By BILL HARRIS
Special to The Lede
From insurance broker, to MasterChef Canada winner, to hosting a new cooking show called MARY’S KITCHEN CRUSH, Mary Berg feels as if she’s living in a fairytale.
“Very much like Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz, I’ve landed here, and everything is much more colourful than it used to be – just like the movie!,” says Berg, who is excited for the debut of MARY’S KITCHEN CRUSH, Sunday, April 28 at 7 p.m. ET on CTV. A special bonus digital episode is also available to viewers following Sunday’s premiere on CTV.ca, the CTV app, and Crave.
We chatted with Berg about her thrilling new TV project, which showcases her engaging personality, and culinary skill, through the presentation of original recipes, each inspired by someone who has made a meaningful impact on her life.
Q: There is lots of food programming out there, but did you see a specific void? What makes your show unique?
Mary Berg: “For me, growing up, I wasn’t into sports, I wasn’t into any of that, but I would come home from school and flip through my mom’s old cookbooks. I would sit myself down and watch really instructional cooking shows, where it was very straightforward, like, ‘Today we’re cooking with pineapple,’ and then they would do three recipes with pineapple. We’ve kind of fallen away from that. I was on MASTERCHEF CANADA (Season 3 winner) and it was fantastic, but I feel there’s a little bit of a … not a void, but less focus on instruction in cooking shows now. So for this show, it’s a good mix of instructional, but also story, with my real life friends and family.”
Q: That’s interesting, because certainly the original idea of having cooking shows on TV at all was instruction.
Mary Berg: “Completely, and at the base of it, in my opinion, in the kitchen there are varying degrees of success. That success might be learning how to not burn a chicken. But in my mind that still is a successful endeavor, if you’ve learned what not to do, so next time you won’t do it. The kitchen is one of the few places in our lives where we can actually go in and, at the end of it, you’ll always come out with something. I love spending all day Sunday making an amazing, huge meal, but I understand that for most people, that’s not their idea of a good time. You have to be a certain type of person. But I think this show really kind of demystifies it. I want the reward to be so much greater than the actual input.”
Q: When you’ve been working on a show for a long time, you must really be looking forward to TV viewers actually seeing it.
Mary Berg: “I think we have done something really special, but I’m an anxious person to begin with, so my stomach is, half knot, half butterflies. It’s strange, it is like you’re opening a door into your life. The most personal part of my life is cooking and food. But I think it’s going to convey well, and I’m so excited for people to see what we’ve made.”
Q: What’s the biggest difference between your former profession - insurance - and hosting your own TV show?
Mary Berg: “Oh my gosh, no one calls me to yell at me anymore. Which I totally understood - insurance is something you don’t want to think about, until you need it.”
Q: However, if you work in TV long enough, eventually someone is going to yell at you.
Mary Berg: “But not every day.”