Two Pinoy-Canadians in top three finalists of MasterChef Canada

Community News & Features Jun 10, 2016 at 5:08 pm
Matthew Astorga of Pitt Meadows, BC

Matthew Astorga of Pitt Meadows, BC

By Mila Astorga-Garcia

TORONTO–Two Filipino-Canadians have made it to the top three finalists in the third season of “MasterChef Canada,” a CTV culinary reality show.

They are Matthew Astorga of Pitt Meadows, British Columbia and Jeremy Senaris of Winnipeg, Manitoba. The two will vie with Mary Berg of Toronto for the much-coveted MasterChef Canada title, which includes a prize of Cdn $100,000, among other things.

The reality contest picks the best home cook to earn the title of MasterChef Canada 2016, at the end of a series of rigorous kitchen challenges that put to test the contestants’ culinary skills, innovation, creativity and performance while under pressure. Their culinary creations are then judged by top food connoisseurs, Chefs Michael Bonacini, Claudio Aprile and Alvin Leung, for taste and presentation.

The remaining three contenders – Astorga, Senaris and Berg — were chosen from the original top 40 finalists from all over the country. On Feb. 14, 2016, during MasterChef Canada Season 3 show launch, the top 40 list was pared down to the top 14. Succeeding episodes further narrowed down the contenders to the top13, then 12, and so on and so forth, with individual eliminations culminating the weekly segments of the show. MasterChef airs Sunday night at 7 p.m. (Eastern Time) on CTV.

Astorga, 25, is a digital design consultant who loves cooking. Born in Makati, Philippines, his family came to Canada when he was five.

Astorga says he was introduced into cooking by his parents who had shown him that “love and happiness can be expressed through food and that there is no better way of showing it (than) by preparing delectable food and sharing it,” according to a story authored by Cristina of Momsiecle.com, and published in Pinoy-Canada.com.

His profile in MasterChef Canada describes him as “completely self-taught in the kitchen.”

Jeremy Senaris of Winnipeg, Manitoba

Jeremy Senaris of Winnipeg, Manitoba

“Matthew has a love for cookbooks and is inspired by ingredients, letting them dictate what he is going to cook that day. Matthew enjoys cooking with fresh produce and ingredients and spends time at farmers’ markets because he enjoys seeing where his food comes from,” the profile says, also quoted in a published article in ABS-CBNnews.com.

Senaris, 32, is a residential plan examiner with the City of Winnipeg. His parents migrated to Canada from the Philippines in the 70’s. Though born and raised in Canada, Senaris has acquired strong Filipino influences, including love for Filipino dishes, which he cooks with ease and flair.

An article also by Cristina published in Momsiecle.com tells about Senaris’s introduction to cooking:

“His mom has always been his inspiration especially when it comes to cooking.  His fondest memories of his mother are those times that he spent with her in the kitchen when she prepares the food for their family. Unfortunately, Jeremy’s mom suffered from cancer and they lost her in 2008, since then Jeremy has been trying to recreate all of the amazing food that his mom used to cook for them.

“ For Jeremy, cooking is also a way for him to showcase his creativity. Since most of what he learned to cook is from his mom, he is expert in Filipino dish, but he considers his way of preparing and cooking his dish as modern style Filipino food, which has a twist of the traditional Filipino dish with North American (Canadian) influences,” the article adds.

Both Astorga and Senaris have displayed remarkable culinary prowess in preparing dishes of international influences during the various weekly MasterChef segments. It was only in the latest segment aired June 5, 2016, that finalists were specifically asked by the judges to prepare a favorite dish from their own culture.

Astorga prepared adobo using quail as the principal ingredient, while Senaris cooked Kare-kare with oxtail, both dishes of which got the judges’ approval for taste and presentation.

MasterChef Canada Season 3 Top 40 contestants

MasterChef Canada Season 3 Top 40 contestants

When asked by Momsiecle.com why the Filipino-Canadian home cooks decided to join the MasterChef Canada contest, they replied:

Astorga’s response: “MasterChef Canada is the hardest thing you can do in the culinary industry and going through hard things produce great results and growth. Building a brand in the culinary industry has always been a dream of mine, but I haven’t had the time.  MasterChef Canada is the ultimate test and winning this season would definitely give me that validation to quit my business and start building my food empire!”

Senaris’s response: “I was always a fan of the show and I knew that if I ever joined, I would be a heavy hitter. I would be a contender. Everyone will have to wait and see if I was right about that!”

MasterChef Canada will next air again on Sunday, June 12, coincidentally with Philippine Independence Day, at 7 p.m. on CTV. Viewers will find out if any or both of the Filipino-Canadian contenders will make it to the two remaining finalists to vie for the coveted title. Both Astorga and Senaris face a very strong contender in Berg, a talented and creative Irish-Canadian cook.

Last year, British Columbian, David Jorge won the MasterChef Canada title.

(Mathew Astorga is a distant grandnephew of the author.)