It was only last summer where Canada learned the fate of Mary's newfound career, and it's safe to say a lot has happened ever since winning the title. "So when I first went on this journey they sort of ask you what your food dream is, and to be honest I always wanted to do some sort of catering or I wanted to work behind the scenes like for a magazine developing recipes. I felt like that would be really fun. I love writing so I felt like that would encompass my love for writing and of food," Mary explains. "But since winning Masterchef I did do some catering, but the whole TV world has really taken off. It's been an unexpected whirlwind, but I love every second of it. I do a lot of stuff with Bell Media, with Your Morning, the Marilyn Dennis Show, and The Social."
Not only is Mary in front of the camera a lot nowadays, but I soon find out she's going to become a published author and have her very own cookbooks. She excitedly reveals, "I just got signed on by Random Penguin House for two cookbooks which is a childhood dream come true! I still can't really believe it. Even when I'm slogging away trying to work my butt off to get everything done it's still like a pinch me moment."
Juggling between writing, developing recipes, talk-show duties, and now her very own TV show cannot be easy, and if you've been watching TV lately you are bound to have seen some of Mary's commercial work she's been doing as well. "Yeah, I've done some of that too. And then this came along, an opportunity with BELL FIBE and Gusto TV. It's been so much fun! Everything happened so quickly, but it's been honestly so wonderful. I work so much harder than I ever did before, but I absolutely love every second of it. I don't have those Sunday nights where you're like... ughhh work tomorrow."
That thought might have come across Mary's mind once too many times at her previous job as an Insurance Broker, but as we find ourselves in this beautiful kitchen we are both reminded how far she's come in following her dream to pursue cooking. Diving in further to Mary's new cooking show, she reveals just exactly what "Mary's Big Kitchen Party" is all about.
"The show is based around me having kitchen parties which are my absolute favourite thing in the world. In my opinion it's not a real party until everyone ends up in the kitchen at some point. I know for me it's usually trying to dance around my friends standing in the kitchen, trying to prepare some food for them, and that's essentially like the premise of this show," Mary explains. "My friends all coming over to join me, maybe giving me a hand once in a while and enjoying the food and each other's company. Food is great, but so much better when it's enjoyed with people that you love."
When I was on set that day when Mary was shooting, that episode was seafood centric, so week by week there is going to be a new food theme that the episode revolves around. Mary adds that the themes give the show a foundation to work off of each week. "We got Halloween, Southern, today we were working on seafood. It's fun. It's something where you can kind of base your menu around and makes it a little easier to create."
Mary goes on by saying that her new cooking show is not necessarily the traditional cooking show we've all come to know. It's something that has never really been done before. "With Gusto's influence on it they are starting a dinner and a movie type of situation so what will happen is a movie is going to play, and my cooking show will air as interstitials in amongst the movie which is really neat."
With this episode being seafood focused, of course I had to ask her just what her favourite seafood dish to make at home is! Without hesitation Mary quickly states that it's ceviche. "I absolutely love making ceviche. In terms of like ease of input versus spectacular output ceviche is so, so fantastic. Something I didn't make today as it's a little bit heavier, I do love anything with lobster and tarragon. It's such a beautiful shellfish and with that tarragon it is so so good!" You know Mary ain't lying about her love for lobster because apparently her freezer is filled with it. "I actually just recently discovered in my freezer that I forgot I made some Lobster Ravioli that had a bunch of tarragon in it. Best discovery ever! I made this like about three months ago, totally forgot I had it in there. I was like what do I make for dinner.... perfect," Mary laughs.
As I mentioned earlier, I was so impressed with how natural Mary was in front of the camera. She is already a seasoned professional and has such a great presence on screen. One could only think that the experience of being in front of the cameras on national TV may have helped prepared and guided her through her new journey of becoming this darling TV personality.
Mary agrees. "Yeah, I genuinely think it did. I was so happy with the season that I was on. My other home cooks in my season from Jeremy, Veronica, Dr. Shaun, everybody was so wonderful and I learned so much from them just in terms of the kitchen and of being a weirdo kind of. It was so much fun doing that and just kind of getting to know the side of television where it wasn't particularly competitive which I know sounds funny because it was a competition, but we were all friends. We just wanted everybody to do the best we could, to show Canada what we could do. And I think that really helped me just be comfortable, not worry about competing against my friend. Just be comfortable cooking and doing what I love in front of cameras. You almost forget that they are even there."
As it turns out, Mary still considers many of her cast mates on her season she competed with as family and still keeps in contact with many of them. There's even a little munchkin from the guy who she had to beat in the finale to win the title she just adores. "Jeremy's little daughter is like my favourite baby on the face of this planet! She refers to me as Aunt Mary which I am very excited about. Makes me sound a lot older than I am," Mary giggles. I jokingly put out the idea of Mary becoming her God Mother and she whole-heartily agrees. "Oh gosh that would be fantastic! Yeah Jeremy... give me a call!"
So Jeremy, if you're reading this. The ball is in your court now.
"As for Veronica we still hang out all the time, we actually had Thanksgiving dinner together and it's a really, really close knit family. Again it was so, so wonderful being with those people and not feeling the pressure to kind of duke it out. It was just like lets cook some good food and have a good time. And that helped me here because I got to learn the TV side of things, learning about cameras and angles."
So what's next for Mary Berg besides this new cooking show? She's going to help pass on the torch and help mentor other hopefuls of becoming the next Masterchef Canada by being part of the audition process for the next season set to air soon on CTV.
Mary explains just how much fun she had at the Masterchef Canada auditions, however this time around she's on the other side. "I can't even explain to you the excitement you see in people's faces and the nervousness all at the same time. I experienced that completely. Like it was so funny seeing that from them because I knew exactly what they were feeling at that moment. You just got to drink it all in. It's terrifying. It's a very strange thing to do, to kind of put your life on hold and be like hey, I'm going to see if this is a thing I could actually do. And I'm so proud of everybody who did. I think it's going to be a really good season."