Over a year ago, I decided to take a leap of faith and send an application to become a Chef/Competitor on The Food Network show Chopped Canada. The application was straight forward and asked a series of food and career related questions so producers of the show could gain insight into who I am and my skills as a Chef. Among the questions was: “Tell us something about yourself no one would know by looking at you?”. Took me a while to answer that one; I have so many things I could have said, but had to narrow it down to what I thought would peak their interest. (I won’t give away my response, but it is revealed on the episode!)
Several weeks later I received an email which said over 500 chefs had applied; those they thought promising were invited to an interview and an on camera audition at the Royal York Hotel in Toronto. I was one of the 104 CHOSEN ones!
Filming took place back in June 2014 and my episode just aired (June 27th, 2015). For an entire year I had to keep quiet about the details of the show – and of course the outcome. Truthfully, I only knew my outcome and that of one other chef. Even during media interviews I could not divulge anything that may give away the results. We had strict rules to abide by which was a tough go, as many knew I was going on the show and wanted to know, DID I WIN? All I could say was, I accomplished everything I set out to do and more; it was an experience I would certainly do over again, in a heartbeat!
To give you a better understanding of the journey, our day began at 6:30 am and wrapped up at whatever point a chef made it to in the competition. The time to film the rounds is much longer than what you see on TV – each one lasting about 3 hours, start to finish! The cooking time you see on the show is exactly as presented, no more no less – so, no sympathy from the clock! The rest of the time was preparation for camera shots, adjusting sound, resetting the kitchen…thankfully, it wasn’t live TV and we had a slight breather between rounds!
My episode is Season 2: Episode 25 – “The World is Your Lobster”.
Our Mystery Baskets contained:
- Round One: Appetizer – 1.5 lb Live Lobster, Grape Jelly, Matzo Crackers, Mushroom Soup
- Round Two: Entrée – 2 lb Pot Roast, Mini Eddos, Fresh Sorrel, Frozen Concentrated Fruit Punch
- Round Three: Dessert – Truffle Oil, Tiger Tail Ice Cream, Chinese Black Vinegar, Brownie
From the second we opened our baskets it was GO!!! Rampaging through a pantry and refrigerators filled with so many items your head was spinning and only so many minutes to figure out how to pull it all together; prep, create, cook and present something edible, colourful and tasty! Not to mention the kitchen was spread out over a very large area with only one sink at the back, 3 other Chefs, fixed cameras, camera men, lights, wires and no ventilation. It was HOT, slightly dangerous and very intense, with no time to rethink any mistakes made – nobody wanted to hear a Judge say, “That’s the worst thing I’ve ever tasted”!
I came away from the day elated and energised. I am proud of myself and my accomplishment in the Chopped Canada kitchen – and proud of my fellow Competitors… We Rocked It! A few things got away from me in the heat of battle, but I wouldn’t trade the experience. If you haven’t had a chance to view the episode, you can catch it on the Food Network Canada website (seems to work for Canada only) – it should be on the Chopped Canada YouTube Channel shortly.
Oh and did I mention? I’m allergic to Lobster!