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Local MasterChef contestant relishes experience

Cryssi LaRocque finished fourth on MasterChef Canada, and has been working as a chef at Daytona's Restaurant for the past four months

THUNDER BAY - It was only half a year ago that Cryssi LaRocque was working in the aviation industry with no plans of a career change.

After a life-changing experience on MasterChef Canada, LaRocque reflected on her time on the show, and a new chapter at Daytona’s Restaurant & Sports Bar.

“Amazing, amazing, amazing,” she said. “I’m starting to get recognized more and more when I get groceries.”

For those following LaRocque’s journey on season six of MasterChef, her run came to end during the ninth episode that aired on Monday.

Out of the season’s 17 contestants, LaRocque finished fourth, and says her greatest sense of pride is with the city.

“I wanted to represent Thunder Bay to show our food scene is amazing, our people are kind… I wanted to make everybody proud. I’m very proud to be from Thunder Bay.”

After surviving and advancing through a number of challenges and elimination rounds, LaRocque was ousted during a dessert challenge.

LaRocque, who has fibromyalgia syndrome, experienced a flare-up the morning before the show.

“I had a lot of pain in my neck and numbness in my arms,” she said.

The challenge involved making an intricate chocolate sphere cake and LaRocque felt she was limited in her ability physically.

“At a certain point I almost wanted to say ‘I’m done,’” she said.

Instead of quitting, she approached the challenge with a different strategy, and while the judges loved the taste, the aesthetics didn’t quite cut it.

“Josh had a perfect sphere and mine was pretty ugly.”

Ultimately, it was the last dish LaRocque made on the show, but her resilience is something she’s proud of.

“At the end of the day I’m, still glad I put a plate forward.”

LaRocque said the experience helped her grow as a chef.

“I have never had a challenge that compares to any of the challenges I faced on MasterChef,” she said. “There’s a lot of things I did on the show that I would never normally try.”

Challenges such as mystery boxes, which requires contestants to invent a dish using a random selection of ingredients, helped expand her creativity.

“You see these ingredients and my mind just constantly went to my childhood, to the happiest time of my life. I just wanted to elevate those dishes.”

After her success on the show she landed a job back in Thunder Bay at Daytona’s four months ago. LaRocque said she’s looking forward to her new and exciting career path.

“This has proven to me that this is what I’m meant to do,” she said. “The last thing Chef Claudio (Aprile) said to me when we said goodbye was: ‘I better find you in a professional kitchen.’ I message him as soon as I got hired here.”

Michael Charlebois

About the Author: Michael Charlebois

Michael Charlebois was born and raised in Thunder Bay, where he attended St. Patrick High School and graduated in 2015. He attends Carleton University in Ottawa where he studies journalism.
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