My name is Seika and everything in my life has a connection to history, family, and food – the joy of cooking was something I was lucky enough to be exposed to at an early age. My grandmother in the kitchen making Sunday dinner and baking pies, my brother and I, like mad scientists creating amazing concoctions (some of which were actually edible). The Gypsy Chef moniker also comes to me from my Father’s side of the family as they are Romany who immigrated to the UK way in the 1800’s.
My Father married a country girl and the rest is history, so to speak.
After 2 years in the culinary program at George Brown College, I went on to apprentice and work in various food establishments – from a doughnut bakery to a top hotel kitchen and competed on Chopped Canada! (story below)
Being an archaeologist and artist outside of the kitchen I brought my love of history and my artistic skills to the cakes, cookies, and confections with zeal and flair and have won critical acclaim on more than one occasion for my innovative approach to creating outside the box.
The jig is up, the noose is out. They finally found me.
The renegade who had it made. Retrieved for a bounty… [Styx]
$10,000 knife fight in the Chopped Canada Kitchen!
A while 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 pique 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 a full year before my episode aired – for an entire year I had to keep quiet about the details of the show – and of course the outcome. 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 – 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, cameramen, 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 energized. 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.
Thanks to everyone who watched the show and cheered for me; love all the great comments!
Here’s the full episode of my Chopped Canada adventure! Thanks to The Food Network, Chopped Canada and Proper Television – it was a blast – and I look forward to the next adventure!
BTW, did I mention? I’m allergic to Lobster!
Black Walnut Lane Farm (Millgrove/Hamilton)
Four Seasons Hotel (Toronto)
Royal Canadian Yacht Club (Toronto)
Palais Royale (Toronto)
Ford Canada (Oakville)
Downtown BMW (Toronto)
Georgian Downs (Barrie)
Joseph’s Estate Wines Inc. (Niagara)
Southbrook Winery (Richmond Hill/Niagara)
Hamilton Opera Company (Hamilton)
Canadian Opera Company (Toronto)
Stephen Leacock Museum (Orillia)
Royal Ontario Museum (Toronto)
The Pirate Festival (Toronto)
Great Markham Rodeo (Markham)
Markham Group of Artists (Markham)
Unionville BIA (Unionville)
The Octagon (Thornhill)
Toronto International Film Festival (Toronto)
Acrobat Lounge (Toronto)
Pepsi Co. (Mississauga)
Yonge & 7 Chrysler (Richmond Hill)
…and many more private clients and personal events!