St. Thomas University grad Jennifer Crawford started cooking when they were in the fourth grade. Now, they are the winner of the most recent season of MasterChef Canada.
Crawford and 17 other amateur chefs competed for the title of MasterChef Canada and a $100,000 prize last December.
“I always loved eating, more than anything. And that’s why I got into cooking so early,” said Crawford, who graduated from STU in 2003 with a major in English.
The grad said attending STU, and all the rest of their academic career at St. Francis Xavier University and St. Mary’s University taught them skills which helped during the competition.
“An appreciation for art and literature generally served me really well. It’s kind of through literature that you learn how important all of the tiny inflections, gestures, movements are. Literature teaches you how important something like a beautiful meal is.”
Crawford said not getting what you want might be the greatest gift. Four months before they auditioned for MasterChef Canada, they were rejected from participating in CBC’s the Great Canadian Baking Show.
“I feel like [auditioning to MasterChef Canada] is such a good example of ‘Don’t worry about failing, keep trying, because you never know what might happen,” they said.
Crawford said not making it to the Great Canadian Baking Show allowed them to have incredible experiences in MasterChef Canada. During the show, judge Claudio Aprile, a celebrity chef, restaurateur and cookbook author they admired, told Crawford they have “talent to burn.”
“I’ve just admired his work and his [chefing] for more than a decade, and to hear those words through his mouth directed to my ears felt surreal,” said Crawford.
Crawford said they discovered things about themselves they didn’t know before through participating in the show.
“The most valuable thing I learned while being [on MasterChef Canada] was that I could take care of myself under very stressful conditions,” they said.
“Not only could I take care of myself, I could do it so well that I could have an extreme amount of fun under stressful conditions.”
For the final round, Crawford had to prepare a three-course meal under three hours. It included fancy ants on a log with poached figs and blue cheese mousse, mary’s little lambs and cereal with chocolate soil, puffed rice and tea-smoked milk.
The amateur chef said their final round was both scary and ‘a perfect day.’
“It was so wildly poetic and beautiful that I knew I couldn’t have anything other but a wonderful time,” they said.
“Things can be scary and wonderful at the same time. It was such a nice thing to learn.”