Everything about Top Chef Canada, eh?

Top Chef Canada: All-Stars returns with former chefs and new-look judges

Twelve recognizable faces return for this Sunday’s debut of Top Chef Canada: All-Stars. Thirteen, actually, if you include head judge Mark McEwan. But the culinary competition—airing at 10 p.m. ET on the specialty network—boasts four new faces to help McEwan whittle down the dozen hopefuls to one grand prize winner who will pocket $100,000, a Monogram kitchen worth $25,000 and the to-this-point elusive title of Top Chef Canada.

Alongside McEwan are resident judges in former Globe and Mail restaurant critic Chris Nuttall-Smith, author and food contributor Mijune Pak, restaurateur Janet Zuccarini and host Eden Grinshpan.

“We’ve had a lot of fun,” McEwan says during a recent conference call with the judging panel. “Our different personalities work perfectly. Everybody comes at it from their own angle, but all of the comments are complementary. Eden was kind of the wild card as the host, but she turned into a rock star. There was a great energy on set.” Nuttall-Smith, after spending a decade as a secretive food critic for a national newspaper, has stepped into the glare of television cameras for the first time but didn’t wilt under the pressure of critiquing dishes to a chef’s face.

“When you are a restaurant critic, you keep things secretive so you some semblance of regularity when it comes to service,” he says. “And you also do it so that the chef doesn’t come and stand table-side and ask you what you thought. You never have to look them in the eyes. When you are in a competition like this, it’s face to face and that is humbling but also a lot more direct and it works. It’s not always comfortable, but this season the calibre of chefs is so high that you often find yourself tripping over yourself to capture just how exciting and beautiful a dish was.”

The Top Chef Canada chefs returning to create those dishes are Season 1’s Connie DeSousa, Dustin Gallagher, Andrea Nicholson and Todd Perrin; Season 2’s Trevor Bird, Jonathan Korecki, Curtis Luk, Elizabeth Rivasplata and Trista Sheen; Season 3’s Nicole Gomes and Dennis Tay; and Season 4’s Jesse Vergen. Nicholson may have once worked for Zuccarini, but the owner of Toronto hot spots Café Nervosa, Gusto 101 and PAI Northern Thai Kitchen didn’t let that influence her taste buds.

“These are professionals,” Zuccarini says. “These are people who own their own restaurants and I’m judging at that level. I’m not judging at an amateur level or somebody who is a line cook. These guys are high calibre and that’s what we’re looking for. And they brought it. Andrea did work for me, but I didn’t favour anyone, even if I wanted to.”

The resident judges were mum on specific details when it came to the challenges the chefs face but we do know several guests drop by to critique the proceedings, including Chopped Canada‘s Susur Lee, John Higgins, Lynn Crawford and Antonio Park; Lidia Bastianich; Sugar Showdown‘s Josh Elkin; and Daniel Boulud.

“We have an amazing new set design,” Pak says of Sunday’s debut. “The panel makes for some really interesting conversation and insight into food.”

“And the only injuries were to pride,” Nuttall-Smith says with a laugh.

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

Images courtesy of Corus.


Food Network Canada announces Top Chef Canada: All Stars cast

From a media release:

Canada’s most prestigious and high-stakes culinary competition is back with Top Chef Canada: All-Stars. For the first time in Canadian franchise history, Top Chef Canada brings some of the country’s most accomplished chefs from past seasons to battle it out for a chance to earn what has eluded them all: the title of Canada’s Top Chef.

Twelve all-star chefs compete in cutthroat challenges and receive bold critiques from the judging panel which includes recently announced host Eden Grinshpan, head judge chef Mark McEwan and esteemed resident judges Chris Nuttall-Smith, Mijune Pak, and Janet Zuccarini. This season, the returning chefs unpack their knives and fight for a chance to win a $100,000 grand prize courtesy of Interac Flash and a Monogram kitchen valued at over $25,000. Top Chef Canada: All-Stars premieres Sunday, April 2 at 10 p.m. ET/PT on Food Network Canada.

Meet the 12 chefs returning to the Top Chef Canada kitchen for a second chance at winning it all:

  • Connie DeSousa – Season 1, Calgary, AB.
  • Dustin Gallagher – Season 1, Toronto, ON.
  • Andrea Nicholson – Season 1, Toronto, ON.
  • Todd Perrin – Season 1, Quidi Vidi Village, NL.
  • Trevor Bird – Season 2, Vancouver, BC.
  • Jonathan Korecki – Season 2, Ottawa ON.
  • Curtis Luk – Season 2, Vancouver, BC.
  • Elizabeth Rivasplata – Season 2, Toronto, ON.
  • Trista Sheen – Season 2, Toronto, ON.
  • Nicole Gomes – Season 3, Calgary, AB.
  • Dennis Tay – Season 3, Toronto, ON.
  • Jesse Vergen – Season 4, Saint John, NB.

Throughout the competition, the chefs serve up refined dishes for acclaimed culinary guest judges including: Chopped Canada judges Lynn Crawford, John Higgins, Susur Lee and Antonio Park; Sugar Showdown host Josh Elkin; television personality, cookbook author and restaurateur Lidia Bastianich; culinary superstar, chef and restaurateur Daniel Boulud; chef/owner of Raymonds in downtown St. John’s Jeremy Charles; celebrity chef, restaurateur and cookbook author Maneet Chauhan; chef/owner of Montreal’s Maison Publique Derek Dammann; food writer and cookbook author Sabrina Ghayour; chef/owner of Montreal’s Toqué! and Brasserie T! Normand Laprise; owner of Big Gay Ice Cream Doug Quint, and chef/owner of Toronto’s Bar Raval, Bar Isabel and El Rey Mezcal Bar, Grant Van Gameren.


Top Chef Canada: All Stars turns up the heat

From a media release:

Top Chef Canada is back for its fiercest season yet! Turning up the heat for a brand-new season of Canada’s most prestigious and high stakes culinary competition, Top Chef Canada: All-Stars kicks off its return by introducing an all-star roster of talent to the judges’ table. Le Cordon Bleu-trained chef and television personality Eden Grinshpan (Chopped Canada) joins as host alongside Head Judge Chef Mark McEwan. Esteemed Resident Judges rounding out the panel include acclaimed restaurant critic and writer Chris Nuttall-Smith; Mijune Pak, food writer and creator of Follow Me Foodie; and powerhouse restaurateur Janet Zuccarini.

For the first time in Top Chef Canada history, chefs from past seasons return to face cutthroat challenges and bold critiques from Canada’s most refined palates as they battle for the title that has eluded them all. Top Chef Canada: All-Stars premieres Sunday, April 2 at 10 p.m. ET/PT on Food Network Canada.

Meet the Top Chef Canada: All-Stars host and judges’ panel:

  • Eden Grinshpan, Host: Graduate of both cuisine and pastry at Le Cordon Bleu, Eden is a judge on Chopped Canada and hosted her own food adventure series Eden Eats on Cooking Channel in the U.S.
  • Mark McEwan, Head Judge: Mark is a revered chef and restaurateur. As a leader in Canada’s food scene, Mark is owner of One Restaurant, Bymark, Fabbrica and McEwan Foods.
  • Chris Nuttall-Smith, Resident Judge: Chris is a critically-acclaimed food writer and restaurant critic, most recently spending 10 years as a columnist for the Globe and Mail.
  • Mijune Pak, Resident Judge: Mijune runs culinary adventure blog Follow Me Foodie, is a published author and regular food contributor for a variety of Canadian news outlets.
  • Janet Zuccarini, Resident Judge: Janet is a well-known Toronto restaurateur, owning Toronto hot spots Café Nervosa, Gusto 101 and PAI Northern Thai Kitchen.

This season, returning all-star chefs unpack their knives and come back to fight for a chance to win a $100,000 grand prize courtesy of Interac Flash and a Monogram kitchen valued at over $25,000. Stay tuned for more information on which all-star chefs are slated to compete in this must-see event.


The trend: Reality Show X Canada


By Graeme Stewart

Shaw Media’s 2013/14 slates includes a robust line-up of both new and original Canadian series for the upcoming broadcast year. What’s become abundantly clear over the last few years is that Canadian television is embracing reality content in a big way. Obvious renewals for shows like Big Brother Canada and Top Chef Canada rounded out a list that also included several auction shows and some new scripted series. Bell has ordered Masterchef Canada. While it’s great to see a healthy amount of Canadian shows getting the green light, I can’t help feeling a little underwhelmed by the orders.

The slew of reality television set to hit Canadian airwaves this year is understandable – the selected shows are low-cost, high-reward concepts that can easily translate across international borders. The problem, however, is that this focus takes us away from where we should be as a country that prides itself on our culture. Furthermore, it compounds the Canadian television industry’s reputation as significantly risk-averse.

The merits of reality television have been debated in the North American media since Survivor, itself a Swedish import, debuted in 1997 on CBS. I can’t argue against the economic choice to develop a higher reality slate. Import or otherwise these programs have a proven ability to draw in audiences, advertising, and are cheaply produced. I can also see the narrative value inherent in a cross country collection of characters of ranging absurdity. It can be a pleasure to step out of your respective province and watch a young Montreal chef competing against the best of the country in Top Chef Canada, or a Calgary cowboy playing Godfather against a Nova Scotian schoolteacher and Toronto drag-queen in Big Brother Canada. The entertainment value is high, and we’ve proven that Canadian reality TV can be just as exciting and engaging as the content produced by our Southern neighbours.

These shows have proven themselves as guaranteed hits time and time again across all borders. The problem, then, lies in the lack of new ideas and concepts we see from our Canadian broadcasters. With international co-productions like Orphan Black and Vikings adding a heightened level of production value, writing, and acting to Canadian line-ups, is there anyone seriously asking for Storage Wars Canada?

Every show can’t be a hit. The bottled lightning combination of Orphan Black‘s international success, high-concept creativity, and critical acclaim, for instance, is rare and difficult to match. Shows like this should inspire confidence and the willingness to pursue a raised bar. They should stand in stark defiance of the easy to produce reality imports that are, at their worst, now serving as crutches to round out Canadian content.

The Golden Age of Television has largely bypassed the Canadian market, but unnecessarily so. I hope that with next year’s network slates the bar is raised a little higher than a collection of low-concept reality shows, and that the original content we can look forward to is slightly elevated beyond hospital, legal, and cop procedurals. It’s time we take ownership of the storytelling potential our nation holds in great reserves, and to translate that potential into shows that demand attention and can join the upper echelon of television production.


Shaw announces renewals including Continuum, Big Brother Canada, Top Chef Canada

From a media release:

Record-Breaking Original Series Big Brother Canada, Vikings, Continuum, Top Chef Canada and Yukon Gold Return with New Seasons

  • Over 600 Hours of Canadian Original Specialty Programming

Following a record breaking season on one of Canada’s hottest entertainment destinations, Slice has renewed Big Brother Canada, the number one specialty reality series of the year, for a second season.

From Lost and Sold, the unclaimed goods auction series, to tapping into the fascinating world of collecting in Extreme Collectors, Slice brings viewers a range of new original series chock-full of drama, comedy and the deliciously unexpected.

Showcase is excited to announce that the channel’s number one original series Continuum has been greenlit for a third season.

As well, the Canadian original crime drama Copper returns with a powerhouse lineup of guest stars, including Emmy® and Golden Globe®-winning actress Alfre Woodward, Billy Baldwin and Donal Logue.

Viewers can also look forward to new seasons of Showcase’s top-rated original series Lost Girl, Beauty and the Beast and Haven.

In a year that saw it claim eight of the top 20 specialty entertainment programs2, HISTORY® upheld its position as Canada’s number one specialty entertainment channel. This fall, Canadian Restorers introduces viewers to another group of larger-than-life Canadian characters: the employees of The Guild. HISTORY recognizes the 20th anniversary of Canada’s mission to Sarajevo with the insider documentary Sector Sarajevo. Returning in 2014 are Vikings, this year’s number one specialty entertainment drama, and Yukon Gold, HISTORY’s number one Canadian documentary series this year.

On the heels of another successful season of Top Chef Canada, Food Network Canada has announced the return of its number one series of all time for a fourth season4. Chopped Canada makes its highly anticipated debut to the network in 2014, bringing the hugely popular US format to Canada with host Dean McDermott (winner of Rachael vs. Guy’s Celebrity Cook-Off season two). Coming this fall are brand-new series Cutthroat Kitchen, taking the average cooking competition further than it’s ever gone before, and Guy & Rachael’s Kids Cook-Off, starring Guy Fieri, Rachael Ray and the most adorable competitors ever!

HGTV Canada’s biggest celebrities are packing the schedule this fall with new seasons of Holmes Makes It Right with Mike Holmes, Leave It To Bryan with Bryan Baeumler, Income Property with Scott McGillivray, and also brand-new series Real Potential with Sarah Richardson and Undercover Overhaul with the Cousins starring the hugely popular Anthony Carrino and John Colaneri. The channel’s number one series two years running, Canada’s Handyman Challenge, returns with judges Bryan Baeumler, Scott McGillivray and Paul Lafrance.

Experiencing a year of incredible growth, National Geographic Canada landed as a top 15 specialty channel, achieving an all-time audience high and its best season ever1. This fall, Canadians can play along with Brain Games host Jason Silva as he delves deep into the human brain.