I came up with (the upside-down cake) in a dream. I do a lot of my brainstorming when I sleep.
—Marie Porter, chef
With her rapid-fire tongue, bright-blue hair, genius-level IQ and an ability to reconstruct complex dishes by taste, Marie Porter already stands out from the pack.
But it's her mango mojito upside-down cake she hopes will win her acclaim and a $250,000 U.S. prize.
That's the dessert the 33-year-old former Winnipegger made for MasterChef judges, including prickly celebuchef Gordon Ramsay, during her hour-long, on-camera audition in Los Angeles earlier this year.
Marie Porter baked her signature mango mojito upside-down cake for her MasterChef audition. (courtesy Marie Porter)
"I came up with (the upside-down cake) in a dream. I do a lot of my brainstorming when I sleep," says Porter, who was raised in Fort Garry and now lives with her husband in Minneapolis.
Her upside down cake is somewhat fitting, considering the whirlwind and upheaval she endured while filming the popular reality cooking competition.
Porter, who has an IQ of 157, was one of 100 top cooks (and the first Canadian) chosen from 40,000 entrants for the show, which pits home chefs in a multi-week battle for the cash.
Lack of food, sleep, a gruelling shooting schedule and seeing the faces of crushed fellow contestants still haunts Porter, who also has Aspberger's syndrome and panics in loud, crowded situations. "It was a chaotic environment," she says.
In anticipation of the chaos, Porter subjected herself to sensory training before flying to California. On Christmas Eve 2012, she spent four hours at Mall of America.
The immersion at the mall prepared her for MasterChef, says Porter, who entered the competition to help pay for the reconstruction of her home, which was severely damaged in a tornado in 2011.
During filming, Porter believes producers prodded her to induce an autism-related breakdown. She held it together but was so drained from the experience she slept four days straight after returning home.
"I really wanted to think a reality cooking show was better, but it's not," she says.
Still under contract, Porter can't reveal how well she did on the show but makes one admission.
"I am very happy with my placing." The new season of MasterChef airs Wednesday at 7 p.m. on CTV.