Jennifer Crawford is simultaneously surprised, and not, to have made it this far in MasterChef Canada.
It’s not a lack of humility, but rather an awareness that having made it to the show’s top 18 finalists meant there was a good chance of advancing to the end.
Crawford’s always been in it to win it, but says winning sometimes gets placed on the backburner on the show that has shown that contestants root for one another just as much – and if not more – than they root for themselves.
“That is not normally how you think about competition, but that is how it really was. Even when you were going head to head with people… you’d feel held by other people while competing against them,” said Crawford.
Contestants complete a series of culinary challenges in hopes of earning the title of Canada’s next MasterChef and clinching the $100,000 grand prize.
The defining moment for the competitor from Kingston was when fellow contestants Josh Miller and Cryssi Larocque finished cooking during the same challenge.
The entire group gathered in one massive bear hug, and Crawford felt focused on nothing other than that one happy moment, when the competition became secondary.
“It was how much everyone was showing up not just for themselves, but for each other – and that is incredibly moving,” said Crawford.
Because Crawford approached each cook like it was the finale, the increasing pressure the show typically places on contestants never really got to a boiling point.
“I knew so long as I didn’t get in the way of myself, that I kept up my approach to take it one cook at a time and leave it all on the plate. It seems to have paid off well so far.”
The show has, so far, been one big learning experience for Crawford, who found moments of fun amid all of the mayhem while remembering to be mindful of the small moments flying by.
Lessons were learned, even when it wasn’t immediately obvious that each tiny factor added up, exponentially growing the contestant’s skills.
“I learned so much about my own brain, and heart and hands, and what they are capable of when I just surrendered to what was happening. I trust myself, and that if you can manage to put fear on the backburner and be like, ‘I know how to do this,’ it’s really dazzling,” the 37-year-old said.
“Sometimes I felt like a spectator to my own cook, but then I managed to pull it off, and I felt like a force took over and I was just along for the ride.”
Crawford’s social media following exploded since joining the show. Support has poured in from old friends, partner Logan Aube, family and new acquaintances.
People have also expressed how Crawford’s gender identity, and how they’ve expressed it on the show, inspired them.
“Some of the messages I’m getting from other gender-creative people, specifically, being like, ‘Wow, this is really inspiring,’ are just so moving. My social media has become a place of such genuine connection with people, and I really hope that can continue,” said Crawford.
The show is now drawing to a close, but the cook said it is the beginning of something that’s grown beyond the confines of TV.
With appearances scheduled at upcoming cooking events in Halifax and other potential opportunities on the horizon, Crawford is in it to win it but taking things one step at a time as each experience unfolds.
“It feels like a big crescendo, like we’re just getting this big, magnificent end but it’s also a big, magnificent beginning,” said Crawford.
“It’s both at the same time, and it’s all really moving.”
The finale airs June 10 at a special time of 7 p.m. ADT on CTV.
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