MasterChef Canada contestant Danielle Cardozo may have been eliminated on March 24, but her culinary career is just beginning.
Back in Cranbrook after her elimination visit to radio programs and talk shows in Toronto, Danielle sat down with the Townsman to talk about how she is leveraging her appearance on the reality cook-off series to spark a career in the culinary world.
When she finished filming MasterChef last October, the first thing Danielle did was approach Heidi Romich at the Heid Out about a part-time sous chef position at the restaurant. In November, she began working two nights a week “on the line”.
Cardozo has a “day job” at ?aq’am (St. Mary’s Band).
“I noticed online that she was hiring an executive chef. I said, I can’t take that role because it’s a full-time commitment, but I’d definitely do sous and dish design,” said Danielle.
“It’s been an amazing opportunity for me, and has really helped to share my experience with MasterChef Canada. Heidi has been instrumental in supporting my ambitions.”
It was at the Heid Out that Danielle hosted viewing parties for MasterChef Canada each week, where the kitchen served up a version of the dish Danielle could be seen cooking on the show.
“It was neat how excited people got about it, especially when it was my cheesecake or the salmon Wellington, because those were the winning dishes,” she said.
Danielle also approached Chef Dave Bohati at Market Calgary during a visit there last year.
“I went on a restaurant tour one weekend – I went to Calgary and checked out about seven different restaurants. My friend Dan said, you definitely have to check out Market,” said Danielle. “So I went and introduced myself as one of Dan’s friends.
“At that time I couldn’t tell (Bohati) I was on the show. I just said I was really interested in learning about the culinary industry. We started chatting and kept in touch. He said I was welcome to ask him questions. It just evolved from there.”
It led to a collaboration dinner on March 23 where Bohati and Danielle together worked out a menu, and served it to guests at Market. It was a small dinner, but gave Bohati the time to demonstrate techniques to Danielle.
“Dave was really wonderful. I knew if he was going to be my mentor, it would have to be someone I trust and who trusts in me,” she said.
She even served a dessert that was a take on the baked Alaska that saw Danielle sent home in MasterChef’s 10th episode.
“Cake, ice cream, meringue. We did not bake the ice cream,” she said. “It was for my own satisfaction.”
She followed up that experience one week later with a much larger event – serving a high-end five-course meal for 67 guests in Sparwood.
The Elk Valley event was held at Danielle’s father’s restaurant, Funky’s Pizzeria. And it was a family affair: she served the meal – including courses such as beef tartare with parsnip crisps and crostini – with the help of her sister, brother, father and stepmother.
“I got pretty teary at the end of the night. All five of us walked out going, man, I can’t wait to do that again.”
Now Danielle is excited to head to Israel in two weeks’ time to train under acclaimed chef Alexander Lachnish in his kitchen, Lab 2.0.
“It’s not a restaurant; it’s a food lab where he experiments with different types of food.”
Chef Lachnish will spend two weeks with Danielle, demonstrating new techniques in molecular gastronomy – such as spherification, where solids are turned to liquids and then transformed to resemble a different food.
“It’s pretty much the science behind food, things you wouldn’t typically do at home,” she said.
Lachnish will work with Danielle to create 10 lessons on molecular gastronomy that Danielle will post on her new blog.
The website was launched the day after Danielle was eliminated. She worked with local professionals Genex Marketing, Chad St. Pierre Photography, Velvet Moss and Ginjer Jar and HM Productions to put the website together.
“I am extremely dedicated to supporting the local economy. If I can buy something in Cranbrook, I will,” she said.
“It was amazing to me how they all worked together so collaboratively. And I wouldn’t have been able to do that if they weren’t all local.
“All I had to do was show up. And the result — it was exactly what I wanted.”
The website launches Danielle’s new brand, Taste Life.
“Taste Life is about learning and loving food and life. It’s a place where home cooks like myself can learn about ingredients and cooking techniques. The blog will have a variety of categories for multilevelled cooks. As a mom of three I can appreciate quick, affordable, yet delicious meals. As a business woman, I like to have recipes that impress my dinner party guests. As an aspiring culinary entrepreneur, I want to learn about techniques that go beyond your everyday kitchen. Taste Life will provide recipes, lessons, and resources that address all of those areas.”
You can find Taste Life at www.daniellecardozo.ca.