MasterChef Canada judges: 'Anybody can cook for chefs'

Celebrity chef judges of MasterChef Canada - (L-R) Claudio Aprile, Alvin Leung and Michael Bonacini...

Celebrity chef judges of MasterChef Canada - (L-R) Claudio Aprile, Alvin Leung and Michael Bonacini at the CTV building in Toronto on Monday April 21, 2014. Dave Abel/QMI Agency

Jim Slotek, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 6:32 PM ET

I face the troika of MasterChef Canada judges – Michael Bonacini, Claudio Aprile and Alvin Leung – and notice that “Demon Chef” Leung’s trademark blue hair is reduced to a few streaks.

So what’s the deal? Does he let his dye-job slide in the offseason? “The Leafs are out of the playoffs. I’m too f---ing pissed off (to wear blue),” he says, to laughs all around. (Raised in Scarborough, but worshipped in Hong Kong for his Michelin three-star resto Bo Innovation, Leung easily rattles off the handful of Chinese restaurants that amounted to “Chinatown” when the Leafs last won the Cup in ’67).

What they lack in temper compared their American MasterChef counterparts, they make up in chemistry and comic timing.

I mention to Bonacini that I recently ate at his restaurant Auberge du Pommier on a night out with my wife, and could not detect the taste of the fine Kraft™ products they endorse.

“You obviously didn’t have the staff meal,” Bonacini says, without missing a beat.

As for the kinder, gentler description, Leung takes umbrage. “You don’t call yourself the Demon Chef by being gentle. I am tough.” I remind him that top-16 finalist Ben Miner said he was “a great hugger.”

“I was trying to kill him,” Leung responds.

And Aprile did indeed show flashes of temper, being the chef most likely to toss a dish into the garbage. “I do that in real life. It gets expensive after a while,” the founder of Toronto’s Origin restaurant says.

Is there a fraternity among these guys, I wonder? “We eat at each other’s restaurants and copy,” Leung says. “And we are helpful to each other. If I phoned Michael and said, ‘I need $5,000,’ he’d give me $10,000.”

Bonacini laughs heartily. “You had me going there,” I say.

As the Final Four of MasterChef was whittled down Monday to two, the hosts were in a good mood, having received news that a second season of MasterChef Canada has been ordered. Applications for try-outs are now being accepted online.

“There’s no comparing us to the U.S. show,” Leung says. “We got 1.7 million viewers and we’re the number one show on Mondays.”

There’s no question that much of the appeal of the show is the audience at home that knows they could do a better job on a particular dish on a given day. People are still buzzing about the previous week’s ejection of Mike Green for cooking a “medium rare” steak that was still mooing.

“That was the pressure of the competition,” Bonacini says.

“I bet he’s cooked steak medium rare many times over.”

“The arrogance got him,” Aprile adds. “He was a bit of a diva.”

The celebrity chefs admit they are not mistaking the MasterChef home cooks for seasoned professionals, and take that into account. “I won’t mention names, but there’s a handful of the home cooks we’d hire in a heartbeat now,” Aprile says.

So, we ask, would you guys be the world’s worst dinner guests?

“Absolutely not,” Leung says. “That’s a myth. I mean, look what we’re eating,” he says, pointing to a bag of trail mix, some hummus and a diet 7-Up in front of him.

“For us to go to a simple meal cooked by an engineer, cooked by a plumber, cooked by someone not in the profession, for us it’s fine. We all started at home.

“Anybody can cook for chefs. I cooked for a three Michelin star chef when I was cooking at home (back when Leung was a sound engineer).

“He said some things that were very complimentary and I stupidly believed him and went on to open my restaurants.”

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