Tag Archives: Food Network

Preview: Fire Masters grills up tasty vittles on the road to $10,000

I like to fancy myself a bit of an expert on grilling. Thanks to Ted Reader, I’ve mastered cedar plank salmon, grilled vegetables and to-die-for burgers. But I simply don’t have the skill needed to compete in Food Network Canada’s latest culinary competition.

Fire Masters—bowing Thursday at 10 p.m. ET/PT on the specialty network—pits three chefs against one another in a sweaty, hot and smoky test to see who can tame the fire and walk away with $10,000.

At the helm of this spark-filled challenge is professional chef, writer, restaurateur, world traveller and—currently running a private chef service and consulting company in the Cayman Islands—Barrie, Ont., native Dylan Benoit. The bearded, pony-tailed chef introduces the three chefs ready to do battle in three rounds and, as done on Chopped, one is eliminated until a sole chef is left standing. Unlike Chopped, however, the final competitor goes head-to-head with one of the episode’s judges. In the case of Thursday’s debut, that means Connie DeSousa, Ray Lampe or Hugh Mangum.

The first challenge tasks the trio with creating a dish that reflects who they are. This is a tactic used to great effect on Top Chef Canada because it not only shows off a chef’s skills but their influences as well. With just 30 minutes on the clock, Fire Masters becomes an orgy of flashing stainless steel, glowing embers and egos. After a visit and taste by the judges, one chef is cut from the competition.

In the second challenge, the remaining two are asked to prepare fish, with the Round 1 winner getting an advantage. If this all sounds a little of Top Chef Canada, I wholeheartedly agree. In fact, I zipped to the end of the screener to see if it was made by the same production company. It’s from Architect Films (Home to Win, Great Canadian Cottages), but Fire Masters sure has a lot of Top Chef Canada‘s DNA. And, since it’s a proven formula, why not go for it?

The departure of that formula is, of course, having the Round 2 winner face off against one of the judges. And, in Thursday’s first episode, the battle is fun as heck to watch. I won’t give away the results, but you like cooking over flames and the competition of Top Chef Canada, you’re going to like these budding Fire Masters.

Fire Masters airs Thursdays at 10 p.m. ET/PT on Food Network Canada.

Image courtesy of Food Network Canada.

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Food Network Canada’s Top Chef Canada returns with a never-seen-before twist

From a media release:

Food Network Canada’s #1 series last spring*, Top Chef Canada, returns with the nation’s best and brightest professional chefs as they prepare to enter the toughest culinary competition in the country starting Monday, April 1 at 10 p.m. ET/PT. Representing the coming of age in the Canadian culinary scene, 11 chefs enter the competition and are introduced to a brand-new twist that sees three talented chef contenders compete against each other in order to earn the coveted 12th spot in the competition.

Prepared to impress the judges, each chef must spark the taste buds of Top Chef Canada’s expert panel of judges comprised of chef, restaurant co-owner and host, Eden Grinshpan, owner of The McEwan Group, head judge chef Mark McEwan and resident judges: powerhouse restaurateur Janet Zuccarini, writer and international food personality Mijune Pak and renowned food journalist and critic Chris Nuttall-Smith. This season the chefs will compete for the prestigious title of Canada’s Top Chef and the grand prize of $100,000 provided by Interac Corp., a design-inspired Café kitchen, a culinary tour of Italy for two from Air Transat and $5,000 worth of Cuisinart® products.

Following a nation-wide search, this season’s competitors represent Canada’s culinary scene from coast to coast and beyond including Dartmouth, N.S., Quebec City, Que., Tofino, B.C., Toronto, Ont., Vancouver, B.C., and more. The 11 competitors confirmed to compete for the title of Canada’s Top Chef are:

  • Tania Ganassini, 31 – Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ont.
  • Takeshi Horinoue, 37 – Montreal, Que.
  • Hayden Johnston, 29 – Toronto, Ont.
  • Sebastien Laframboise, 31 – Quebec City, Que.
  • Renée Lavallée, 43 – Dartmouth, N.S.
  • Paul Moran, 31 – Tofino, B.C.
  • Dennis Peckham, 41 – Port Moody, B.C.
  • Phillip Scarfone, 33 – Vancouver, B.C.
  • Erin Smith, 32 – Toronto, Ont.
  • Max Straczek, 32 – Vancouver, B.C.
  • Wallace Wong, 27 – Toronto, Ont.

In a never-seen-before twist, the three talented chef contenders set to compete for the final spot in the competition are:

  • Alexei Boldireff, 25 – Edmonton, Alta.
  • Benet Hunt, 28 – Saskatoon, Sask.
  • Paul Kim, 33 – Toronto, Ont.

This season’s Quickfire and Elimination Challenges will test the chefs’ culinary chops and demonstrate their creativity. Each week their dishes will be served to the esteemed Top Chef Canada judging panel, who will be joined by culinary masters and noted food lovers as guest judges. Some of the celebrated culinary personalities from Canada and abroad include Emma Bengtsson (Executive Chef, Aquavit, New York City, N.Y.), Richard Blais (Top Chef: All Stars winner, Owner Juniper & Ivy, San Diego, Calif.), Craig Harding (Chef and Owner, Campagnolo, La Palma and Constantine, Toronto, Ont.), James Beard award- winning restaurant critic Adam Platt, Rob Rossi (Top Chef Canada, Season 1, Chef and Owner, Giulietta,Toronto, Ont.), Marcus Samuelsson (Owner, Red Rooster, Harlem, N.Y.), and Michael Solomonov (Owner, Zahav, Philadelphia, Pa).

On foodnetwork.ca, viewers can get a sneak peek of this season’s most exhilarating locations, learn about the judges’ best ever bites from the series and get to know some of host Eden Grinshpan’s most uniquely lovable “Eden-isms.” Plus, learn more about the competitors and get their restaurant recommendations from across the country. Week-to-week, recaps will be available online highlighting the best and most shocking moments from the season. Fans can also watch full episodes online after broadcast at foodnetwork.ca/topchefcanada and On Demand with participating providers.

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

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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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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.

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New competitors bring the heat to Chopped Canada this fall

From a media release:

Twenty-eight chefs from across Canada prepare to compete for the coveted title of Chopped Canada champion in seven new episodes of Food Network Canada’s #1 original series. * In each episode, beginning Saturday, September 3 at 9 p.m. ET/PT, four skilled chefs put their culinary expertise to the test in a battle against the clock and their fellow competitors as they create three gourmet dishes from daunting mystery basket ingredients.

The chefs featured will cook before a rotating panel of expert judges including Massimo Capra, Lynn Crawford, Eden Grinshpan, John Higgins, Susur Lee, Mark McEwan, Roger Mooking, Antonio Park, Michael Smith and Anne Yarymowich. Course by course, the judges critique each meal and chop the chefs from the competition until only one remains to win the $10,000 cash prize.

Episodes of Chopped Canada currently air Saturdays at 9pm ET/PT exclusively on Food Network Canada.

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