It’s on! MasterChef Canada has announced the names of the top 18 home cooks competing for a top prize of $100,000. Among them is Ottawa’s own Kimberly Fitzpatrick, a musician and screenwriter with a passion for cooking Asian fare (we’re still salivating over all those delectable dumpling photos on her Instagram account).
With the program set to air Monday, April 8 at 8 p.m. ET with a special two-hour premiere, City Bites Insider caught up with Fitzpatrick to get the behind-the-scenes scoop on how she got the nod to appear on MasterChef Canada and what it’s really like to cook for celebrity judges Michael Bonacini (O&B restaurant empire), Alvin Leung (Bo Innovation in Hong Kong), and Claudio Aprile (Copetin Restaurant & Bar).
The Ottawa Connection
Fitzpatrick was born and raised in Orleans, but moved to Toronto at 18 to pursue her musical career. She returned to the capital last November and, when not working on her music or writing (she recently finished a YA novel) and cooking up a storm, she has been reacquainting herself with the local food scene.
Of course, we had to ask for a few of her favourites. Yangtze is a family favourite that she’s known since childhood — “If I ever get married, I’m serving dim sum for our dinner!” Also on Fitzpatrick’s regular visit list right now: DiRienzo’s, Suzy Q, and Corner Peach.
Making the Cut on MasterChef Canada
“I’ve always had three loves in my life — fashion, music, and food — but I found food intimidating because it’s such a male-dominated industry,” says Fitzpatrick. It was her twin sister, Alex, who saw a commercial for MasterChef Canada and convinced Kimberly to take a shot. “She said to me, ‘Your food is amazing and half your Instagram posts are food. Just do it!’”
It’s fitting then, that when Fitzpatrick found out she’d made the cut she was with her sister. “It was really special to share that moment. She’s my biggest supporter, she made me do it, and she was right!”
Cooking From the Heart
Fitzpatrick’s background is Chinese, Irish, and Scottish, but it’s her huge extended Chinese family that has had the most profound impact on her culinary journey so far. “All my food memories are cooking with my grandma and my aunts and uncles. We’ve always surrounded ourselves with food.”
She also gathers inspiration from the food scene in California, which she visits regularly. “I like to incorporate California into Asian food to lighten it up.”
Impressing Celebrity Chefs
Asked what it’s like to cook for three such accomplished judges, Fitzpatrick simply says, “They have so much knowledge, how can you not be intimidated?” That said, “I might choose Claudio [Aprile] as the most intimidating. His stare is pretty scary — you just don’t know what he’s thinking.”
A vegetarian for a long time, Fitzpatrick was initially worried about cooking with meat, but once the competition kicked into gear it became a stressful-fun blur of thinking on her feet as each challenge was presented. “Cooking, for me, is a relaxing thing to do. But not so much when it’s a competition with a timer!”
And the Winner Is….
Obviously, Fitzpatrick can’t tell. Indeed, even her participation in the show was a well-kept secret until CTV announced the new season a couple of weeks ago. “I would be cooking dinner for friends and they’d say ‘This is so amazing. You really should think about working with food.’ I couldn’t say anything, but I’d be thinking, ‘Just you wait and see!’”
And if she wins the $100,000? “I’ve always had this idea of doing an immersive food and art travelling pop-up. I’d love to do that all around Canada.”