Yarmouth County’s Alyssa LeBlanc had to turn in her white apron last week, but she made a lasting impression during her time competing on CTV’s MasterChef Canada.
Said the judges about LeBlanc after she was eliminated from the competition, “Your indomitable spirit and your beaming smile will be missed in this kitchen.”
LeBlanc was visibly emotional when she was told her journey in the kitchen was ending.
“I just want to thank everybody involved with this,” she said during the May 13 episode. “I never thought I’d step foot in this kitchen.”
She later said in the episode, “I am so proud of what I accomplished here. I walked into the MasterChef kitchen not really knowing what to do with my life, but I know what I want to do with my life now. I’m walking out with fire in me, ready to fulfill my dream of working in this industry.”
LeBlanc, who comes from Tusket, Yarmouth County, and fellow Nova Scotian contestant Jenny Miller from Havre Boucher, NS, had both been eliminated from the competition the previous week, but in a surprise twist were told they would be given a chance for survival. The redemption episode aired May 13, although neither contestant survived the ‘Knife fight’ themed episode.
Four home cooks – which included two that had been previously eliminated from the competition – competed in a series of timed knife skill rounds where one would get a spot back in the kitchen. LeBlanc was knocked out of the competition in the first of the four rounds. She stated that the pressure had gotten to her and she hadn’t managed her time properly. She had also nicked herself with a knife, which chewed up valuable minutes as she was attended to by the show’s medic.
It goes without saying that LeBlanc was a fan favourite back home. Viewing parties have been held Monday nights at The Tusket Falls Brewing Company, where LeBlanc, who is also a musician, plays on a regular basis, in addition to supplying food to the brewery through her involvement with the Speakeasy Supper Club.
LeBlanc displayed her get ‘er done attitude – along with her ode to plaid – throughout the show, beginning with the Season 6 premiere episode where she not only introduced the judges, and much of Canada, to rappie pie, but she pulled off the dish in 45 minutes – astonishing even her own Acadian hometown.
“Shocking, I know. I didn’t think it was possible either, but I pulled out a whole lot of cooking tricks for that one,” she had said at the time.
Yarmouth County musician Simon LeBlanc even penned a song called ‘45-Minute Rappie Pie’ that he took to YouTube in her honour.
Slamming a giant turkey onto her cutting board was another memorial moment for LeBlanc’s fans early on the show during a cooking challenge involving protein packed meats and fish.
Another dish she prepared with a notable hometown flavour was lobster poutine.
She survived several intense, and pressure-filled challenges – including team challenges that involved, in three hours, making an appetizer and main dish for 121 guests attending a Caribbean-inspired wedding; and preparing a hot lunch and dessert for a school population of 161 kids at Rotherglen Elementary School in Oakville, Ontario in two hours. LeBlanc was a lean, mean cheese-grating machine as her team prepared their pizzas for the kids.
In another episode when the home-cooks could play it safe with known ingredients or take a risk with a mystery box, LeBlanc opted for the unknown and made fish tacos with the ingredients she had been supplied with.
And while she entertained viewers with her culinary skills, her facial expressions throughout the episodes – displaying surprise, relief, jubilation and a range of other emotions – also kept viewers smiling and relating to her.
In a Q&A with the show following her elimination, LeBlanc was asked: ‘Was there an element of appearing on MasterChef Canada’ that was harder than you thought it would be, or harder than it looks on TV?” Her response: “It was extremely hard to see my fellow home cooks not succeed at something. We all just wanted the best for each other and didn’t want to see anyone fail. There were so many more emotions and tears than expected. I had no idea we would end up this close, but we are now one big ol’ family and it’s truly amazing.”
Asked what she sees in her future from a cooking standpoint, LeBlanc said, “I hope to just keep learning and growing as a home cook. It’s so exciting to constantly be learning new things and flavours. I hope to be able to travel the world and learn more by eating! Eventually I would like to open my own little cabin-style restaurant and serve things I hunt, fish, and grow.”
Commenting later on her own Facebook page LeBlanc said: “I want to thank everyone from the bottom of my heart for the amazing love and support, I appreciate it so much!
“My time there certainly wasn’t easy, but I wouldn’t of traded it for the world, my life is now changed forever!” she added. “I never thought I would be on my favorite tv show in a million years, it’s a dream come true! Follow your dreams people, you never know unless you try!”
MasterChef Canada will air on Monday nights on CTV until a winner is declared.