesting question. I don’t know that I have ever thought of myself in those terms, but I guess it does make some sense. Everything I have done, both in and outside the kitchen, was achieved by a willingness to roll up my sleeves, pitch in, get my hands dirty, and not give up. I have found that the things in my life I have enjoyed or appreciated the most are those that were the hardest to accomplish – such as, applying and auditioning four years in a row before finally getting invited into the MASTERCHEF CANADA Kitchen. Every year that I didn’t get that invitation, I was crushed – for a while. But then I picked myself up, dusted myself off, and focused on next year and doing better so that eventually I would get there.”

Q: No one likes to be eliminated, especially multiple times in the same season. So was it worth it to re-enter the fray?

BARRIE: “I think it was Wayne Gretzky who said, ‘you miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.’ Sorry for the sports analogy, but I think it applies here. When asked to come back again, and then again, I had to take the shot. There was no other choice.”

Q: How has MASTERCHEF CANADA expanded your technical skills? Are there foods you never thought about before, but you now prepare regularly, either professionally or personally?

BARRIE: “My time in the MASTERCHEF CANADA Kitchen, and the success I achieved there in Season 4, equipped me with one powerful tool: confidence. Confidence to try new things, confidence to ask to be included in events, and confidence to ask chefs if I could come and work with them. That enabled me to see first-hand how to do different or new things, and how to cook foods I had never eaten, let alone cooked. Two of my favourite dishes that I have created include Octopus Chawanmushi, and Halibut in Bacon Mushroom Dashi, which I never would have acquired the knowledge and skills needed to be able to create without the opportunity to spend time in some major kitchens with amazing chefs.”

Q: At the end of the episode, you were asked to pick the eventual winner, and you chose Jeremy Senaris. Can you elaborate? Who else has an outside chance?

BARRIE: “I follow Jeremy on social media and the things he can do are amazing. He brings both style and substance to a plate. In other words, the flavours, techniques, and plating are next-level, so win or lose, I think he will go far. I said at the time he has ‘serious moves’ and I stick by that! But I think of Mai (Nguyen) as a force as well. Mai knows flavours, and techniques, and that is a powerful toolbox. The two things that could derail her chances are, first, pressure can get to her, and second, there might be challenges with a type of food she has never experienced – kind of like me with sushi. Another person to watch is Andrew (Al-Khouri). He is smart, talented, and passionate, which is a good combination of attributes.”

By Bill Harris ~ Special to The Lede / Bell Media