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'We're so proud:' MasterChef Canada contestants at premiere with family, friends

Felix Fudge, Mike Schroder and Layla Kelly band together as they and their loved ones gathered to view the premiere episode of MasterChef Canada's fifth season, on which they competed for final spots in the show's top 12 home cooks.
Felix Fudge, Mike Schroder and Layla Kelly band together as they and their loved ones gathered to view the premiere episode of MasterChef Canada's fifth season, on which they competed for final spots in the show's top 12 home cooks. - Sara Ericsson

Mike Schroder, Layla Kelly and Felix Fudge talk excitement, feeling nervous and support from loved ones

PORT WILLIAMS – Three contestants on this year’s MasterChef Canada stood with family and friends cheering them on as the show’s premiere took off April 3.

Mike Schroder, Layla Kelly and Felix Fudge gathered with their families and friends at Wayfarer’s Ale Brewery to watch the show on which they each vied for a spot among the top 12 home cooks.

Each contestant sat with their groupies in the minutes leading up to the big moment, talking about what it was like being on the show, and how excited yet nerve-wracking the prospect of seeing themselves on TV still was.

Mike Schroder with father Joe, mother Mary and wife Michelle.
Mike Schroder with father Joe, mother Mary and wife Michelle.

 “This was such an amazing opportunity for the three of us. It was stressful, because you’re thrown right in… but so, so cool. Being here with them to watch this is so special,” said Kelly.

‘I told him it was his calling’

Schroder’s father, Joe, mother, Mary, and wife, Michelle sat with countless family members and friends as they readied themselves for the episode, with many clapping Schroder on the back and offering a big congratulation as he made his rounds to say hi to everyone.

“It’s good to see a room full of family and friends and be able to share this moment with them,” he said.

His father said he wasn’t at all surprised his son was chosen as a finalist on the show.

“I’m thrilled. I told him this is his calling, that he should do it for a living, but he loves cooking at home. That’s what works for him,” he said.

His mother Mary sounded excited and a little nervous, in shock at the fact her son was about to appear on a national network.

“It’s definitely something I never thought I’d be doing – watching my son on TV,” she laughed. His wife, Michelle, said she was also feeling nervous ahead of the episode, but happy Schroder was able to show off his cooking skills.

“He’s always wanted to do this kind of thing, and when he got it, he was a little doubtful in himself, but now he’s seen all that’s come of it,” she said.

‘No one with as much drive’ as Layla Kelly

“I’m feeling a little excited but also nervous, and I can’t tell anyone why!” said Kelly as she and her friends sat together, eyes up, as the final minutes before the episode aired ticked by.

Kelly, the rockstar chef, sat with old friends she’s known her whole life, like Braylene Ibey, and new friends, including Garrett McMullen, who joined her while she was on tour in Quebec promoting her music.

Layla Kelly with friends Stephen Steele, Braylene Ibey and Garrett McMullen.
Layla Kelly with friends Stephen Steele, Braylene Ibey and Garrett McMullen.

“I don’t know anyone with as much drive as Layla. She had a five-year plan and has got it done in two – she’s amazing,” said Ibey.

“She instigates and supports us to further ourselves, so it’s great to be here and see her plans coming to life.”

McMullen said he feels like he’s with a famous person every time he goes somewhere with Kelly, who’s brand is on the rise, with MasterChef Canada, CBC Searchlight and #SOSNS bring just a few of the many projects she’s involved with.

“I’ve known for a bit Layla would be on the show, but now getting to see her on TV and cooking will be really interesting,” he said.

Excitement for what will follow

Like the others, Fudge was also feeling nervous and excited as he awaited the episode with his crew, which included partner Stella, mother Lynn Fudge, and family friend Jackie Nixon.

So nervous, he said, that he felt urged to bake a loaf of bread earlier that day. And, of course, it was a delicious one.

His anxiousness, which he said ebbed once he settled into the viewing event, came from thinking of what’s to come once the show has wrapped up.

Felix with his mother, Lynn and partner, Stella.
Felix with his mother, Lynn and partner, Stella.

“It’s eerie, because now that I’m taking in the energy from everyone, I’m calm. But there are responsibilities that come after the show, for us as spokespeople, and I’m ready for that,” he said.

His mother is equally proud of her son, who has carved his own way to success.

“It’s quite an experience for him, and I’m very proud of him. What can I say – I’m just so proud, and it’s all been his doing,” she said.

Fudge’s honourary aunt Nixon, who’s known him since birth, said she was eager to see his face on the silver screen.

“It’s going to be exciting to see him on TV. Hopefully this will lead somewhere he wants to go,” she said.

Note: following the viewing party, all three contestants were eliminated from the competition as the home cooks competed for spots in the show’s top 12. The remaining home cook representing Nova Scotia is Andy Hay, a small business owner from Dartmouth.

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