Thousands auditioned. Only 50 were chosen.

And 3 of them are from Ottawa.

They are the first-ever contestants of Masterchef Canada – a reality TV show that puts amateur home cooks through a series of elimination challenges until one is crowned Master Chef.

It’s the Canadian version of the highly-successful Masterchef franchise that has shows in the U.S. and 40 countries worldwide.

Ottawa’s contestants are Dina Van Koeverden, an opera singer and mother of two, Social Worker Sparkle Davis, and Shane Ereaut, a member of the Canadian Armed Forces stationed in Ottawa. (If you count Ben Miner, an Ottawa stand-up comedian and radio host now living in Toronto, there are actually 4 local hopefuls to root for.)

“When they called me and said Shane you’re going to be on the top 50 I was literally speechless,” says Ereaut. “I thought they had called the wrong Shane.”

“It was surreal. I can’t even put it into words,” adds Van Koeverden. “I was just really excited.”

Contestants are sworn to secrecy over results of the show, which is taped in advance. But the three Ottawa-based cooks all agree it is an experience of a lifetime. And they have all become fast friends. That doesn’t, however, dampen their competitive spirit. “At the end of the day we’re all there with the same goal,” says Sparkle Davis. “The goal is to beat everybody else.”

Masterchef Canada debuts Monday, Jan. 20th on CTV.