Tag Archives: Mark McEwan

Top Chef Canada: Episode 3

Episode 3 has come and gone.  It was a little bit dull, like a Russian egg sans caviar.   Which there was no excuse for in this episode, the fridges were overflowing with the sustainably hatched delicacy.

Well, let’s go through it and decide:  dull or small spark of interest?

1.  Chef McEwan was wearing a silky billowing blue  shirt.  It was a “I can dine finely but still look casual enough for a movie afterward.”  Perhaps he planned to check out a rom-com after last week’s sad dishes.  Maybe Baby Boom– why didn’t he think of organic baby food before Diane Keaton?

2. Darryl says its time to bring his “A -Game” (yes, please. C-game is getting stale) and Steve confesses that cooking changed his life.   Francois mentions something about “bringing it”. Maybe he means he’s finished cooking the raw egg dish from last week.

3. Quickfire Challenge for immunity.

Very cool actually.  20 ingredients in a box covering sweet, spicy, salty and sour.  The chefs had to taste them blindfolded. You may have had this experience if you’ve ever been forced to taste baby food blindfolded at a baby shower (in the case of baby food you also quickly realize why kids start to hate vegetables at an early age.  Because they taste like pureed poison. Sorry Diane Keaton)

The chefs sampled items such as arugula, fermented beans, miso, sea asparagus, anchovy, beets and watermelon juice.

Chris won with a high score of 13.  Francois didn’t even bother to guess on many and managed to identify only 1.  The taste of fear.  Then he challenged any viewers who might be laughing at him to “try it–you’ll see”.   You’ll be sorry was unspoken.

Best guess of the night, Steve calls eggplant “a dry-ass cucumber”.

4. Elimination Challenge:  Dan Aykroyd arrives with his Crystal Head Vodka and the chefs are divided into 2 teams and have to prepare a Russian zakuski meal.  Essentially hot and cold appetizers–pickled onion, kolbasa, cold fish dishes and such- all requiring strong visual appeal.

So the green team was set up as the team of potential implosion–it had the good: Rob, Andrea, Connie and the bad: Jamie, Darryl and Derek. (I always forget about him until I see his “cap”).  I guess the cap says, “oh yah-the guy in the cap!”

Blue Team was all go, go, go.  Dale was pissed that Chris didn’t “man-up” (since he had immunity) and take on the dessert course, often a surefire ticket to failure. Ultimately B&B Todd took it on (making a good waffle is halfway to making a good dessert).   Dale declared himself the leader.

Green Team was “each man for himself” or as Andrea put it, “It’s Top Chef, not Top Team Chef.”  She seemed to have the revelation this episode that she could kick some serious man-chef ass.  Go Andrea.  We also learned that Connie was a ballerina for eighteen years which gave her the discipline to keep a straight face while realizing that half her team was a bunch of duds.

5. Final Judgment:  In a well manipulated TV upset, the green team pulled off the most consistently good zakuski for the judges (including Aykroyd and Frank Chef Anne Yarymowich).  Connie nailed a cold dish of smoked garlic sausage, hand-made Kasha and barley lavash and won the challenge. Andrea also rocked the Crystal Skull with sauerkraut, smoked speck, pork loin and ribs, with a veal-and-rye bread meatball.

FYI-Dessert Todd ended up doing an impressive job making a parsnip blini.

Poor Connie, excited about her prize of a weekend in LA, must have been stricken when she realized she was actually committed to cooking meals for the Aykroyds for two days. (cleverly disguised as an invite to “come cook with my wife Donna in our kitchen.”)

And the bottom four came from the blue team.

Dale: “I thought my fishy tasting fish was just perfect”

Chris: “I won’t make dessert, I’d make a flavourless sausage.”

Steve: “I thought the bacon foam on my one-pot-potato salad was like seasoning the whole dish”

Patrick: “tasted good but looked bad”

Since, Chris had immunity it was down to the other three.  Steve was sent packing.  I felt some sad.  I might need a bad rom-com to cheer me up.  Maybe the one where Aaron Eckhart and Catherine Zeta-Jones play chefs.

In Episode 3 the cooking was much improved, but overall I felt like the whole show could have been cut down to half an hour.  The other half could have been a chef cock fight, where the chefs drinks lots of Crystal Head vodka, dress in mascot costumes and fight each other in a ring made of caviar.  Just a thought.


Filed under Top Chef Canada Season 1

Top Chef Canada- Episode 2:

What did we learn on Top Chef Canada: Battle Cheese last night?

Well, not a heck of a lot about cheese.  The chefs seemed like they’d be more comfortable cooking with spiny insect legs than showcasing Canadian fromage.

What else did we learn?

Jamie is going to SNAP.  I called it first.

Quickfire Challenge:

The chefs were asked to prepare an inspiring breakfast dish from a table laden down with 2000 kgs of cheese (that no one seemed to know anything about).

The highight/lowlight (they go together just ask your hairdresser) was Clayton’s Dali-esque melted cheese wedge (serving size for 6) that looked like it had been run through the microwave on high for 10 minutes before serving.

Silly Clayton, if you’re going to microwave cheese it should be on a Triscuit.

KILL the cheese, KILL KILL the cheese. (oops sorry, that was Jamie’s inside voice escaping)

I did very much appreciate Connie’s Monte Cristo, quail egg and Truffle cheddar plate. (I officially have a girl-chef crush)

And of course Todd’s winning “Toad in the Hole” using the Avonlea Clothbound cheddar (only clothbound made in Canada) so Todd has immunity.

The best whine/excuse (they go together just ask any toddler)  came from Francois, “I wouldn’t be on the bottom if my eggs weren’t raw.”   He later added, “Stupid non-cooking eggs. It’s not fair.”  And kicked some dirt.

Which takes us to:

The Instant Elimination Round: 

Francois, Clayton and Dale, whose “inspiring breakfasts” were only inspiring if you were using reverse chefology, were put into a 20 minute instant elimination.  Goal: Make an amuse-bouche with anything in the kitchen.

Francois made an amuse with foie gras and walnuts which Chef McEwan said, “exploded in the mouth”.  I really liked Dale’s melon, cilantro (?) concoction…..fresh and simple.  And I honestly cannot read my writing and figure out what Clayton made.  Which is appropriate as Mark McEwan axed him.

Bye Clayton.  Peace.

The Elimination Challenge: 

The chefs were paired up to make hors d’oeuvres using cheese and inspired by their teammate.

All you need to know is that Jamie was paired up with Darryl Crumb (if that’s your real name) whose hors d’oeuvres dish was inspired by Jamie’s farting (so he eloquently explained).

Let me break it down-

Jamie +farting = blue cheese risotto.

Jamie in turn made a roulade which was so large and not “bite-size” I imagine it was inspired by the rolled carpet Jamie would like to hide Daryll’s body in after he beats him to death with a whisk.

Other teams were more successful (Connie and Todd) and Chef McEwan was impressed by the fact that Rob’s Cobb Salad did not fall into any society cleavage.

It was great to see cheese-guru Julia Rogers as a guest judge on the show.  She looked lovely and super buff and I am sorry she had to be caught on camera trying to gnaw through Jamie’s death roulade.


Andrea wins the challenge by creating a cheese hors d’oeuvre in which one can actually taste the cheese and swallow it without gagging.  Sound easy? Apparently Steve’s grilled cheese “tasted nothing like a grilled cheese”.  (Maybe it’s a molecular gastronomy thing- it’s a grilled cheese but it tastes like air!)

So final reckoning leaves the following waiting for elimination:

Dustin: “grease explosion”

Jamie: “only a cheese sauce could make this worse”

Rebeckah: “does she understand savoury?”

Darryl: “farting and food”

At this point Jamie lets loose his inner tattletale-chef and whines about being “left all alone” by Daryll to tend the station and how it was “all HIS fault”. (Eyes getting crazier by the second.)

Daryll lets loose his not-so-inner thug-chef and vocalizes his wish to ram Jamie’s head into a frozen ice rink/brain damage surface (they go together just ask the NHL).

You know neither of them is going home.  This is good drama.

So, its bye-bye Rebekah, who apparently just found out her restaurant went bankrupt while she was on the show.  Double whammy.

But on the bright side, perhaps she’ll be one of the only people to escape alive after Jamie’s sure-to-happen killing spree.

Errrr…elimination round.


Filed under Top Chef Canada Season 1

Top Chef Canada: Episode 1:

Voila, my  Top Chef Canada observations:

1. I loved the Filet-O-Fish challenge.  What happened to all those fish afterward– staff meal?

2. Tarragon +Hollandaise = Béarnaise.  I have to ask, “What were you thinking chefs who added tarragon in the “Hollandaise challenge”?”  (though I do prefer a Béarnaise sauce and understand that if you’re hungry and craving steak frites your impulses might get the better of you.)

3. Go Chef Connie DeSousa.  She is my fave.  Did you see how calm she was during the challenges?  Calm and deceptively fast I bet.  And the woman MADE a sausage for the first cooking challenge.  I think if you’ve made a sausage you should win the whole show automatically. (Plus she can butcher a pig’s head in 4 minutes.  Hello!)

4. Most heart-wrenching moment–when Francois Gagnon‘s spoon hovered over his plate and the timer went off and he was not allowed to sauce his dish.  No sauce?  Quelle horreur!  Luckily–he kicked ass anyway.  (WHAT WAS THE SAUCE!  I missed it.)

5. Moment of deflated elation:  When Rob Rossi won the elimination challenge and $2500 worth of Le Creuset cookware.  But then I realized that $2500 worth of Le Creuset only buys you about 2 large Dutch ovens (cassoulet for everyone!) and then a bunch of those little oven-safe pots that you think you’ll use to serve individual souffles or hot artichoke dip in but never do–eventually relegating them to paperclip or raisin storage.

See you next week (oh, except for Chef Michael Stauffer (he was the one that served the “vomit sauce” with his lamb–I would have eaten the lamb that rare (raw-re?) by the way Michael…..)


Filed under Top Chef Canada Season 1