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Photo courtesy of Marc-Antoine Boucher-Brier

For one group of University of Ottawa students, MasterChef is more than just a fun TV show.

Team leader Marc-Antoine Boucher-Brière, a fourth-year French literature student, and teammates Étienne Chassé and Jean-Simon Pacaud Lemay won the school’s Top Chef competition with a rare root beer steak and quinoa salad. The victory means the trio will compete again in January, at the University of Massachusetts Amherst against 10 other schools.

Boucher-Brière, who loves to barbecue and watch MasterChef programs from around the world, gave the Fulcrum some of his helpful tips for the kitchen.

1) Be creative and have fun. Don’t be afraid to try and modify what you see on cooking shows for what you have in your fridge. The easiest modification would be dairy: cream, for example, can be switched for yogurt.

2) Make a list before going to the grocery store so you stay focused. If you know what you are cooking ahead of time, you will be able to make better decisions for your week ahead, saving you money instead of buying expensive ready-made meals.

3) Marinate your meat the night before you plan to cook it so it stays tender. It may be as gruelling as packing a lunch the night before, but it’s worth it.

4) Try to cook with healthy oils like olive oil instead of vegetable spray. It tastes phenomenal and it’s a great source of vitamin E.

5) Add maple syrup to any dish for a little flavour, eh? You can substitute it in sauces or salad dressings in place of sugar.