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Why is no one describing Celine Dion’s stage mobbing as assault?

Iconic Canadian singer and businesswoman Celine Dion was mobbed by a female fan.

In the middle of one of her concerts in Las Vegas, a fan rushed the stage and grabbed the singer, gyrating against her body with her legs wrapped around her waist. The woman was obviously drunk and it is unclear how she got past security.

Dion handled the fan like the magical woman she is. She calmed the woman down, sent security away, and proceeded to speak with the woman. “I’m glad you came up on stage tonight,” Dion said. “I’m glad that you wanted to come closer to me.” The exchange took about five minutes before the woman was escorted off stage.

“Some people go through a lot,” Dion tells the crowd. “And some people need to talk, and I want to say thank you to all of you, because for maybe five minutes we have given this lady a moment to talk.”

Dion is an incredibly classy and kindhearted woman, so it’s not surprising that she handled this challenging moment in such a dignified way. But, what was surprising is the media’s description of the event.

“Celine Dion uses the power of love to deal with drunk fan”. “Celine Dion is a model of kindness”.

While it is true that Dion was a model of kindness, she was also a victim of assault — something no one seems to be talking about.

In an age where women are standing up and telling their #MeToo stories, the media needs to be harsher in exposing instances, no matter how small, in which women and men are being harassed. This fan did not have Dion’s permission to touch her or gyrate against her body.

Sexual assault is described as sexual contact that usually involves force upon a person without consent. Sexual harassment is defined as unwanted sexual advances or obscene remarks. Gyrating against another person’s body would absolutely fall within these definitions.  

In the video, at one moment, Dion asks the woman “can I touch you”, and she takes her hand and walks her to centre stage. There was consent in that moment for that particular form of physical contact. There was no consent for this fan to start humping Dion on stage, even if Dion was open to keeping her on stage. Just like an invitation into someone’s house isn’t an invitation for sex, an invitation on stage is not an invitation for physical contact.

I also wonder if these headlines would have read differently if the fan was a man? Is it less of an incident because it was a woman gyrating against another woman?

If 2018 is the year of TIME’S UP — it has to be universal. Just because you are a celebrity or an entertainer, doesn’t mean it is okay to be attacked by a fan. It doesn’t mean you should have to handle it with dignity and class. And it doesn’t mean the rules are different for men and women.

This incident, no matter how compassionately it was dealt with, was assault — and it’s time to start describing it that way.

Featured image by celebrityabc.

What do you think? Let us know in the comments below!

5 kickass moments for women at the Golden Globes

Who watched the Golden Globes Sunday night?

I’m not a big fan of award shows. Honestly, I only watch them to enjoy the entertainment or the fashion. I like movies and television, but often I sit down to watch my PVR shows months, or even years, after they were cool. This year, however, I watched the Golden Globes for another reason — I wanted to see the impact of the TIME’S UP Campaign.

Last week, women within the entertainment industry joined forces with activists, lawyers, and farmworkers, to form the initiative TIME’S UP, which will fight systemic sexual harassment in Hollywood and in blue-collar workplaces. They called for everyone attending the Golden Globes to wear black in solidarity.

It was also the first award show to be broadcast since the #MeToo campaign picked up force last year. This led to some highly political, and inspirational moments. Even host Seth Meyers began his monologue with the following statement: “Good evening ladies and remaining gentlemen. It’s 2018. Marijuana is finally allowed, and sexual harassment finally isn’t.”

Here are the top moments for women at the Golden Globes:

Oprah’s speech: Oprah Winfrey was honoured with the Cecil B. DeMille award for lifetime achievement, making her the first black woman to receive it. If this wasn’t enough, in typical Oprah fashion, she stood up and presented a 10-minute speech about race, women, and inspiration that resulted in numerous standing ovations.

I want tonight to express gratitude to all the women who have endured years of abuse and assault because they, like my mother, had children to feed and bills to pay and dreams to pursue. They’re the women whose names we’ll never know. They are domestic workers and farm workers. They are working in factories and they work in restaurants and they’re in academia, engineering, medicine, and science. They’re part of the world of tech and politics and business. They’re our athletes in the Olympics and they’re our soldiers in the military…For too long, women have not been heard or believed if they dare speak the truth to the power of those men. But their time is up. Their time is up.

Here are all the male nominees: While presenting the award for best director, Actress Natalie Portman added in a very poignant line: “And here are the all-male nominees.” Female directors don’t often get nominated for their work, and this year was no exception (surprising considering TIME’S UP). There were three female directors who helped produce some amazing films this year — Greta Gerwig; Ladybird, Des Rees; Mudbound, and Patty Jenkins; Wonder Woman — who at least deserved a nomination. Portman’s unexpected ad-lib was the talk of the Internet.

The Handmaiden’s Tale: Elizabeth Moss won best actress for her role in The Handmaiden’s Tale, based off the novel by Canadian author Margaret Atwood. The series takes place in a dystopian future in which America women are enslaved and forced to act as child bearers following a fertility pandemic. Women are treated as lower beings, torn from their families, raped, and forced to serve higher men. Season two of The Handmaiden’s Tale is set to be released in April. “Margaret Atwood, this is for you and all of the women who came before you, and after you, who were brave enough to speak out against intolerance and injustice and to fight for equality and freedom in this world,” she said. The show, which was filmed in Toronto, also won for best television series. The director thanked everyone for working hard to make sure the show doesn’t become a reality.

A sea of black attire: TIME’S UP called for celebrities to wear black to the Golden Globes, and they responded in force! I can count the number of people not wearing black on one hand — at least from what I saw. This also included men, many of whom were wearing the TIME’S UP pin, the must-have “political accessory” of the awards show, as the New York Times called it.

The anti-celebs: There were some faces on the red carpet most people didn’t recognize. They were the activists, lawyers, and farm workers. They were the women who don’t typically get their photo taken or have their names printed in the papers. A number of celebrities chose to bring one of these women as their special guest, providing them with a platform to discuss their causes. Here were the activists present on the red carpet:

  • Marai Larasi, executive director of Imkaan, a British network of organizations working to end violence against black and minority women.
  • Tarana Burke, senior director of the nonprofit Girls for Gender Equity.
  • Saru Jayaraman, a workplace-justice advocate for restaurant workers.
  • Ai-jen Poo, director of the National Domestic Workers Alliance.
  • Monica Ramirez, who fights sexual violence against farmworkers.
  • Rosa Clemente,  Puerto Rican activist & journalist.
  • Billie Jean King, founder of the Women’s Tennis Association.
  • Calina Lawrence, a Suquamish Tribe member, singer and activist for Native American treaty and water rights.

It did feel a little strange to be honest, to have celebrities parade around with an activist on their arm, almost as if they were saying “see, I’m helping too!” At the same time, it provided these women with a platform to speak during primetime.

All in all, not too shabby for a few hours of late night television.

Featured Image provided by NBC.

What did you think of the Glden Globes? Let us know in the comments below!

Do Toronto women need another gender-flipped film?

The trailer for the gender-flipped Ocean’s 8 movie dropped last week.

It does look good. The cast is amazing — Sandra Bullock, Cate Blanchett, Mindy Kaling and Rihanna to name a few — and the one-liners made me chuckle. I was a fan of the original Ocean movies, so I will probably see this one. It is being described as not a remake, but rather a spin-off or a sequel. It follows the storyline of Debbie Ocean, sister of Danny from the original films, who wants to steal an incredibly expensive diamond necklace worth one or one and a half billion dollars (unclear). She assembles seven other women to help with the job.

This is the second “gender-flipped” film set to be released. The first was the all-female Ghostbusters reboot and there are rumours of more on their way.

While I’m all for seeing films with strong female characters, I have to wonder why they are all remakes or sequels to pre-existing films in which the cast was dominated by men? Can anyone come up with a movie script that has a predominately female cast, with complex characters and a decent storyline. Wonder Woman was a good film, but those characters were also pre-existing in lore and comics.

Other original films revolve around romance or motherhood — and most of them are really terrible. They tend to make fun of women more than they empower them. What the world needs isn’t another remake, but rather an intense drama or action film with a diverse range of female stars. Preferably, this original film would be written, directed, and produced by a woman. 

I know it may be a long time until something like this is produced. But, I think the challenge is worth it. In light of feminism being the word of the year and sexual harassment being the story of the year, maybe it’s time to start considering real, strong women as inspiration in film.

Toronto: A Christmas Prince is the worst holiday movie ever

I hated Netflix’s A Christmas Prince. There, I said it! This royal holiday-themed rom-com is terrible and you should stop watching it right now!

Warning: Spoilers!

The storyline follows journalist wannabe Amber, who finds herself thrust into an assignment covering the return of a playboy prince to his homeland for, potentially, his coronation. After being unable to get any information from the official press sources, Amber sneaks into the castle and poses as a tutor for the Prince’s younger, wheelchair-bound sister. Cue family drama, adoption papers, a coup, romance, and of course, a fancy ball with beautiful gowns.

Sure, some of it is quite cute. The younger sister, Emily, is probably the only good thing about the low-budget film. But, for a journalist, the movie is excruciating. I watched A Christmas Prince with my sister, who got a little frustrated when I kept yelling at the television saying things like “that would never happen” or “my god woman, are you an idiot!”

How on earth did some people watch this movie 18 days in a row! Even Netflix couldn’t believe it.

Suffice to say, I will not be one of the people watching this movie again. Here are a few of the journalistic problems I caught while wasting away for an hour and a half:

Word length and quote misinformation: Before we get into the drama with the prince, Amber is tasked with re-writing a colleague’s article that was double the word limit. His piece also included a quote from someone Amber says was not on the floor, meaning the quote was made up. That is a serious infraction of journalistic standards and would result in a firing of that reporter — or at least a stern talking to by a senior editor.

Newsroom budget: There is no newspaper in North America that would be able to send a random copywriter to a foreign country to cover an inauguration. Either they already have boots on the ground, or they aren’t interested in the Royal Family. Whatever budget this newsroom had — I want it!

Lack of ethics: This woman (I refuse to call her a journalist), sneaks into a home and pretends to be a child’s tutor. In any real scenario, this would get the woman arrested, fined, and possibly jailed. But, in A Christmas Prince, her editor actually encourages her to get lots of photographs and video of the Prince with her phone. While there are instances of journalists going undercover in order to get a story — the rules for doing so are quite strict. Amber is not exposing mistreatment or abuse. Rather, she is invading the personal privacy of a family, including a minor, for personal gain. She is also stealing the identity of a woman who is supposed to be Emily’s tutor. This is unacceptable.

Side note: how come no one in the castle checked Amber’s identification to make sure she had the credentials to spend time alone with a child?

Amber’s “notes”: I want to know how she wrote this story. The film allows viewers a sneak into the “questions” Amber has about the prince, all of them really simplistic. She also includes little tidbits like “I have to dig deeper”, as if, as a journalist, she needs to remind herself to do her job. In fact, her notes read more like a diary – “I think I’m finally starting to get to know the real prince…so not what I thought” or “The prince is definitely starting to trust me…but can’t seem like I”m prying.” All of these notes indicate a malicious attempt to invade someone’s privacy, not a journalist objectively writing down the facts of a story.

Objectivity and blackmail: At some point in the movie, Emily finds out that Amber isn’t actually her tutor and is, in fact, a reporter. Instead of kicking her out of the castle, Emily blackmails Amber into writing a positive story about her brother, or rather “the truth” as she puts it. Amber agrees. While the prince may not have been a playboy, Amber is still negotiating with a source.

Theft of private property: Amber finds the prince’s adoption papers in his father’s cottage getaway and takes them with intent to print. First of all, these documents were procured out of a lie. Second of all, they were not simply sitting on a table where Amber happened to come upon them. She searched through desks, diaries, and papers, and stole them!

Basic security notes: After finding the adoption papers, Amber is interrupted by the prince, who asks her to go for a walk. She says “one minute,” throws her coat on, and leaves the room — leaving all of the private documents on her bed for anyone to find! Journalism 101 indicates that if you have a private document or source, you should do all you can to secure those documents.

I’m not even going to touch upon the bias that presents itself when you fall in love with the subject of your story.

In the age of fake news, it is incredibly important to represent journalism in a fair and accurate way. A Christmas Prince should be ashamed that it is catering to the

What did you think of A Christmas Prince? Let us know in the comments below!

10 movies to put you into the Christmas spirit

By no means do you have to agree with me, but I feel like I’ve watched enough Hallmark/Lifetime Christmas movies to rank the best Christmas movies of all time. I have become an expert. There are the classics, the romantic comedies, and the plain silly ones, but some remain stuck in our hearts and minds and we end up watching them almost every time Christmas rolls around. Here are 10 Christmas movies that will make your holiday season. Grab your hot-chocolate and let’s go.

10. Love Actually

If Love Actually was not on this list, something would be severely wrong. This holiday favourite is a must watch on my list. Since it’s release in 2003, there is something about the unique story pattern of the several characters that remains to be sweet, honest, loving and romantic. The classic cue card scene is Love Actually will always give me goosebumps.

9.  The Holiday

The Holiday remains one of those feel-good romantic comedies, that will leave you inspired and hopeful, even if you are suffering from a breakup during the Christmas season. It will make you laugh and it will make you cry. Also – Jude Law, am I right ladies?

8.  The Santa Claus

I don’t recall how old I was when I first saw the Christmas movie. Released in 1994, this family comedy served up Tim Allen as an accidental replacement to Santa Claus. The Santa Claus is the first of a trilogy and gives a modern twist to a classic tale. It’s cute, cheesy, and just entertaining to watch. Apparently, our editor watched all three movies in one day!

 

7. Bad Santa

Bad Santa is definitely not your classic family-friendly film, but it will leave you laughing all the way through. Santa is unlike anything you expect and proves that the holiday season isn’t for everyone !

6. Elf

This 2003 light-hearted comedy tells the story of Buddy, played by Will Farrell, who as a human,grew up in the North Pole amongst Santa’s elves. However, he always feels like he doesn’t fit in, so he travels to New York in search of his real family. This movie provides lots of fantasy, laughs, fun, and a touch of romance.

5. Family Man

This is one that I always end up watching during the holidays. Released in 2000, this romantic comedy, explores thephrase, “be careful what you wish for”! It’s a reflection of the choices we make in life and how it impacts our future. It definitely causes you to reflect during this holiday season and be thankful for your family.

4. La La Land

While technically not a christmas movie, it was released during the holidays of 2016 and starts with an opening winter scene in balmy LA. This musical/romance flick starring Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone is whimsical, dramatic, and will leaving you dancing amongst the stars. Its a reflection of life, love and how our careers can inevitably take over our lives.

 

3. Serendipity

Serendipity is one of those moves that will always leave you hopeful and touched. This romantic comedy sticks true to its name. It revolves around events that happen by chance that result in a happy or magical situation. It taught me that what is meant to be will be. Love finds a way.

2.  Home Alone

Home Alone is without a doubt a holiday classic. Many people feel like it’s not Christmas time unless Home alone is on television.  Home Alone and the subsequent movies to follow in the franchise always provide fun entertainment for the family. The message is always the same: no matter how much you fight with your family and friends, nobody wants to be alone at Christmas.

The Polar Express

This 2004, 3D animated film transports us on a magical and inspiring adventure based on the children’s book by Chris Van Allsburg. Viewers are invited along for ann adventure on a magical train ride to the North Pole. This movie heightens the sense of imagination and self-discovery, especially for children.

Hope you enjoyed this list of Christmas movies? While many classics like Miracle on 34th Street, White Christmas, and A Christmas Story were omitted, that doesn’t mean you can’t fit them into your viewing schedule.

Happy Watching and Happy Holidays. Comment your favourite movie below!

French pastry week with the Canadian Baking Show

Bonjour — that’s about all host Dan Levy could say in French, but that didn’t stop French pastry week on the Great Canadian Baking Show. (Don’t worry Dan. It’s better not to speak the language if you truly can’t.)

This week marked the semi-finals of the competition, which put a lot of extra stress on the four remaining bakers.

The first challenge was a dozen Mille-Feuilles, or a Napoleon as North American’s may know them. These treats are made of layers of light, flaky puff pastry with a flavoured filling (typically a kind of custard), and decadent toppings. The key for this challenge, as is the key with most French pastry, was elegance.

Unfortunately, none of the bakers nailed the pastry itself. Most were undercooked, while one was overcooked. Most of them had wonderful presentation, but I found the layers weren’t tight enough. When I bite into a Napoleon, I like to be able to get all the layers at once. The bakers had thick, dollops of icing, which looked beautiful, but if a regular person were eating that Mille-Feuille they may have a challenge getting a taste of every layer. The judges, in their typical style, peeled apart each layer with a fork. That may be how the French eat a Mille-Feuille, but it’s not how we Canadians eat a Napoleon.

The technical challenge was an Opera cake, made with layers of almond sponge cake soaked in coffee syrup, layered with ganache and coffee buttercream and covered in a chocolate glaze. On the top is the word Opera written in thin, cursive, chocolate writing. Most of the cakes were not soaked in enough coffee for the judges’ taste.

Sabrina did very well with her cake and the writing on top, but unfortunately chocolate glaze is unforgiving. There was a giant fingerprint in the centre of the cake! Sadly, there was absolutely nothing she could do about it. Both Linda and Vandana had issues with their cursive writing, with the chocolate icing too thick to create an elegant look. James succeeded in creating a nearly perfect Opera cake.

The show stopper challenge was a tower of cream puffs, or a croquembouche — round pieces of choux pastry filled with cream, stuck together with sugar or caramel. This task was all about time management. Each baker needed at least 100 cream puffs in order to make a structure that was tall enough. James, unfortunately, was unable to plan well enough to make the number of cream puffs needed for a tower. He also ran out of sugar to bind the puffs together; Vandana was kind enough to allow him to use some of her leftover caramel so that he could at least put together something for the judges.

Both Sabrina and Vandana produced beautiful looking croquembouche. Sabrina’s tower was gorgeous and consisted of a number of attachable elements, including sugar strings. However, it wasn’t baked enough. Vandana’s creamy filling was delicious, but the judges said she also could a bit better with her pastry.

This was the semi-finals, so the final three contestants will compete next week for the title of Great Canadian Baker! James, unfortunately, will not be competing next week. Despite the fact that every dessert tasted delicious according to the judges, his presentation hurt him. The judges (and myself) have such a soft spot for James, who can make something delicious even if it looks really ugly. But, unfortunately, as the competition winds down, presentation must be judged in equal measure to taste. Linda was named star baker after producing a gorgeous white chocolate holiday themed cream puff tower.

Who do you think will win next week? Let us know in the comments below!

Holiday week on the Great Canadian Baking Show

There was garland, there was eggnog, and there was yuletide cheer. You guessed it: it was Holiday Week on the Great Canadian Baking Show.

This week’s episode had possibly the best host introduction yet — Daniel Levy and Julia Chan start the show by walking away from the bakers tent to go on vacation, after mistakingly assuming that “holiday week” was a break from the show. Cheesy? Yes. Did it make me laugh? Also, yes.

Both hosts were particularly delightful this week. The puns were less forced and Levy again proved he had the best job in the world as the baker’s taster.

The first challenge was to create a yule log, or a Buche De Noel, a traditional French dessert that involves rolling sponge cake with layers of cream, with a chocolate coating. The desert should have an equal spiral of cream and sponge, which is difficult to achieve because it requires the baker to tightly roll the cake without breaking it.

Vandana’s classic chocolate yule log with chocolate cream and raspberry flavours was a crowd pleaser. Linda’s pumpkin rendition with caramel cream cheese icing and chocolate bark looked absolutely gorgeous. James tried something different and instead of covering his log in chocolate, he created a bark patterned log — twice as he forgot butter in the first batch. The outside was impressive; however the inside looked a bit squashed, as per typical James style.

The technical challenge was Rugelach, a Jewish cookie that looks a bit like a croissant and has an apricot and chocolate filling. I had a few issues with this technical challenge, but my primary concern was that everyone’s dough was undercooked. I guess even the Great Baking Shows are not exempt from the typical “reality television” mantra that something has to be more challenging so as to create unnecessary drama. For example, not including how much time a treat takes to cook will ensure that absolutely no one gets the task right. Sure, leave them to guess ingredient measurements or how to assemble a dessert, but the time it takes for something to cook is a fact any baker would need to know. It sets the tone for everything else they do. I felt so bad for all the bakers who did the best they could  with the information they were given.

The final show stopper challenge was a gingerbread structure. Notice the word “structure” and not house. Bakers were given free reign of what they wanted to create, and it resulted in some truly unique gingerbreads. Vandana’s treehouse for her so was the cutest thing I’ve ever seen. She had so many small details and the fact that the house sat on a gingerbread tree stump really set her apart. Linda also created a truly stunning barn with stained glass windows and an iced roof.

Terri’s animal sanctuary was a brilliant idea. Unfortunately, her windows melted and she overdid it with decorations. Sabrina also didn’t have a great week – her Rockefeller Center was a bit simplistic, despite it being one of the tallest structures.

At the end of the day Terri, who wowed us with her family-themed desserts on a weekly basis, was sent home this week. Vandana was named star baker for the second week in a row!

Next week will be the semi finals. I am beyond sad this show will be ending soon. I’ve grown to love each one of these bakers. Everyone should be incredibly proud of their accomplishments. I’ve loved Terri since day one – she loves to add little fun details to her bakes that make her treats stand out.

But, someone has to go home each week, right?! Next week should be a crazy whirlwind.

5 places to dine in Toronto this winter

Just because it’s winter, doesn’t mean the fun has to end. A friend of mine said that her favourite thing to do is dress up and go out for dinner, a casual lunch or even an early morning breakfast. So here are five recommended spots by Women’s Post to dine this winter in Toronto.

Copacabana Brazilian Rodizio

You don’t have to go all they way to Brazil to experience an authentic way of cooking grilled Brazilian foods. Copacabana has four locations in Canada and two are based in downtown Toronto. This unique style of serving food is similar to many rodizio’s around the world. Rodizio refers to an all you can eat style Brazilian steakhouse, where servers bring large skewers of meats and grilled vegetables ( but mostly meat) around to your table and they carve off slices. The servers keep coming until you over indicate with a card you wish not to be served. Copacabana Toronto also adds lively Brazilian flair to their atmosphere by having samba dancers performing on Fridays and Saturdays as well as an aerial silk performer.

Blu Ristorante

As the name may suggest, this restaurant is self-proclaimed as the number one Italian restaurant in Toronto. It has actually been the recipient of Open Table’s Diner’s Choice for the past seven years in a row. This Yorkville-based restaurant offers an intimate and formal dining space with the ambiance of live music. Expect menu choices such as braised octopus with black kale pesto and fettuccine with Nova Scotia lobster tail, calamari and tiger prawn. Blu is the place to enjoy great Italian food and a wide selection of wine in a warm and inviting space.

Cactus Club Cafe

This trendy Adelaide West restaurant,located in the heart of the financial district is a personal favourite, no matter the season, Cactus Club Cafe will give you a lively and upbeat atmosphere even on a dreary Monday night. There are three levels to choose from, and a heated rooftop for those milder winter nights featuring a live DJ. With prompt and friendly service, you will certainly enjoy this restaurant as you dine on the creations of culinary masters and specially crafted cocktails for each season. This winter, bar operations manager Kris Jensen introduced two new seasonal creations, the Whiskey Ginger Smash and the LateHarvest Daiquiri with hints of Saskatoon berry and elderflower.

La Banane

Voted as one of the best new restaurants of 2017 by Toronto Life, La Banane offers eclectic french cuisine to the streets of Toronto. Located on Ossington Avenue, this stunning spot offers a fresh raw bar with mussels, oysters, shrimp, crab, lobster, and scallops. Obviously, all that seafood pairs will the abundance of wine that this french bistro has to offer. La Banane is led by Chef Brandon Olsen, who has curated the menu consisting of his personal french inspired food passions.

Cacao 70

One of the key points of going out to eat in the winter is that you want to feel comfortable and cozy. Cacao 70 is located in the Distillery District and offers a Queen W. location as well. This popular chocolate drinking bar, originated in Montreal, but has slowly spread all over Canada. It is not just all about their speciality of Chocolate, but the restaurant offers the experience of using Chocolate in different flavour adventures. Enjoy drinks like Black Sesame hot cocoa and Champurrado, which features  hot chocolate with spicy cinnamon and whipped cream.

What’s your favourite Toronto restaurant?

Canada Week with the Great Canadian Baking Show

Oh Canada!

It was baking week on the Great Canadian Baking Show, which meant lots of delicious, patriotic, treats!

The first challenge was a Tourtière, a French-Canadian meat pie. The bakers were asked to make a flaky pie crust with a meaty centre, and pair it with a condiment. I am a huge fan of Tourtière. My mother makes it for the family every Christmas Eve, pairing it with Russian gravy, so I know what goes into making this rich and decadent meal. Each baker used a different meat combination, with some airing on the lean side. Fat is necessary in order to keep the filling juicy and tender.

I have to admire James Hoyland and Verdana Jain for making a vegetarian pie instead. They stuck to their beliefs, regardless of the challenge, and shocked the judges with their delicious pies. James used beets to give the pie a meat-like colour while Verdana used cashews as a base.

**Also, I need the goggles James uses to cut onions!!

The technical challenge was a maple cookie. While many of the previous technical challenges have been foreign to the bakers, this one was well known to all. The only thing bakers struggled with was the amount of maple butter in between the cookies.

The showstopper challenge was donuts, which was a little odd considering this treat actually originates in the United States. Sure, Canadians enjoy a good donut with our double double, but that doesn’t mean it is a national treat. Bakers could have been asked to make butter tarts, nanaimo bars, blueberry grunt, or even a Made In Canada cake — all much more Canadian than a donut. Hopefully, these items will be included in other challenges.

The origins of the donut aside, there were some bakers who tried to “canadian-ize” their treats. Linda made some beautiful maple bacon and double-double flavoured donuts and Verdana used Saskatchewan berries as her inspiration. Julian created some fun canoe-shaped donuts and Sabrina made donut poutine! This was a challenge that allowed the bakers to be creative and have fun. It also made me want to try to make donuts!

I’m going to dedicate some time to talk about James — who I firmly believe is my spirit animal. The way he cooks is the way most of us amateur bakers cool: with a messy flare. At the end of the day, no matter how many bags explode on him or how many glazes bubble on to the stovetop, his food always tastes good (at least according to the judges), and that’s all that matters! I feel a weird connection to him as a messy baker myself. When I first started baking, nothing turned out right. I once served a neon orange pumpkin pie to friends. It tasted great…it just looks like something out of a cartoon. But, that’s the beauty of this show. While presentation is really important, at the end of the day it’s all about the taste.

I’ve mentioned the camaraderie of this show so many times, but it presented itself in a different way — goofiness!  So many puns, so much cookie stealing, and lots of fun in the rain. It gets harder to see bakers go home every week — but alas, that’s the reality of the show. This week James won star baker for his delicious vegetarian pie and his peach stuffed donuts (yay!) and the whimsical Jude Somers from Victoria, B.C., was asked to leave.

Baking Minute: dessert week with the Canadian Baking Show

This week was dessert week on the Great Canadian Baking Show – and that meant pies, tarts, and meringue. By the end of the 45 minutes I had this intense craving for something super sweet.

The first challenge was to make an elegant pie or tart. The word “elegant” was key in this challenge as the judges expected dainty presentation. Most bakers used the “blind bake” method for their crusts, where they cook it prior to putting the filling inside to ensure the bottom doesn’t get soggy. I had never heard of this method, and will definitely try it the next time I make a pie.

The bakers really put their all into these desserts. Linda Longson from High River, Alberta, made a beautifully decadent raspberry chocolate pie that captured the audience and made the judges’ mouth water. “I want to dive into that pie,” Bruno Feldeisen said, and rightly so. The pie was decorated with white chocolate curls.

Every pie showcased a little bit of the baker’s personality. There was a pie representing the northern lights, a rustic apple pie, a mile-high lemon meringue, and a pi pie (that turned out to be more of an ode to chaos theory – poor messy James).

The best part of this challenge was watching the bakers. Linda, who I can only assume is a speedy baker as she is always hanging around helping others, points out that Terri Thompson’s pie crust is starting to rise. “You may want to poke some holes in your crust Terri, it’s starting to rise,” she says. In no other baking show, at least that I have witnessed, has a competitor been so kind to another. Her piece of advice probably saved Terri’s pie from disaster.

The technical challenge was a fondant fancy. This involved a dozen equally-sized sponge cakes with jam in the middle. The icing was a cream fondant that had to be evenly spread on the top and four corners of the cake. Bakers had to top it off with a small flower. This challenge was particularly difficult, and many bakers had a hard time with the icing. The icing can’t be spread, so it must be drizzled on top so that it overflows down the sides. But, if you don’t have enough or you have too much, it can cause a mess. The bakers did well enough, at least when compared to last week’s disastrous Montreal Bagel.

The showstopper challenge was a pavlova, a meringue-based dessert named after the Russian ballerina Anna Pavlova. This meringue is then topped with a whipped cream and fruit. It’s a tricky dessert because the meringue can crack, especially if there isn’t enough time to cool the base before applying the cream. There were quite a few excellent pavlovas. My personal favourite was that of James D’Entremont from Halifax. He may have struggled with the first few challenges, but his pavlova had beautiful swirls in it and was beautifully decorated with blueberries and a sugared berry leaf. I was also impressed with Verdana’s yogurt whipped cream.

At the end of the show, the bakers sat side by side, holding hands as the hosts revealed the names of the star baker, and the person leaving the competition. The star baker of the episode was Linda, while Corey Shefman from Toronto, Ont. was sent home following a few mishaps with his pastry and meringue.

What was your favourite baking minute? Let us know in the comments below!