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Central Okanagan  

Local MasterChef cooks for the needy

The Okanagan's very own 'MasterChef' is using her new found celebrity status to do some good in her own community.

Born and raised in Penticton and now residing in West Kelowna, Kaila Klassen used her culinary skills to bring a five-star lunch and dinner to the patrons of the Kelowna Gospel Mission in downtown Kelowna on Saturday.

“I really wanted to volunteer and it seems since I have been on MasterChef Canada it has really given me an opportunity to speak about things that are important to me,” shared Klassen. “They threw me in the kitchen and it's been a blast.”

Klassen is a real estate agent for Remax Kelowna by day, but says cooking is a huge passion of hers. Something she shares with her boyfriend as they avidly watched the USA version of MasterChef.

“My boyfriend and I were watching it one day and this commercial came on for MasterChef Canada. I said, 'how funny would that be if I actually got on the show?' So we put together a quirky little video and I sent it in and literally 11 hours later they called me and said they wanted me to come to Vancouver and cook for their judges!” shares Klassen.

Which was a success. As we learnt last week, she made it into the top 50 of the competition.

And now she wants to give back and inspire others to do the same, starting right here at home.

“I thought if I could bring attention to how much the Kelowna Gospel Mission really does and if even one person reads about me doing this and wants to come volunteer then I am going to be very happy,” said Klassen.

When she arrived at the Mission Saturday morning it was much like the 'mystery box' challenge of the reality show, as she had no idea what ingredients she had to work with, but she managed to whip up a fabulous lunch and dinner for the patrons.

“I got here and made a roasted squash soup with toasted sage and some toasted pumpkin seeds on top," says Klassen who then turned her focused to this evening's meal. "For dinner tonight there will be stuffed meatballs, stuffed with cheddar cheese, and a creamy polenta cake with a homemade marinara sauce,” explained Klassen.

Over the lunch hour Klassen and the Kelowna Gospel Mission team served over 100 hungry guests and expects similar numbers tonight.

Klassen is forbidden from sharing how far she makes it on the show but says it was a life changing experience.

“It was the most amazing experience. It was surreal. I mean it was just roller coaster of emotion, but definitely the most fun and inspirational thing I have ever done in my life.”

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