Meet Doctor By Day, Master Chef By Night

06/22/16  |  Rebecca Perez  |  12464 views


I’ve had the pleasure to sit down with Montreal Doctor by day, Chef by night, Dr. Shawn Karls to discuss how he finds balance doing the things he loves. 

It's already very impressive to be a Medical Resident at McGill University (where only about 150 students are admitted out of 2,000 yearly applicants) - but to also end up in the top 14 finalists of Master Chef Canada (from a pool of 12,000 applications) well that just takes the cake.

Keep reading to find out more about the Montreal Doctor who took over Master Chef last season.

Dr. Karls has been a culinary genius for years. "I'm always cooking for my friends, it's what I love to do" so It's no surprise as to why he decided to audition on the reality TV show that gives home cooks the opportunity to compete for a cash prize and title of Canada’s next MasterChef.

Incase you haven't watched the show yet, (which I suggest you start doing right now) three expert chefs evaluate the skills of amateur cooks who are faced with different types of challenges, either individually or in teams, to determine who gets eliminated from the competition. The pressure is ON (as is the timer) during the entire show.

The experience was even more thrilling on the other side of the screen. "You think you're the best amongst average people and then [when you're on the show] you feel like you’re at best average amongst really good people."
During our interview, Dr. Karls did a live presentation of some of his favourite meals while giving me the details of his performance.

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photo cred - Master Chef Canada

What was it like being on reality TV? 

When you think about reality tv, [you don’t realize] the details. Everything needs to be perfect. There’s 8-10 cameras, footage, over 100 hours per episode that gets cut down to 40 minutes. So a lot of things get missed, [although] they do pick the highlights.

Top 14 is when the competition gets real. You have to try and film 14 people, and everyone is doing such amazing things but you can only fit so much in one episode. Really their episodes should be 2 hours long it’s unfortunate, even during a tasting or judging time, at the beginning they weren't able to show everyones food getting tasted. 

Tell me about your experience?

team challege

photo cred - Master Chef Canada

For the first challenge, we had to cook South American cuisine. There’s a pantry stocked with everything you could ever imagine or hope for in a kitchen - all high quality ingredients.

That’s really the thing about that show, or like the thing about cooking that people that aren't so good at struggle with, - there they have the best ingredients and best equipment. It’s like golf, if you give Tiger Woods a $20 golf club instead of the ones he uses, he won’t be as good as he is. It definitely helps, but at the end you still have to perform. 

Once the timer goes off, there’s 3 judges that taste your food - and they pick someone [for elimination]. If they pick you, you’re on a flight home that night. 

What have you learned on the show?

I knew first of all, that no matter what anyone said behind the scenes, it's a reality show [so] I took everything with a grain of salt. Everyone just wants everyone else to do well. I knew this wasn't real life and I wanted to maintain my integrity. For me, that was more important than winning.


Photo cred - Ama Sechere

Would you ever go back?

In a heartbeat. It was the best experience of my life, [although] super intimidating at first, it became a really wild ride”. 

What is your favourite type of food to cook?

Asian fusion, tartar, is one of my favourites. 

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This time he prepared a tuna and avocado tartar, with a side of home-made lotus chips and his signature sauce (one that stays a secret). 

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Next up was a remake of his white apron winning Asian fusion chicken tacos with a jalapeño and bell pepper lime slaw and avocado cream.

What's next? 

Dr. Karls is completing his residency in Nuclear Medicine, and he's off to Harvard next year for his fellowship. (yup, he really does it all). 

He will eventually like to open a restaurant, [although] it's a very long term goal. For now, he is embarking in his full time career, while cooking up a storm in his kitchen.

For foodgasm galore, follow Dr. Shawn Karls on Instagram.

To watch Master Chef Canada visit CTV directly here. 


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