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MasterChef Canada's got (local) talent

Usually when reality TV shows air, their audience depends on the topic of the show.  People who dream of travel might go for The Amazing Race.  Former dancers like myself will tune in to So You Think You Can Dance.  Fans of feeling stupid will watch Jeopardy! while frustrated peeping Toms go for Big Brother.

And foodies may look forward to the MasterChef series.

This spring, Thunder Bay discovered on MasterChef Canada that we had one of our own in the competition.  Local resident Cryssi Larocque is on season six of MCC currently airing Mondays at 9pm on CKPR Thunder Bay.

Knowing that a neighbour was on the show surely encouraged more local viewers.  But I always get a little nervous about how they’ll be presented on these shows.  After all, if the contestant’s personality doesn’t stand out to the show’s producers or appeal to audiences, he or she won’t last long regardless of talent.

Fortunately, MCCan tends to let the activity in the kitchen and the dishes themselves build the drama – rather than creating pseudo-villains and artificial tension between the cooks.

And after several weeks of competition, Cryssi should be proud of herself.  Beyond her culinary creations which have impressed the judges and put her in the top two on more than one occasion, Ms. Larocque has shown herself to be a charismatic TV personality and a class act.  So some viewers might say she’s representing Thunder Bay very well on national television.

I wouldn’t.

We tend to develop a sense of ownership over people when they appear in national and international media.  Every time actor Kevin Durand pops up in something, we’re thrilled to tell people he’s from Thunder Bay – as though that has something to do with his on-screen successes.

Furthermore, we attach ourselves to their image and successes.  We believe their behaviour or their image will affect how “we” look to the world.  Our local TV station has often received emails commenting on everything from clothes to hairstyles to the style of our news set comparing us to major networks and bemoaning our small-town look.  (Spoiler alert: compared to many, Thunder Bay is a small town.)

But while we might be obsessed with how we look to the world, the world isn’t really all that interested.  And may not see the connection.  After all, when was the last time you saw Ryan Reynolds’ perfectly sculpted abs and quick wit and thought, “Vancouver, you’re looking good”?

Yes, it’s natural to have pride in success.  Cryssi’s mother, grandmother and others who shared their kitchen skills and recipes with her can certainly be proud of their role in the road she’s taken.  But the rest of us?  We had nothing to do with it.

Cryssi Larocque represents herself – and only herself – on MasterChef Canada.  So own those victories, Cryssi.  You’ve earned them.

And while you’re at it, I’d love the recipe for that root vegetable soup you made.  Or better yet, just send over a vat of the stuff.