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Top Chef Canada exit interview, episode 13: runner-up

(Image: Courtesy Top Chef Canada)

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). For the finale, of course, three chefs were eliminated. We already posted a chat to this season’s winner, Carl Heinrich, and the second runner-up, Jonathan Korecki. Below, our last Q&A of the season, with the season’s runner-up, Trevor Bird.

You were not one of the more senior chefs at the top of the season. Did you think you’d make it this far?

I was confident, I just didn’t want to be cocky.

You looked pretty surprised when they told you that Xavier, Trista and David were getting a shot back in. What was going through your head?

Thank God I don’t have to cook. I was just stoked to take that afternoon and not have an anxiety attack.

When you guys were judging whose dish was the best, did you choose Trista because you thought she’d be the easiest competitor?

I honestly think she had the best-tasting food, but it wasn’t the most creative. I don’t play mind games or try to sneak around or anything.

Ok, let’s talk about your big meal. What was it like to cook for Vikram Vij? Intimidating?

No, not at all. He’s got a very relaxing persona. It’s not like he’s Gordon Ramsay, gonna scream at you for doing anything.

What was the thinking behind sending out an amuse-bouche as your first course?

To me it made perfect sense. When you’re opening up a four-course meal, the judges are going to eat 16 courses, why the hell would I send out huge portions? The amuse was very appropriate—it’s very acidic and it gets your saliva going and makes your mouth water and it makes you want to keep on going. I really don’t see a problem with it—it almost angers me that they had a problem with it.

You were a chef de partie before Top Chef Canada. Was this your first big tasting menu?

No, I’ve been chef at many other restaurants. The kitchen market in Vancouver is completely nuts—Vancouver is the only place that I have not been in charge. But I’m at my own place now.

How’s Fable, your new place, going?

It’s crazy, it’s awesome. We get amazing reviews, people are super stoked.

And Curtis Luk from your season is working for you?

Yeah, he’s my chef de cuisine, and he designs the dessert menu, because as you all know, he’s great at it, and I’m just brutal at desserts.

Unlike in the finale of the U.S. version of Top Chef this year, you were very gracious when Lisa Ray announced Carl was the winner. What were you thinking?

First, let me say, I’m a pretty easygoing guy. And Carl, he is an incredible chef. I mean, he deserves it: he’s been head chef at his place a long time, and he works really hard. And I’ve had it a little bit on easy street as a chef de partie at a hotel. I got paid really well, and it was an easy job. He heavily influenced me to open my place. And within the six weeks that we hung out, he was a big influence on my style of cookery. I’ve always known I like farm-to-table food, I’ve always known that I like super seasonal, fresh ingredients. But just talking with him and hanging out with him was a big inspiration to me. It pisses me off and I hate to admit it, but I really do think he deserved to win. Honestly though, I’m still disappointed, because the food that I served was fucking incredible. I’m not going to deny that.

I think you really surprised the judges too. They were oohing and aahing over your third course.

Seeing how everything went down, it’s kind of disappointing. If I look at the show as a whole, Carl deserved to win. If it was straight up that episode, I think I should have won. He won a lot. He was clearly the season’s winner. And even when he was in the bottom, you knew he wasn’t going home. And his food is always technically perfect. Always.

What was it like watching yourself on TV?

Hilarious. They could have made me look so bad, but they didn’t for some reason. So I’ll thank them forever for that. The camping episode? I was shitting it for the first hour, but they made that look really good, thank God. I’m really happy with the way everything went. I mean, I can’t complain—I got a restaurant out of it!