Twin sisters Narida and Marida Mohammed enjoy cooking mainly Caribbean-themed dishes.
When Marida’s best friend saw an open casting call for “MasterChef Canada, she encouraged the sisters to enter, knowing fully they would do well in the culinary competition because of the tasty dishes they have prepared for her and other friends over the years.
They did not disappoint.
With nearly 3,000 hopefuls applying and almost 500 home cooks auditioning at the open call inTorontolast August at the downtown InterContinental Hotel, the Mohammeds emerged among the Top 50 candidates that will appear in the premiere Canadian episode on January 20 at 8 p.m. on CTV.
At the open call, applicants delivered a prepared dish.
Narida’s signature dish was tomato choka with baigan (eggplant), choka roti and fresh avocado while Marida presented fried bake with red snapper, pineapple chow, fresh radishes, purple cabbage slaw and cucumber scotch bonnet, tamarind and chadon beni sauces.
“Even though we have been cooking for years, the audition was an overwhelming and emotionally-draining experience,” Narida said. “But, at the end of the day, we knew we had it in us to come up with flavoured and delicious dishes reflecting our heritage that would appeal to the judges’ taste.”
The judges include culinary experts Michael Bonacini, Alvin Leung and Claudio Aprile regarded as one ofCanada’s most innovative and creative chefs.
Marida was the first twin to be notified that the sisters had made the Top 50.
“I had just landed inLos Angeleswith a friend for vacation on August 20 when Marida called to say we both made it,” recalled Narida who also has a passion for acting. “About two minutes later, I received a call from the producers confirming what my sister had related. I was shocked, but elated for both of us. This experience did more than bring us closer together. We have always being extremely close. What it did was made us realize we cannot do without one another.”
Raised inSan Fernandowhich is in southwestTrinidad, the twins were turned on to cooking by their parents.
“We grew up watching our mother cook all kinds of appealing dishes while our father, who lived next door and owned a rum shop, also enjoyed cooking,” said Narida who is a fitness trainer. “Our passion for cooking came from them and from watching the Food Network.”
Older sister Areeda Mohammed runs a catering service – The Spice is Right – out of herSudburyresidence while another sister Sherida Mohammed plans to open a restaurant in T & T where she resides.
In 1995, the twins migrated toSudburyand attendedLasalleSecondary Schooland Laurentian University before moving toTorontonine years ago. Marida studied law and justice while Narida pursued psychology.
“Even though we love cooking and Narida likes acting, out mom does not believe those are real jobs,” said Marida. “She has always encouraged us to educate ourselves.”
The youngest of six children, the twins lived together for nearly six years inTorontountil Marida and her partner of eight years produced a daughter who is now three years old.
With a love for food, the twins are considering launching high-end restaurants in the city,Sudburyand possibly T & T.
“We are looking at something that will be fancy and elegant providing traditionalCaribbeancuisine that’s refined and healthy,” said Marida. “It’s something we are working on along with having a cooking show.”
The sisters, who reside a few hundred metres apart, have not decided where they are going to celebrate the January 20 audition.
“We would like to do it in front of as much family and close friends as possible,” they said. “Of course, there is going to be food prepared by us and something to drink, but we have not decided on a location as yet. Our mom, brother and sister are inSudburyand we would love them to be part of the event if possible.”
The Mohammed twins are among four Caribbean-born immigrants in the Top 50.
Ottawa-based social worker Sparkle Davis, who grew up in T & T with her father, and Jamaican-born Fabian Suckoo, who migrated toCalgaryfour years ago and is a merchandiser, are the others. His signature dish is ackee and saltfish served with boiled dumplings and plantain while Davis – who aspires to own a Caribbean-style restaurant and produce a cookbook – offered puff pastry fruit infused desert with vanilla buttermilk frosting.
As friends and family cheer on the amateur cooks, only those with the most mouth-watering dishes will move on in the competition. Week Three of the series and the first elimination round will air immediately following Super Bowl XLVIII on Sunday, February 2.
“We searched the country and are confident these Top 50 home cooks are the best this country has to offer,” said CTV programming & sports president, Phil King. “The production team selected amateur chefs of all ages and vocations who are ready to showcase their passion, talent and drive as they cook for the right to be the first-ever Canadian MasterChef.”
The winner will receive a $100,000 cash prize.