MasterChef Canada contestant a cut above

Former Pentictonite Kaila Klassen is showing her cooking talents off to the world in MasterChef Canada. - Submitted Photo
Former Pentictonite Kaila Klassen is showing her cooking talents off to the world in MasterChef Canada.
— image credit: Submitted Photo

Kaila Klassen learned her way around the kitchen as a youth with her mom in Penticton.

Now, she is in the Top seven of one of her favourite cooking shows, MasterChef Canada.

“I did a quick little quirky video of myself cooking and sent it in,” said Klassen, who graduated from Princess Margaret Secondary School.

“Within 11 hours I heard back; they wanted me to come to Vancouver within two days, audition for them and cook a dish for their judges.”

Klassen travelled to Vancouver, prepared braised beef short ribs with bone marrow mashed potatoes and bourbon and maple syrup glazed baby carrots for the judges and, a few days later, learned her food earned her a spot in the top 50. The Re/Max real estate agent, who now calls West Kelowna home, then flew to Toronto, where she met the other 49 contestants and created a dish — seared ahi tuna with cannelloni bean and pancetta fricassee with shaved black truffle and shaved asparagus salad — for MasterChef Canada judges Michael Bonacini, Claudio Aprile and Alvin Leung.

“Having a glass of wine and cooking at home for your boyfriend is a heck of a lot different than cooking in front of like 30 cameras.

“I was about to pee myself, I was so nervous. But it was a really good experience.”

According to Klassen, the judges were tough and didn’t care about anything other than what was on the contestants’ plates.

“I thought it was really liberating to be judged solely on your food. It wasn’t what you said, how you looked or what you did for a living…it was all in your food.”

It was after quickly realizing just how expensive it can be to eat out that Klassen found out how much she enjoyed cooking. She also appreciated how much money she was saving by making the meals at home.

Klassen’s immediate family, who still live in Penticton, keep supporting her to pursue her dreams even if it comes with a little tough love.

“Oh, every Monday I get text messages and calls. They give their two cents, of course. Why did you do this? Or you did this really well,” said Klassen. “Mostly the conversation is we are really proud of you.”

So far she has impressed them with roasting a squab, food truck challenge, cooking brains and a burger challenge.

“I always had a love for burgers and I took my mom’s homemade burger and elevated it quite a bit,” said Klassen.

The newfound fame has been overwhelming for her.

“In the grocery store I get people coming up to me and saying. ‘We are watching you and supporting you and go Okanagan.’ I am so thankful for all the community support,” she said.

The West Kelowna home cook goes up against her remaining opponents in various competitions as contestants get eliminated every week. Follow Klassen’s MasterChef Canada journey on Sunday’s on CTV.

Klassen has considered embarking upon a career in the food industry, but said she’s currently happy in the real estate industry. Still the thought is there.

“You stayed tuned for that,” she said.

-With files from Wade Patterson/Kelowna Capital News

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