Saturday, June 15, 2019

9 Master Chef Canada Secrets Revealed!!!

My cousin’s kid just won Master Chef Canada. Jennifer Crawford is Canada’s coolest and smartest
REFLECTING ON FAMILY: Jenn's so brilliant
you need shades.
cook. Here’s 9 things about this kitchen wizard you won’t find anywhere else.

1)      Jenn's mom is Joan. I know. Joan Crawford. As in Mommie Dearest. It’s a cliché everybody knows based on a book nobody’s read and when I Googled the book to ensure I got the title correct, I learned the writer, Christina Crawford, exaggerated a lot and Crawford the actor may have had issues but she was nowhere near the demon Christina made her out to be in fact her other kids had wonderful loving stories to tell about their mom. But that’s got precious little to do with the subject at hand, I just thought it was interesting.

2)    Speaking of names, Jennifer calls me a “newfounduncle,” because even though Jenn's lived in Toronto 10 or so years, we connected only eight months ago. Jenn was raised in a teensie place called Kingston, Nova Scotia. I now know three people from Kingston. One is Master Chef Jennifer, who has at least two university degrees and can bench press more than my weight; then there’s Jenn's big brother Lucas, a full university professor, and finally, my musician friend Dr. Michael Thibodeau, who has a Ph freaking D in piano, from the University of Toronto. All that brainpower from one tiny outta-the-way place! "So," I asked Michael: “What’s in the water?” Michael’s response? “Keith’s.”

ONLY THE POM POMS ARE MISSING: Jenn's cheering squad
(photo by Brilynn Ferguson)
3)   He meant Keith’s the beer. And for some reason, I’m reminded of the only Karl Marx quote I know: “From each according to his ability, to each according to his need.” Here’s why: A few days before the Master Chef finale, which was last Monday, Jenn texted me from Nova Scotia. Jenn was coming back to T.O. for the showing of the final episode and the plan? Host a few dozen closest friends and family at a viewing party. Ingredient number-one: a Toronto bar that would turn its TV screens over to Master Chef. Problem number-one? The Raptors. All the places Jenn phoned said their screens would be all basketball, all evening.  Nobody’d seen that coming. “Who,” Jenn must have wondered, “would be the one person in Toronto most capable of finding me a bar when I need it?”

4)    Tu-duh! Newfounduncle Pete! Jenn knew if anybody was up to that job, it was me. So, in the company of Newfoundaunt Helena, I bravely ventured out that very evening, visiting bar after bar until eventually stumbling upon the congenial and welcoming Elvyra Beniusyte behind the bar at a place called Bar Lokys, just a few blocks from our house. Elvyra, who immigrated from Vilnius just three months(!) ago loved the idea and helped make the viewing party happen. (P.S. If I were looking to hire a multi-lingual university grad with extraordinary interpersonal communication skills and expertise in data analysis, I’d hire Elvyra in an instant. Just sayin’. Like I said, each according to his ability.)

5)     Jenn’s  cooking was what won the prize but I’m thinking the judges were clinched by that all-encompassing smile.
RAPTOR RIVAL  Master barkeep Elvyra, Master Chef Jenn, and
 Ed, on left (where you'll always find him.)

6)     That said, play poker with Canada’s newest Master Chef at your peril. Jenn Crawford might well have the most expressive face you’ve ever laid eyes on but get this: Filming ended a few months before the party at Bar Lokys. During that time, I’d been in touch with Jenn a lot. But ... crickets. Even in Bar Lokys, surrounded by fans, as the final moments neared and it was down to Jenn and one Andre Bahgwandat. Faces toward the TV, most of us were holding our breath as top chef Michael Bonacini said “Canada’s new master chef is…..” and the camera zoomed in to Jenn’s and Andres’s faces.  When Bonacini said “Jennifer” the champ Monday looked as surprised as the rest of us.  (If I tried to keep a secret like that the top of my head would blow off.)
(photo by Brilynn Ferguson)

7)     In addition to charm one of the appetizers that helped Jenn clinch it was a delicacy with the too-gross-by-half name “Ants On A Log.”  Ants. On. A. Log. Yummy! The main ingredient: Blue Cheese! Usually when I think of blue cheese, what comes to mind is when the hero in Woody Allen’s sci-fi spoof Sleeper used its pungency to subdue a bad guy. But after Master Chef? A spoonful of Ants on A Log seems like a great idea.

8)     Not that this should come as a surprise to anybody but after meeting my brother Ed the first time,  Jenn described him as “so charismatic.” You talk like that about Ed and you're my new best friend.

9)    Which reminds me. When Ed did his stand-up routine at 2nd City earlier this year, the host, Evan Carter, introduced him with “He’s the uncle all the nieces and nephews think is funniest.” Turns out my newfound niece Jenn is just as sweet and as astonishing as any of my oldfound nieces, and that, friends, is saying something.