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Top Chef Canada exit interview, episode 10: that’s a wrap

This season, we’re chatting with each week’s eliminated chef after they get the boot (or, rather, after their boot-getting episode airs—this stuff was recorded months ago).

(Image: Top Chef Canada)

This week’s eliminated chef: Trista Sheen of Crush Wine Bar

You said at the beginning of this episode that you didn’t expect to make it so far. Why is that?

You always doubt yourself, you don’t know what you’re up against. Just trying to stay humble is a good thing.

So you’re not generally a cocky chef then?

No, no [laughs]. I like to joke around, but I definitely don’t have a big head about it.

How did you think your rabbit fingers went over with Dale MacKay’s son Ayden?

I will be completely honest with you: there are certain things in certain episodes that I cannot even remember because the adrenaline is pumping so much [laughs].

OK, let’s talk about the elimination challenge then. What did you think when you first saw Marcus Samuelsson? Were you a fan?

I am definitely a fan. Years ago, when Nick [Liu, Sheen’s husband] and I got the book Aquavit, it was just so cool, it was ahead of its time. It was great, because we’ve had so many different variations of judges, to get a really well-known chef. Unfortunately, it had to be the episode when I was eliminated.

Would you say he was the judge you were most excited to cook for?

Yeah. Maybe that’s why I shit the bed? I think it was definitely one of the more stressful, hardcore episodes.

Your dish used Indian and Caribbean flavourings, right?

It was basically because I grew up in Thorncliffe/Flemingdon for 15 years. I was just trying to combine all those cultures into one, because it was a big part of my upbringing.

Are those flavours you cook with much?

Yes and no. I have used them, but it’s not like an Indian mom making it. I wasn’t born and raised with it, but I’m so used to the flavours.

Your dish had a ton of components: chicken broth with dumplings, poached chicken thigh, carrot purée, fried chicken skin.

You get your head so caught up in the competition that you start to push yourself even further. You push yourself more and more because you want to do something crazy. You want to show Canada that you are capable of doing these things. Unfortunately, it bit me in the ass, but you get your head caught up in it.

Leaving the plastic wrap on the plate—has that ever happened to you before?

No! And it had to happen on national TV! It’s tough.

And it was actually only on Marcus Samuelsson’s plate, no one else’s.

The thing is, I had no clue, obviously. Finding out at the judge’s table afterward, I was just mortified. Let’s just say I won’t be watching this episode. I planned a dinner party instead. [We spoke to Sheen on Monday, before the episode aired.]

Do you have a dish that you’d say was your best on the show?

Short answer: no. But that brunch dish, I was just so happy about it, and not because I won that episode, but just because I was so proud I built my own fire and I was able to do all those things on the fire. I was like, oh man, I want to eat this!

Have you served the dish at Crush?

Minus the squab part, that is something I would totally make at home: little pain perdus, little Lyonnaise potatoes, that sort of thing. And squab, I love working with it—I came from a Scaramouche background.

What’s your job at Crush?

I’m the executive chef, since just after Christmas. It’s been a big year for T-bird. I don’t cook as much as I used to.

Is it nice to have a break from working the line?

Yin and yang. Every once in a while I’ll get my fix, and then I’ll go back to orchestrating and emailing and that sort of thing.

Your husband, Nick Liu, is in the middle of launching his new restaurant, GwaiLo. Are you helping out with that?

You know, I have so much on my plate as it is. I like to support him when I can, but we’re definitely busy people!