MasterChef Canada had a rapt viewing audience in Hintonburg when CTV began airing the show in January. Local resident, Beth Lusigan, was watching her son, Ben Miner, in a competition to be named the best amateur home chef in the country.
“It was exciting to see him on TV,” says Lusigan. “He tries his hand at everything.”
Thousands of home chefs from across Canada auditioned for the popular franchise show. The best fifty contestants appeared in the January 20 opening episode, from which the final 16 were chosen. These chefs compete in individual and team-based challenges in hopes of escaping elimination and winning the $100,000 grand prize as well as the title of MasterChef Canada.
Miner was chosen as one of the top 16 home chefs in Canada, but was eliminated at the end of the third episode. Because contestants had all been sworn to secrecy, Lusigan was not prepared to see her son kicked out of the kitchen so soon. “It was quite a shock,” she says. “Tears flowed.”
But despite this disappointment, Lusigan couldn’t be more proud of her son. “I’m very proud of all that he’s accomplished,” she says. “He’s not scared of anything. He’ll try his darndest.”
For his part, Miner says the whole experience was “pretty amazing.” The opportunity to meet the show’s judges, Claudio Aprile, Michael Bonacini and Alvin Leung, was great and Miner really appreciated the feedback they gave him on his cooking.
While their assessment of his smelt fishcakes was not too positive (“This doesn’t make any sense!”), the comedian and host of SirusXM’s radio show ‘Comic Stripped’ said he has not given up on the small Canadian fish, and definitely not on culinary endeavors.
“I’ve been so busy with stand-up and radio that I forgot how much I love cooking.”
Lusigan knows that comedy and radio are her son’s “passions”, but she says his skill in the kitchen has always been impressive.
“He started cooking when he was about 12 or 13,” she recalls. “He would come home after school, watch those cooking shows, and then throw stuff into a pot.” He especially enjoyed cooking for his grandmother.
For his audition to MasterChef Canada, Miner made cereal and his own almond milk. “Nobody has ever got on the show by making cereal before,” Lusigan boasts.
Miner grew up in Hintonburg and attended Saint-François-d’Assise school. Though he moved to Toronto eight years ago, he still comes back to Ottawa often to visit his mom, his biggest fan and supporter.
“My mom worked incredibly hard to give me the best life I could have,” Miner says. “She’s always supported me one-thousand percent.”
Both mother and son are eager to sing each other’s praises. Lusigan points out that her son is “very kind-hearted” and often does comedy shows to raise funds for charities such as the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario.
As for MasterChef Canada, Miner is coy about how the series will end. When asked if he knows who won, he quickly answers, “The viewers.”