Tag Archives: Top Chef Canada

Top Chef Canada: Eden Grinshpan previews Season 6’s culinary combat

Eden Grinshpan’s secret to scoring Top Chef Canada leftovers is pretty darned simple. She writes her name on the food she wants to save for later. And, she’s had plenty of worthy dishes to set aside thanks to this year’s crop of competitors.

“Mark McEwan has been doing this for six seasons and he thinks that this is the best food he’s ever seen on the show,” Grinshpan says. “I’ll leave it at that. Mark McEwan can’t get over it!”

Returning Sunday at 10 p.m. ET/PT on Food Network, Grinshpan returns to host Top Chef Canada alongside head judge McEwan, resident judges Chris Nuttall-Smith, Mijune Pak, Janet Zuccarini and guests like Susur Lee, Rob Feenie, Lynn Crawford and Alexandra Feswick to taste plates prepared by 11 Canadian chefs all gunning for $100,000 and bragging rights.

We spoke to Grinshpan ahead of Sunday’s return to get her take on the competition this season and how she scored one of the best gigs in primetime TV.

Congratulations on your second season of hosting Top Chef Canada.
Eden Grinshpan: Thank you. I feel so fortunate to be a part of this brand. I’ve been a big fan of Top Chef Canada for many years. This year is really great because we have some fresh blood, young chefs who have a lot to prove and are trying to come into their own. It’s amazing to see where they are at and hear their strong culinary voices. This is their chance to showcase who they are as chefs and a lot of the time this can kick-start the next stage in their career. A lot of them are working under some very big names and this gives them the chance to make that big leap and have their own kitchen. I love this season for that reason.

Let’s go back in time. How did you get the hosting gig? Did you audition or did the producers have you in mind?
I was a judge for Chopped Canada and one of the producers actually suggested me because they were looking for a new host. It was kind of like a last-minute audition. I just happened to be in Toronto and they asked me to come in, read a couple of lines and talked. I went in and had a full-on audition and really got along with the executive producers. A couple of months later they sent over a contract and told me they’d love me to be the new host.

Hosting Top Chef Canada is a unique experience. You’re there to introduce guests, the challenges and keep things moving. Was that a learning curve for you?
Definitely. My experience on television has been unscripted, I’m very candid and am very casual on-camera. Top Chef Canada is the most prestigious culinary competition. This is serious. There is a huge title and huge prize. This is another level, so I had to learn some new skills and be able to move the whole competition to the end point. That’s something I had to learn as I went. This season felt more comfortable because I had been through it already and I knew what to expect. I learned a lot and I love that.

Yourself, Mark, Mijune, Janet and Chris all have great chemistry.
We all love each other. Everyone brings something so different to the judging and the show. Chris, obviously, is one of the most intimidating people in the food industry. He just last season revealed what he looks like. That was a big deal. Janet is a powerhouse restaurateur who was nominated for a James Beard Award for best new restaurant. Mark, again, another powerhouse. He is the guy. Mijune has her world experience through her travels and her knowledge of different cuisines. It’s really something all of us can respect in one another and we do. Judging food together has been interesting and amazing.

What can you say about the food you’ve tasted this season?
Mark McEwan has been doing this for six seasons and he thinks that this is the best food he’s ever seen on the show. I’ll leave it at that. Mark McEwan can’t get over it! Every season, it gets next level good. And they always, always surprise us. Not that we’re not expecting amazing, but they are bringing exceptional.

Top Chef Canada airs Sundays at 10 p.m. ET/PT on Food Network.

Images courtesy of Corus Entertainment.

 

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Food Network Canada announces Top Chef Canada Season 6 competitors

From a media release:

The knives are sharpened, the competition is cutthroat and the country’s top culinary title is within reach – but only one will walk away as Canada’s Top Chef. Food Network Canada’s esteemed culinary competition Top Chef Canada (8×60) returns for its sixth high-stakes season on Sunday, April 8 at 10 p.m. ET/PT.

A new lineup of 11 extraordinary chefs battle it out for the coveted title and grand prize of $100,000 courtesy of Interac, a luxurious Monogram kitchen valued at $25,000 and $5,000 worth of Cuisinart® products. Spanning from coast to coast, these professional chefs represent the next generation of Canada’s culinary elite and now it’s their time to showcase their creativity and culinary prowess to impress the judges’ table. The expert panel returning this year includes Le Cordon Bleu-trained chef and television personality Eden Grinshpan as host, head judge chef Mark McEwan and resident judges: powerhouse restaurateur Janet Zuccarini, food blogger Mijune Pak and renowned food journalist and critic Chris Nuttall-Smith.

Following a nation-wide search, the competitors vying for the sought-after title of Canada’s Top Chef are:

  • Nathan Guggenheimer, 35 – Saskatoon, Sask.
  • Elia Herrera, 37 – Toronto, Ont.
  • Ross Larkin, 31 – St. John’s, N.L.
  • Jinhee Lee, 38 – Calgary, Alta.
  • JP Miron, 30 – Montreal, Que.
  • Ivana Raca, 33 – Toronto, Ont.
  • Darren Rogers, 27 – Montreal, Que.
  • Mark Singson, 29 – Vancouver, B.C.
  • Matt Sullivan, 34 – Toronto, Ont.
  • Felix Zhou, 29 – Coquitlam, B.C.
  • Jesse Zuber, 29 – Saskatoon, Sask.

In each episode, the chefs will compete in demanding Quickfire and Elimination Challenges that push their skills to new limits. Serving their dishes weekly to the resident judging panel, they will also need to win over the palates of celebrated guest judges featured throughout the series. This season, guest judges include chef-owners of some of Toronto’s best-known restaurants, such as Lynn Crawford (Ruby Watchco), Susur Lee (Fring’s, Lee), Rob Gentile (Buca, Bar Buca) and Alexandra Feswick (Drake Devonshire). Top Chef Canada alum returning as guest judges include Steve Gonzales of Baro, Dustin Gallagher of 416 Snack Bar as well as Top Chef Canada: All-Stars winner, Nicole Gomes of Calgary’s Cluck ‘N’ Cleaver. Additionally, Evan Funke, L.A.-based chef and co-owner (with Janet Zuccarini) of the acclaimed Felix restaurant, and Danny Bowien, chef-owner of New York’s Mission Chinese Food, also join as guest judges.

Food Network Canada is available on a National Free Preview from March 1 to April 30. Please check local listings for additional details.

Top Chef Canada is the homegrown version of the hit Emmy Award-winning NBCUniversal Series Top Chef and is produced by Insight Production Company Ltd. in association with Food Network Canada.

Executive Producers are John Brunton and Mark Lysakowski, and Co-Executive Producer and Showrunner is Eric Abboud.

 

 

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Canada’s culinary elite wanted: Top Chef Canada auditions are open

From a media release:

Canada’s most prestigious and high-stakes culinary competition is back for another season! The nation-wide search for the best chefs to compete in the sixth season of Top Chef Canada begins today.

Information on how to apply to be on Top Chef Canada is now available at TopChefCanadaCasting.ca.

In order to be considered, interested applicants must be a Canadian citizen or permanent resident and be at least 19 years of age as of June 1, 2017. For complete details and to apply online, access the casting site here. Casting opens today, June 26, and closes on August 18, 2017 at 6 p.m. ET.

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Top Chef Canada All-Stars gets worldly and cuts one chef

Man, did it feel great to tune into Top Chef Canada again: I didn’t realize how much I’d truly missed the franchise until the all-stars were back in the kitchen, dripping sweat and expletives on the way to creating foodie pieces of art.

And, after a crash course in how tough this season is going to be, the 11 remaining we back at it on Sunday night.

In “Street Markets of the World … Unite,” the Quickfire Challenge began innocently enough, with the Top 11 expected to produce perfect mise en place. This isn’t the first time that’s been done on Top Chef Canada, but the All-Stars edition came with a bit of a twist in the first round: filleting sea bass. I expected Todd Perrin to ace this one—he works with seafood every day—and he was the first to complete it. He, Dustin, Nicole, Andrea, Trevor, Jonathan, Jesse and Dennis moved on to Round 2. (Connie’s laser beam eyes betrayed her disappointment.) Shallots were up next and the chefs had to brunoise (dice to 1/8 of an inch) as many as they could in three minutes. Jesse, Todd, Dennis, Jonathan and Andrea made it to Round 3: shuck as many oysters as possible in four minutes. Dennis, who aced this test back in Season 1 in an arm cast did it again on Sunday with 14 perfect oysters. (Like Eden, my mouth was watering seeing all those mollusks lined up for consumption.) Dennis and Andrea (who shucked 13) went head-to-head in the finale: creating a plate using all of the ingredients they’d just prepped in 15 minutes.

It was interesting to see Dennis and Andrea’s different visions for their food—he went with Vietnamese sweet and sour soup accented by fish and oysters and she decided the sea bass was the star of her plate—and then observe Mark McEwan and Eden’s reactions. Andrea won out (I was so hungry looking at that fish) and scored immunity for the week.

Food markets around the world are bursting with ingredients unique to their regions and served as the theme for Sunday’s Elimination Challenge. Andrea’s advantage was being able to choose which country’s food she wanted to prepare and joined Brussels alongside Nicole and Curtis. The test was for the chefs to serve their plates to folks in a pop-up market at Toronto’s Artscape Wychwood Farms where patrons and Susur Lee voted on the best. But, rather than working as teams, everyone was on their own to come up with a recipe idea, prepping and serving to 75.

Several recipes intrigued me, among them, Nicole’s Brussels themed Morrocco dog (grilled ground lamb and spiral fries), Trevor’s grilled meat and “dirty” salad and Connie’s chilled Vietnamese noodle salad with crispy fried pork belly. (As an aside, how tragic was Connie’s story? Learning she was spending a month away from her dying mother to compete on Top Chef Canada shows how much she wants to compete.)

As usual, Susur Lee was a perfect guest judge, able to enjoy food and point out where improvements could be made. (I’d be happy if he was there every week.) Tops in the judges’ eyes were Trista’s grilled lamb saddle, Dennis’ prawn toasts and Nicole’s potato-wrapped ground lamb, with Dennis winning the challenge. It was an impressive feat considering he had to completely rework the recipe after the empanada dough fail on Day 1.

Trevor, Todd and Connie found themselves in the bottom and in danger of being eliminated. It was the second week in a row for Todd, who was criticized for being too safe with his cod salad. Like he did last week, Todd opined the flavour was too much for the judging panel and Chris Nuttall-Smith shot back that Todd was simply being too safe. Connie’s emotional plea to remain in the competition was certainly heartfelt and I think she’s lucky Todd was there to be picked off. (I’d love to see him in Top Chef Canada: Seniors.)

Top Chef Canada: All-Stars airs Sundays at 10 p.m. ET/PT on Food Network Canada.

Images courtesy of Corus.

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Top Chef Canada: All-Stars returns … and burns one chef

All I can say is, it was about time. About time Top Chef Canada not only returned to our screens but in an All-Stars edition. After a couple of years away, the homegrown version of the popular culinary franchise returned Sunday with 12 former contestants ready for another shot at the title, a fancy kitchen and $100,000.

But as interesting as it was to see chefs like Andrea Nicholson, Trevor Bird, Trista Sheen and Curtis Luk back, a lot of focus was on Mark McEwan’s new co-stars: host Eden Grinshpan and resident judges Janet Zuccarini, Mijune Pak and Chris Nuttall-Smith. Watching the chefs arrive in the swanky, shiny, huge new Top Chef Canada kitchen, I immediately had a soft spot for Connie DeSousa, Dustin Gallagher, Andrea and Todd Perrin. The four were in the inaugural season of Top Chef Canada and lost to Dale McKay, but they were under the heat lamps as the competitors in this country’s first foray into the franchise. I’m hoping one of them wins. (As an aside, I’ve eaten at Perrin’s Mallard Cottage and it is fantastic.)

A new, fiery Quickfire Challenge logo kicked off Sunday’s debut, as the dozen chefs were tasked with making something reflecting Canada’s four seasons. Spring meant asparagus and other fresh, green, young shoots, autumn was apples and pumpkins and winter meant rooty, rustic ingredients like kale. The biggest challenge, and a harbinger of what toughness is coming this season? They had a mere 25 minutes to make something. No roasting or slow cooking of anything would be possible. Any feel good backslapping during the challenge was quickly quelled when Dennis and Curtis were told their creations weren’t good enough. Dustin and Connie were tops, with the former taking the win. The self-professed class clown of Season 1 has come to cook.

As for the Elimination Challenge, a brilliant bit of work by the producers meant every chef was presented with the ingredients that got them eliminated from Top Chef Canada the first time around. The shocked looks on their faces was enjoyable and I’m all for haunting them with bad memories. What was impressive was that almost all of them decided to re-create the plate that got them cut, aiming to prove their initial idea was sound, if not the taste. With two hours of pre-prep under their belts, the 12 headed to Toronto’s Lavelle for 60 minutes of cooking and service.

Nuttall-Smith may have hidden behind a byline as a food critic for The Globe and Mail, but he didn’t hold back on Sunday night, despite everyone knowing what he looks like. He called Elizabeth’s crispy pig ear salad “greasy diner food” that was “hamfisted.” Zuccarini said she didn’t want to eat another bite of that salad. Ooof. The two were equally impressed with Connie’s chocolate souffle with peanut butter ganache and Andrea’s bison. Clearly, the pair are ready to be critical when they have to as well as praise what excites them. That’s what you want from judges on a show like this.

Andrea, Trista and Curtis exorcised old demons when they were chosen as the Top 3 chefs for the week, with Trista pocketing $5,000 for her pot au feu. (Can I also mention I love that Judges’ Table takes place on the set this season, rather than a separate space like before?) Jonathan, Elizabeth and Todd found themselves on the bottom and Todd got downright feisty when Pak suggested his fruit crumble may have been good enough for his restaurant, but not the Top Chef Canada kitchen. And just like that, Elizabeth was told to pack her knives and go.

Top Chef Canada: All-Stars airs Sundays at 10 p.m. ET/PT on Food Network Canada.

Images courtesy of Corus.

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