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Winnipeg's Jeremy Senaris prepares to become Canada’s next MasterChef

Local chefs say his success is drawing attention to Winnipeg's Filipino food movement.

Jeremy Senaris at a fundraiser at Norwest Community Centre.

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Jeremy Senaris at a fundraiser at Norwest Community Centre.

In his intro video for the foodie favourite show MasterChef Canada, 34-year-old Winnipegger Jeremy Senaris confidently claimed “I have skills. Mad skills.”

It’s clear he wasn’t kidding.

Senaris, a building plan examiner who works for the City of Winnipeg, leapfrogged over 12 other home cooks vying for the title of MasterChef Canada and a $100,000 cash prize. It started with his audition dish which was a Dynamite Roll with Spicy Mayo and Bonito Flakes.

This Sunday, the Filipino-Canadian will compete in the finale against Mary Berg from Toronto.

"I am ecstatic to hear of the news that Jeremy has made it to the finals,” said Point Douglas City Councillor Mike Pagtakhan. “It takes a great deal of skill, talent and palate for great taste to make it to the finals, and obviously Jeremy has all these skillsets. Winnipeg will certainly be with him."

Senaris started cooking when his mother was diagnosed with cancer. After she passed away in 2008, he learned how to replicate her dishes which were mainly Filipino. For the show, however, he took those recipes and elevated them to MasterChef quality.

Allan Pineda, who together with his wife Amanda, operate Baon Manila Nights, a monthly Filipino pop-up dinner series in Winnipeg. Pineda said he had the MasterChef finalist cooking in a recent fundraiser at Norwest Community Centre and is planning another event with him in July.

“It’s crazy how far he got, and obviously we want to see him win,” Pineda said. “And it’s so great his success on the show is drawing attention to the Filipino food movement.”

Pineda said the fact that Senaris made it to the finale will open many doors for the budding chef, even if he doesn’t win.

“Jeremy is one of those hidden gems who will be in great demand on the food scene no matter how things turn out for him Sunday.”

The chance to win the MasterChef title will also mean a new chapter for Senaris, who has lived with his sister and her family since losing everything in a house fire in January, 2015.

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