If you’re not from the Fort and didn’t grow up with Cody Karey, you might recognize him as one of the final contestants on Season 2 of CTV’s MasterChef Canada.
Karey is one of four finalists now competing for top chef and $100,000 on MasterChef Canada.
A boost of energy to speak with, Karey talks with a lot of passion about his hometown, his aspirations and his dreams; which says everything about what has brought this 24-year-old – born-and-raised in Fort St. James – to where he is today.
“I always look back at growing up in Fort St. James and I’m really thankful that I had the opportunity to grow up in a small community,” he said.
Karey didn’t start out as a culinary aficionado though, his first love has always been music.
He’s had quite a lot of fortune with his vocal skills, something he says was always a part of his life growing up. Karey started performing at a young age around the Fort and as a teen progressed to competitions and performances on television. He was a finalist in David Foster’s talent competition and later signed with Verve records in 2013.
“Music was always a thing I was pursuing growing up,” he said. “I was always taking part in local music festivals.”
“I was fairly academic too … I was valedictorian along with my best buddy David Wagner.”
Karey says the outdoors had a big part in his time growing up in the Fort such as fishing, hiking, hunting and getting out on the snowmobile in the winter.
“I used to really love getting out on the lake with my dad on his boat and going fishing,” he said. “I feel like growing up in Fort St. James really instilled a love for the outdoors.”
Living in a small community where there might not be a lot of variety at the super market presents challenges in the home kitchen he said. Growing up, Karey said he often would watch the original Japanese Iron Chef show and said the show was something that provided partly to his love of cooking.
“I’d find myself just going, ‘I wonder if I can do that?’” he said. “I guess it was fairly early actually, 12, 13, 14 when I really started to get curious about food … about food as an art-form.”
Karey said his mom’s cooking was also an inspiration to him for its nostalgic value and said her mushroom pork chops hold a special spot in his heart. “As far as inspirations go, it’s got to be my mom.”
Although having a restaurant is one of Karey’s aspirations, he isn’t sure how that will fit into his plans quite yet. At 24, he said it’s a matter of being able to balance his music and his love of cooking. “At this point in time it’s figuring out the how and the when, but I definitely want to have my own place one day.”
Local game and foraged wild edibles are things Karey said he would definitely use in his cooking. He added his increased understanding of what’s available locally has given him a greater range and appreciation for the art of cooking.
“To me that connection to the Earth, the wild, that’s a powerful thing,” he said.
It’s obvious in speaking with Karey – he loves his roots and appreciates where he comes from – you can feel it in how he talks about his community, what that has given him, and what Karey takes with him in all his passions such as cooking. That passion he said, is what brought him to try out as a contestant on MasterChef Canada.
But what he’s experienced on stage as a musician doesn’t compare to being on the TV show, Karey said all the training through his whole life for music didn’t prepare him for the pressure of the clock ticking away in the kitchen. “It’s been the most pres
sure … probably the toughest thing I’ve ever done,” he said. “I’ve been on some pretty big stages … I don’t think the pressure compares to what you feel on MasterChef Canada.”
Karey said his time on the TV show has been inspiring, getting to compete against so many people who shared the same dream and were going after the same goal.
“To be around that many people who are that inspired and that revved up, is contagious,” Karey said. “You can’t not be inspired.”
The competition to win on the show has been a learning experience for Karey, he said the nature of competing brought out parts of his personality that he didn’t know were there, but he said the person he presents on the show is the person he wants to be.
He said he’s thankful for the support from his home in Fort St. James and he hopes to win the competition for everyone back home.
“I think that people are seeing on MasterChef Canada now, the person that I am and the person that I want to be,” he said. “I’m very thankful that there’s an incredible community up in Fort St. James that is rooting for me.”
When asked what he might say to someone just starting out working toward their dreams, Karey said following your instincts and not being afraid to take a leap of faith if you’re passionate about something play a big part in being successful, but also, understanding that being a success doesn’t come without its share of hard work.
“Don’t be afraid to take a leap of faith,” he said. “Success happens when preparation meets opportunity. You gotta put the work in to be prepared and sometimes you have to create your own opportunity.”
“If you’re passionate about something pursue it with everything you’ve got and don’t look back.”
Karey answered a few questions from the Courier after the Sunday episode:
Courier: What was it like having family there for this past episode?
Cody Karey: “We are a pretty close-knit family, and I hadn’t seen any of them in months. I think they were both surprised by the level of my cooking, but not surprised by the catastrophic mess I was able to create by using every dish and utensil in the MasterChef Canada kitchen. In that way it was just like back home.”
Courier: Who was there of your family members?
CK: “My mom, Stacey, and my younger brother, Jesse, were in the MasterChef Canada kitchen to cheer me on.”
Courier: What do you feel you need to bring to the (table) to win?
CK: “In order to win this thing I need to cook smart, but also cook from the heart. I think the biggest thing the judges need to see from me now is the love in my cooking, and that’s exactly what I intend to show them.”
MasterChef Canada Season 2 airs Sundays at 7 p.m. PT on CTV.