How this Foodie Dad Made it to MasterChef Canada Season 2

One dad's journey in the quest for a white apron....

How this Foodie Dad Made it to MasterChef Canada Season 2

My life has been a series of coincidences which defy logic. So to me it really comes as no surprise that I landed one of the coveted spots as a finalist on season 2 of MasterChef Canada. 
Case in point:
  • I wasn't supposed to go to sleepover camp in Wisconsin but followed a friend there after 10th grade when all other plans fell through... and ended up meeting the girl I would one day marry.
  • I wasn't supposed to get into my Comp Sci program at university. One of my high school math marks had been too low and a clerical error allowed me to slip through.
  • I wasn't supposed to get a job at IBM. My grades in university were too low but as he was ruffling through some applications on his desk a manager saw that I had helped organize a basketball tournament to raise money for Leukemia patients and he was intrigued to hear more.
and so on and so on...
I was actually not one of the 1.8 million Canadians who obsessed over MaserChef Canada season 1. In fact, I had never seen an episode. It was my friend Darren who kept hounding me with:
"Gav, you HAVE to try out for this show - you'd be perfect for it."
"Gav, did you apply? Here's the link!"
"Gav, there are only 3 days left to apply!"
Finally - more to suffice Darren's eagerness than anything - I headed over to the MasterChef Canada audition page and read through the audition process. In addition to the lengthy questionnaire they strongly recommended an accompanying video. Well, with a day job as VP at a software company, two food blogs, a wife, 3 kids, and two hockey games I play in weekly, a video just wasn't in the cards. "Oh, well." I figured I could submit the application and happily tell Darren that I'd applied but hadn't made the cut.
Time ticked along and one day my phone rings. PROPER TELEVISION popped up on my caller ID. Proper Television - huh? I didn't realize at the time that they were the production company for MasterChef Canada. Sure enough I had received a VIP invite to come down and audition for the show along with 4,500 other Canadians. OK - I could put aside a Sunday and stand on line with the thousands of people in Toronto trying out. I've spent the last 6 or so years cooking for my food blogs and putting my recipes out there for people to critique. Surely I could handle a little rejection from the audition crew at MasterChef Canada and go home happy to have tried out.
The day came and went. I dragged my butt downtown early one Sunday morning and presented my dish. I also did an on-camera interview but kind of felt like I pooched it a bit. Alas, I went home with my head held high. My three kids - Emily, Josh and Isabella - were so thrilled that I had even gone down to audition. They are HUGE fans of the show!
Weeks passed and nothing. My mind moved on to other things in my busy life. Again, my cell phone rings: PROPER TELEVISION. I'd made it as a finalist on season 2. My heart skipped. My jaw dropped. I couldn't breathe. I had never expected anything from that questionnaire I filled out online and yet this one call delivered so much for me. Recognition that I had what it takes to cook for three of the greatest chefs on the Canadian food scene. Recognition that I could compete with amateur cooks from across this culinary spectrum of our awesome county. 
Photo credits: courtesy of CTV
Just walking in on day one and standing in a room with all of these foodies and home cooks was such an incredible experience. To hear about how their dishes were influenced by where they came from - by the fresh local produce available to them - was an experience I will never forget. I can't wait until the premier on Feb 1 to start sharing my whole adventure with you. First: the quest for a coveted white apron! And I'll have lots more to tell you all as it all unfolds. Until then - this is one more adventure that I've stumbled upon through a series of fortunate accidents!
MASTERCHEF CANADA Season 2 premieres Sunday, Feb. 1 after the Super Bowl on CTV (approx. 10 p.m. ET), before moving to its regular timeslot of Sundays at 7 p.m. ET/PT on CTV, beginning Feb. 8th

Dump 'n Bake: No-Headache No-Boil Homemade Mac 'n Cheese

The simple non-boil, roux-free baked mac 'n cheese that doesn't compromise on taste

Dump 'n Bake: No-Headache No-Boil Homemade Mac 'n Cheese

No Boil Macaroni and Cheese

We're currently trying to sell our house. Nothing exciting there, but it means my ability to mess up the kitchen is severely limited. Couple that with the fact that my family still needs to eat dinner every night and you'll see I've got myself quite the conundrum. I need solutions for delicious dinners that don't make a big mess and minimize the amount of dirty dishes they generate. Fortunately, I've been thinking up recipes for you all for long enough that this has become somewhat of my specialty: take a complex recipe, then strip it down to its simplest steps without compromising on taste.

This is Why Staging Your Home is Important

This week my kids were bugging me for some homemade baked mac 'n cheese. Take a look around the web and you'll see that most baked mac 'n cheese recipes have two steps I was hoping to cut out. 

1) The prerequisite to boil the pasta ahead of making the dish

2) The time-consuming & laborious creation of a milk and flour roux to pour over top of the pasta once it is set in the baking dish

The recipe I came up with purposely skips both of these steps. Everything gets dumped right into the dish as is. The beauty is in the simplicity. The finished dish is warm, comforting, and gooey with just the perfect amount of crunch from the panko bread crumbs. The cheesy, buttery flavour is going to make this one of your family's favourites.

This Easy To Assemble Slow Cooker Lasagna Will Also Keep Your Kitchen Clean

I'd like to tell you that I spent hours in the kitchen experimenting, tinkering, and perfecting this recipe before I got it right, but my three taste testers demand perfection on the first try. Dinner's served. Hope you enjoy it!


1/2 cup butter

900 grams scoobi do or elbow macaroni

4 cups shredded cheddar cheese, divided

1/4 teaspoon ground mustard

1/4 cup all-purpose flour

1 tablespoon salt

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1 liter light cream (5%)

3 cups skim milk

1 cup panko bread crumbs


Preheat oven to 400°. Grease a 9x13" baking dish.  

Take approximately three-quarters of the butter and dice it. In a large bowl combine the dry pasta, diced butter, 3 cups of the cheese and stir to roughly combine. Now stir in your dry ingredients (flour, ground mustard, salt and pepper). Yes I know the pasta isn't cooked and this is weird. Just stay with me here...

Pour the mixture into the greased baking dish and even out with a spatula. Mix together the cream and milk and carefully pour over the pasta to submerge. You might have to pat it down here or there to ensure the pasta is covered with liquid. Do not stir, and cover tightly with foil. Bake until pasta is tender, about 45 minutes.

Now melt the remaining butter in the microwave for 20 seconds or in a skillet over low heat. Add panko bread crumbs and toss to combine. Season liberally to taste with salt and pepper.

Remove the pasta from the oven and remove the foil. Sprinkle with remaining 1 cup of cheese, then panko flakes. Bake until bubbling, and top is golden brown, about 10 minutes. Allow to rest for at least 10 minutes before serving.

Makes 8-10 servings

For another delicious baked pasta dish, try my family's favourite: Baked Ziti