Whoa, Nelly, that was a tough one.
Cranbrook's MasterChef Canada contestant, Danielle Cardozo, was forced to cook with beef tongue in Monday's seventh episode — and she came away smiling.
As this episode of the CTV reality cook-off series began, the home cook contestants were shown a picture of their childhood selves and instructed by the judges to prepare a dish inspired by their memories of that age.
In Danielle's photo, she was sitting on a dock holding a fish.
"That photo was taken at Loon Lake in Grasmere," Danielle told the Townsman. "It was my family's favourite camp spot that we went to each year."
Although her dish wasn’t shown in the episode, Danielle cooked a lentil and pancetta salad with spiced prawn.
“I loved the dish,” she said. “Unfortunately, it wasn’t enough to impress the judges. But I am still proud of it.”
The best dish was prepared by Ontario’s Eric Chong, who made Chinese barbecue pork with noodles. For winning the challenge, Eric was safe from the next elimination challenge, and he was given a preview of the food his fellow contestants would be tasked with preparing: a top to tail Alberta cow. What’s more, Eric was allowed to choose which of his competitors cooked with which part of the animal.
Straightaway, he singled out Danielle and Kelowna’s Kaila Klassen for the two most vom-inducing cuts: the tongue and the brains.
“I thought for sure Eric would have my back,” Danielle said. “We were pretty tight throughout the competition, and still are. I talk to him every day. When I saw that he chose tongue for me, I knew he had a target on me. I had no clue why my close friend would do that, except that he obviously saw me as competition.
“During the competition, he told me he wasn’t gunning for me and he gave me what was remaining from his choices. I laughed (Monday), as he texted me and apologized. He knew the truth would come out that he was gunning for me. I have serious respect for Eric; he played the game well in both a culinary sense and a social sense. How can you get mad at good game play?”
Meanwhile, faced with a cut of beef she’d never cooked before, Danielle was freaking out.
“I was scared. Straight up scared. Beef tongue? Really, Eric? I had no clue. Never seen it or touched it before in my life. I tried to take that awful layer of skin off it and it wouldn’t budge. I could barely cut through it.
“The only thing I knew was that tough meat can be cooked in a pressure cooker in a significantly reduced amount of time. The problem? I have never used a pressure cooker before. I have to laugh because I think I had the judges a little nervous. I had no clue what I was doing with that piece of equipment, and used improperly it can be extremely dangerous.”
But thankfully, she managed to pull it off, serving slices of beef tongue beside a beet salad. While it wasn’t an inspiring dish, judge Claudio Aprile said the tongue was cooked well. Danielle was safe.
Things didn’t look so rosy for three of the other home cooks who had arguably three of the easiest cuts. Dale Kuda’s tomahawk steak was blue raw when he served it; Mike Green’s liver had oxidised and turned green, so the judges wouldn’t try it; and Dora Cote had made a stew from the beef cheeks that Aprile told her looked like barf. In the end, it was Dora – who has been somewhat of a nemesis to Danielle in the competition – who was cut from the program.
“I, like everyone else, was surprised to see Dora go on the beef challenge,” said Danielle. “An Alberta plumber goes home on Alberta beef — there’s something a little ironic about that!
“For anyone who knows me, it’s no surprise that Dora and I weren’t exactly best friends. So was I sad to see her go? No, not at all. At the same time, I didn’t see her as competition, and you’re always hoping someone strong will go home.”
Meanwhile, Danielle continues to prepare her dishes at the Heid Out in Cranbrook each Monday night for a popular viewing party.
“I served both my prawn, lentil, and pancetta salad; as well as my roasted beet and beef tongue salad. They were a hit. I can’t wait to serve next week’s dish to the community again,” she said.