Matthew Astorga may be out of the running for top cook in the MasterChef Canada kitchen, but don’t expect this to slow him down.
Following a gruelling Pressure Test on the tv show, which aired last weekend, judges eliminated the Pitt Meadows design consultant.
The up-and-coming chef watched his final moments in the MasterChef Canada TV spotlight on Sunday, surrounded by friends, family, and fans of all ages at S + L Kitchen & Bar restaurant in Langley.
“I was happy to be there during my elimination to show these kids that winning isn’t everything and you can still make your dreams come true regardless of how well you do in a competition. I was happy I could be that role model for them,” Astorga told the Langley Advance.
During the episode, Astorga and his two competitors were presented with one of the toughest challenges in MasterChef Canada history – cooking for 13 of Canada’s most influential chefs.
Presented with the same 13 ingredients the home cooks received their first Mystery Box Challenge of the season, and the trio had only 90 minutes to create 16 individual plates.
Astorga served up butter poached Arctic char with pickled vegetables and carrot purée, and received praise for his presentation.
“Cooking for 13 of Canada’s most celebrated chefs was a great experience. I thought I was going to be more nervous than I actually was. I put together a dish I was very proud of,” Astorga recalled.
In the end, however, he was not the Mystery Box Challenge winner, and competed once more during the episode for the second and final spot in the finale.
Both Astorga and his competitor faced a high-stakes pressure test that required them to recreate three modern citrus-infused desserts. The dishes they had to replicate were a white chocolate ganache, a lime choux with crunchy coconut sable, and a matcha green tea tart.
While Astorga struggled at various points throughout the challenge, he presented the judges with his three desserts, but forgot to place his grapefruit loaf croutons on his chocolate ganache. After taking into account the accuracy of the replications, the plating, and the taste, of both competitors, the judges announced that Astorga was out of the running.
“What did me in is my Achilles heal in the competition, replication. I definitely excel at creating my own food but found replication a bit more difficult for me,” the 25-year-old digital consultant from Pitt Meadows explained.
Looking ahead, Astorga’s future is apparently bright, as word of his elimination has been downsized by a newer announcement – that he’ll be the new corporate chef for the Joseph Richard Group (JRG).
Astorga joins the ranks of last year’s MasterChef champ and JRG corporate chef David Jorge, and executive chef Andy Slinn, and together the trio will be redefining the dishes at the public houses, as well as develop a menu for an exciting new project – a new restaurant opening this fall called Sudo Asian Kitchen.
Astorga said he’ll take what he learned during the TV show competition into his new endeavour with JRG.
Through the competition “I discovered that I handle pressure very well,” he said. “I was able to keep calm through such intensity and I also learned that I am a very strong individual. But mostly, I left with a greater understanding of how to think and cook like a chef.”
Among the S+L establishments are at least three in Langley: S+L Kitchen & Bar, Townhall Langley, and Oak & Thorne Neighbourhood Public House.