12/11/2014 03:31 EST | Updated 02/10/2015 05:59 EST

'MasterChef Canada: A Holiday Special': Get Into The Spirit With This Cooking Competition


We're winding down to the days where it's all about family, friends, fun and food -- which makes "MasterChef Canada: A Holiday Special" the perfect thing to watch.

Be warned, though. If you cry at the drop of a hat like myself (honestly, a good audition on "The Voice" gets me), then make sure you have a box (that's right, a BOX) of tissues by your side. Because unless you are dead inside, there's no way you can watch this and not feel something. Me? I was crying during the introduction of the teams. Because that's how I roll. And it only gets more emotional as Dora Cote, Marida Mohammed, Pino DiCerbo and Tammara Behl compete in the decked-out "MasterChef" kitchen.

Since the holidays are all about our nearest and dearest, instead of some Season 1 favourites coming back and competing, the four competitors brought their loved ones to the kitchen, to experience a little bit of what they went through and see just how tough judges Michael Bonacini, Alvin Leung and Claudio Aprile can be. Thankfully there was less yelling and criticism and more good tidings this time around. And to make it even more heartfelt, the teams are vying for the chance to win $10,000 for the charity of their choice. (Tissue, please.)

Team Dora is comprised of her mom, Deb, son Devyn and cousins Lisa and Jeff, and they are cooking for the Canadian Diabetes Association. Marida and her twin sister Narida, brother Fareed, aunt Joyce, nephew Jonny and daughter Myla are cooking for the Daily Bread Food Bank. Pino was joined by his wife Anna, sister Ange, niece Samantha, sons Adam and David and his adorable mother Filomena (who will break your heart for the entire two hours) are cooking for Brandan's Eye Research Foundation. And, finally, Team Tammara is made up of her husband Rick, aunt Tippy, brother Dave, godson Ee-han and daughters Abby and Breannah.

The home cooks and their families participate in the usual "MasterChef" fare -- a Mystery Box Potluck Challenge, a Skills Test Race that pits family against family, followed by a Tag-Team Bake-Off Elimination Challenge. Two teams are eliminated before the remaining two families serve up elevated versions of their holiday menus in the hopes of coming out on top.

Seeing the "MasterChef" kitchen decorated so festively is one thing, but it's the spirit in the kitchen that had me in tears. Watching the passion everyone has in the kitchen and how the desire to win is overcome by something bigger, something kinder and big-hearted, it is simply a joy to behold.

There may be some classics you don't ever miss, like "It's a Wonderful Life" or "A Christmas Carol," but if "MasterChef Canada" does this every year, it won't be long before it becomes a new viewing tradition for the entire family. Don't miss it. And don't forget the tissues.

"MasterChef Canada: A Holiday Special" airs Monday, Dec. 15 at 8 p.m. ET on CTV and repeats Tuesday, Dec. 23 at 9 p.m. EST on CTV and Thursday, Dec. 25 at 8 p.m. ET on M3. (So no excuses!)

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