Cheeky decision sends Rocky chef home

The little beef cheek that did her in this week during MasterChef Canada “ain’t going to stop me,” said cooking show contestant Dora Cote of Rocky Mountain House.

The little beef cheek that did her in this week during MasterChef Canada “ain’t going to stop me,” said cooking show contestant Dora Cote of Rocky Mountain House.

Cote, a plumber and self-taught cook whose hearty dishes took her to the top 11 in the show, was sent home this week after the three MasterChef judges found her beef cheek stew below par. Acclaimed Canadian chef and judge Claudio Aprile wouldn’t even taste it, calling it akin to vomit.

“I was pretty shocked when he said it was barf. What a strong word ­— that blew me away and when it came out of his mouth, I knew I was done,” Cote said. “When they said it was the easiest cut, I thought, really, a beef cheek in 90 minutes? How is that the easiest cut? Maybe if I had all day to slow cook it.”

Cote, 37, grew up surrounded by a farming family and said she’d never cooked that cut of beef before.

“I’ve never even seen beef cheek in the grocery store.”

Cote’s 10 year-old son, Devyn, wasn’t pleased to hear his mom being called this week’s “worst” cook, said Cote.

“He really didn’t like that but we had a talk about it and I told him the world is now my oyster and we can do whatever we want and it’ll be OK,” she said. “I’m not bitter about it at all. I can’t believe how well I’ve done and to have come this far, with so much support. … The public are still tweeting about it!”

She was overwhelmed with all the support flooding in on Twitter and Facebook after her elimination, with some fans denouncing MasterChef Canada, calling the cut “heart0breaking.”

“I’m really feeling the love,” Cote said with her trademark hearty laugh.

There are now 10 contestants on the show, with Tammara Behl of Calgary the only Albertan still standing.

Presentation of her dishes was Cote’s biggest fear, she said, noting she came to the show with no chef experience and was used to slapping down solid meals quickly for her busy family and friends.

That being said, she wouldn’t trade the culinary competition experience for anything, she said.

“I took away so much: learning about so many different ingredients, techniques and to have that motivation to try new stuff, and know where to look for it. I didn’t understand what flavour profile meant and now I really do, and I enjoy it. So it’s elevated my cooking.”

One of her favourite moments remains when Aprile called her food “elegant” earlier in the show.

“I’m so used to being in the role of saying to myself, ‘Don’t be an overt woman so I can maintain respect in my male-dominated field,’ so to be called elegant was a compliment on so many levels,” she said.

Cote is now on the path to making one of her biggest dreams come true and said she could be mere weeks away from opening her own diner in Rocky.

“I’m just going over the final details with the owners. … I’m trying to keep it fairly vanilla; called something normal like DC’s Dining and Lounge, white text on black background and I’ve coined it ‘Canadian soulfood.’ ”

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