Winnipeg home cook Mike Green says it was his brother-in-law who encouraged him to audition for Masterchef Canada.
"I love cooking," said Green, who is the food dude on CBC Radio and Manitoba SCENE, "but you watch those culinary shows on TV and you think, 'I could do that,' but are you ever going to actually apply to do so?"
His brother-in-law filled out the application form and filmed Green cooking for 10 people at his family cottage. That video was submitted as his audition piece.
Then Green got the call. He had a one-hour phone interview on the spot.
"They literally ask you everything about everything — about your personal life, what your story is, what your cooking style is, dishes," he said.
He was then invited to participate in the first round of auditions for Manitoba and Saskatchewan contestants. The challenge was to create a dish served at room temperature.
He said he noticed the others had prepared cold soups, sandwiches and cold proteins, such as ceviche. Green stood out from the pack with a breakfast dish. He served spelt-flour pancakes topped with a poached pluot (a plum hybrid), vanilla-infused cream cheese with mint served with a sherry vinegar reduction, accompanied by candied bacon made with maple syrup and smoked paprika.
"My whole idea was to tell a little story behind every ingredient," he said.
His dish was good enough to get him on a plane to Toronto for the next round.
"It was really strange in the fact you didn't know what was going to happen until you got there," he said. "Then you realized that whole contract you signed is really quite for real. They literally took away your phone at the airport. You're essentially cut off from the outside world and you're going to be on this television show."
Green is now one of 50 non-professional chefs from across Canada competing on the show.
He admits that the process was very stressful right from the moment he walked into the imposing studio for the first time.
"When you're cooking, you're usually cooking at home, you're in your element, you're using your own knives, your own gear, and no one's watching you. That was definitely the most nerve-wracking thing — as soon as the cameras are rolling, you have to do your audition dish."
Green's audition dish was pan-seared Arctic char with ratatouille-infused quinoa and basil/arugula oil sauce.
He was given 60 minutes to prepare the dish, then five minutes to finish it in front of the judges. We'll have to find out if he makes it to the next round by watching the show.
Watch Masterchef starting Jan. 20 on CTV at 7 p.m. CT.