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Top Chef Canada, Season 2, Episode 1 (spoilers)

Well, Canadian hounds, the first episode of Season 2 has aired and again, nobody has started a thread. Hopefully this season will be more interesting than the last and we will actually have something to talk about.

My thoughts: I'm surprised that David Chrystian did so poorly. I've eaten at his restaurant and it was pretty good. It wasn't particularly memorable but the food was well prepared. It was quite a surprise that he was on the bottom with dry chicken and bland seasoning.

Any thoughts?

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  1. is Mork McEwan still a judge??

    3 Replies
    1. re: petek

      Yes but there's a new host, Lisa Ray. She an actress and foodie. Shereen Arazm remains from last season.

      1. re: chefhound

        I really like Shereen but I wonder how many episodes she will be in this season, considering she's pregnant in the first episode.

      2. re: petek

        Is Mark McEwan the chef with the bleached blond naturally curly hair? I've enjoyed watching him on Canadian tv before several times.
        Wish we could get the Canadian cooking shows here in the states.

      3. What really ticked me off was the "I'm the only French chef in Calgary, and alright with that" comment that came from Xavier. F**k right off with that. Calgary has tons of great French chefs like Dominique Moussu. It was a really uppity and holier-than-thou comment to make.

        Sarah reminds me a lot of Beverly from Top Chef Texas, because they both came across as tough, fierce, Asian gals.

        Other then that the episode was just as bland as I imagine "Toronto spice" to be. Hopefully it gets better.

        1. SO excited to see this thread! Thanks chefhound!
          I agree in that the season, just like the chicken, was full of promise but turned out bland...
          I thought the collision was interesting, looked like the one chef from Peru had her head down and smashed into the other, but the other was kind of "blamed"?
          Looking forward to episode 2!

          7 Replies
          1. re: freia

            Hi, I'm a long time Chowhound. I also happen to be a contestant on Season 2 who made Canadian-Padma (the same thought crossed my mind when they first introduced us to her) 'deep-throat' her hors d'oeuvre. It's interesting to be on the receiving end of all these comments (since I've been on the other side watching the other TC seasons).

            About the soy sauce incident, Liz actually slipped on something just a second before, which sent her flying into Sarah. If you look carefully, Liz is already halfway to the floor when she gets doused and by that time it was somewhat unavoidable.

            1. re: Blueicus

              AH...I went through it at 1/15th speed and didn't quite see the slip, I just saw her head first kind of pile into Sarah. Didn't make sense to me but there you go.
              WOW contestant! How was that? I'd bet it is so freaking easy for all of us to sit in our comfy chairs and riff on how good or bad the results were and riff on the contestants, but it's a totally different thing to be there I'm sure, in the hot seat so to speak, with the lights shining down.
              Would you be willing to share your experiences just a bit? Or link to your blog if you have one? These shows are so interesting to me because while competition, they ARE heavily edited and I often wonder if what we see is really an accurate representation or if what we see is an editing artifact created along a story line (this is the "good" chef, this is the "nasty" chef, this is the "picked on chef", and so on...). :)

              1. re: freia

                I don't currently have a blog but I'm more than happy to share behind the scenes info (as much as I'm legally allowed to, at least) about what went on and what my thoughts were/are.

                It's the first episode and I think as such they're still trying to establish all the characters, plot lines and stuff like that. Also there's typically not that much drama to report on yet (unless you pull a Marcel and you start comparing knives/penises with your fellow roommates).

                As for the elimination challenge I agree with Carl, they're lobbing you a softball on this one and if you can't hit even his this one out of the infield then you've no place on the show. I personally think it would've been nice if they narrowed down the parameters a bit (like draw a protein or whatever,) but it's also nice to have some leeway.

                1. re: Blueicus

                  After further reading elsewhere besides than this thread your ID seemed clear to me. :-) However, I imagine it would be best if you were referred to here by your CH handle. It would be good to read your reflections and comments on the show as it progressed - thanks! - insofar as you feel able to disclose such things as the show progresses.

              2. re: Blueicus

                Ooo a contestant! The only deep throat hors d'oeuvre I remember was the cucumber sandwich... was that you?

                1. re: cellophane_star

                  the one and only... I actually appreciated her doing that, Mark has a strange habit of separating the food into its components then tasting each one individually; I feel that the effect of the whole dish is lost when it's eaten that way.

                  1. re: Blueicus

                    Cool! I look forward to your inside scoop :)

                    In season 1, my husband used to crack up when MM called something "disjointed". He used the term in every episode. Maybe it's because he separated everything!

            2. Here is an interview with Mark McEwan from the Morning Show this week

              I liked that the first elimination challenge was straight forward, and IMO, something the contestants should have considered in their prep for being on the show. I would have definitely had some ideas ready for family, hometown, mentor, etc themes.

              And I would not have been looking at the buffet and thinking, yum, lunch (although the food looked awesome). I believe we've seen a similar quick fire on TC US in a first episode.

              2 Replies
              1. re: Sooeygun

                We've all been around the Top Chef block long enough to know that everything is a potential challenge. So you are totally right -- walking in, it would have made sense to see all sorts of food and say "hmmmmm Quick Fire!". Heaves, they even did this on Project Runway in past seasons (welcome to the welcome party, your challenge is to use the clothes on your friends back/anything you kind in your hotel room/the following tablecloths to make something that reflects your personal style...).
                I was surprised at how surprised they seemed to be about this...

                1. re: freia

                  it seems that I was the only person stuffing my face... in my defense let me say that it was the first thing I had to eat all day, and it was getting late.

              2. Why oh why did they have to hire someone to 'do' Padma? That soft somewhat snarky "I'm sorry............". At least the 'Padma-like' judge doesn't dress like a 'pole dancer' on her day off.

                1. Interesting. I found a site where I could watch it (I hope I didn't get any bugs put onto my HD, though!) - on putlocker.com .

                  I thought there was a definite focus on the food, although the cooking itself was understandably given short shrift since there are 16 contestants - but the discussion and "look" at every plate that was presented was nice. What I found a little offputting was how snarky and sarcastic all the judges were and the extent they were putting down the lesser dishes. Were they all like this in Season 1?

                  I don't know the reputations of any of the cheftestants.
                  Some random comments based on what I see on the episode (editing...):
                  • I guess Curtis Luk seems destined to be the butt of sniggers to come (The "Behind...Behind" Guy?), but his duck dish looked fine and apparently tasted very good;
                  • William Thompson seemed like he was trying hard to puff his self-sense up (what's with the attempts at making his special table for the QF, the conspicuous toque-wearing, and the 5-minute spiel [so we understand] at presentation?) His EC dish did seem like a mess but boy, did the judges rip into him. Oh well, I guess folks won't be seeing that toque again;
                  • Jonathan Korecki does give me a sense that he could show some temper and bang or fling stuff around in the future;
                  • Jimmy Stewart's "Deconstructed Tuna Casserole" and his Bread Crumb Foam - OK, it wasn't a good re-imagining of the dish and it *was* odd he chose a dish he hated to do-over - but, boy, the judges did belabor the worthlessness of that foam and made scathing remarks about it as well as the entire dish!
                  • Xavier Lacaze's dish was straightforwards, it seemed to me, and he did fine - but those ingredients would have had plenty of punch themselves, all he needed to do was execute properly. His comment about being the only French chef in Calgary in his TH - a poster here faulted him for saying that; is it conceivable that he would not know of the other French chefs in the city?

                  Oh, TC Canada, what's "Shepard's Pie" (sic) ?

                  12 Replies
                  1. re: huiray

                    Hi huiray! I've enjoyed your comments on Top Chef (US version) and I'm glad you decided to give TC Canada a chance.

                    TC Canada is definitely different from the US version. The judges' comments are a bit less insightful and much more repetitive and stilted. If you look at the thread from last season, we generally found the show a bit boring and lame compared to its American counterpart. Sometimes we couldn't even be bothered to post a comment. We certainly did not managed to sustain a thread on each episode.

                    On a positive note, we do have some great chefs here and it's a good opportunity to get to know some up and coming talent.

                    And "Shepard's Pie" is exactly the same thing here as in the UK and around the world - ground lamb with some veg, mostly likely peas, carrots and onions, with mashed potato on top.

                    1. re: chefhound

                      (I think huiray was making a funny, noting that it was spelled "shepard's pie" whereas the real spelling is shepherd's pie....sorry xoxox)

                      1. re: freia

                        Heh. Yes, I was poking at them regarding their apparent invention of a new dish named for someone by that surname. :-)

                      2. re: chefhound

                        Thanks & no problem!
                        I'll take a look at the past season's threads too.

                        1. re: huiray

                          I looked at the Season 1 threads. It looks like I wasn't mistaken about the judges being snarky and sarcastic. I read that some posters thought Shereen Arazm was being quite b*tchy; that Michael Smith (this episode's guest judge) was a jerk too in his previous appearance as a guest judge; and that Mark McEwan was "flat" and a gargoyle etc besides being harsher than Tom Colicchio.

                      3. re: huiray

                        I think it's interesting that you mentioned how snarky and sarcastic the judges were... it's the Canadian version, aren't they all supposed to be nice and how you made a "good attempt"?

                        1. re: Blueicus

                          Yes, I was wondering about that too... :::scratchinghead:::

                        2. re: huiray

                          IMO, he would have to be a hermit not to know of other French chefs in the city.

                          1. re: huiray

                            I'm just catching up on the show now. For anyone who used to go to the Chowhound dinners during the mid-2000s, is this the same Curtis that used to come out with us?

                            1. re: gnuf

                              I mean the Toronto Chowhound dinners. Actually, answering my own question, yes, I believe that was him:


                              1. re: gnuf

                                It's cool somebody remembers. Unfortunately due to the nature of my new line of work I can't usually attend these events anymore, but they were fun.

                              2. re: gnuf

                                No idea, I'm not from your area (Toronto, from your profile). Curtis/Blueicus will have to answer that.

                            2. Mark McEwan seems to have relaxed a bit and doesn't come off as so distant as last year. The Padma clone is an improvement over that blonde robot they had last year.

                              And who would have thought that Toronto Spice mix would be safe and bland?

                              "Bread foam" eh?

                              7 Replies
                              1. re: hal2010

                                Yes - I would have thought folks in Toronto can take more spice and heat than what David Chrystian thinks Torontonians can tolerate? Is he correct or in error?

                                1. re: huiray

                                  I'll ask David to send us all a bottle and we can judge for ourselves ;).

                                  1. re: Blueicus

                                    I just know that the producers were counting every glass of champagne each contestant gulped down. "See that one? He's on his fifth glass. She's not even finished one." LOL
                                    I'm guessing the producers watch everyone like a hawk trying to work out how the editing is best laid down. Am I right Blueicus?

                                    1. re: Puffin3

                                      We were pretty much enveloped in a code of silence and secrecy, but you can bet there were people carefully watching the footage.

                                      1. re: Blueicus

                                        Hi Blueicus,

                                        I know there's a lot of stuff you can't talk about but I was wondering if you could tell me where the show is filmed?

                                        The reason I ask is that they keep showing this building in all the intros that is actually the building I work in. All of last season I kept wondering if there had been quickfires going on right under my nose and i didn't even know it! I understand if you can't talk about it but if you can, I'd love to know.

                                        1. re: chefhound

                                          I'm pretty sure that's not something I'm supposed to talk about. However, I was working at George last year and when I saw that footage I was thinking the exact same thing.

                                          1. re: Blueicus

                                            I completely understand. I guess I'll be on the lookout when the next season is taping and if I discover the TC kitchen in the building, I'll jump in on a Quickfire!

                              2. Is it just me or are there more unlikeable contestants compared to Season 1? Maybe it's too early in the season or maybe it's because I don't have a Newfoundlander to root for but I only liked 3 or 4 out of the 16 so far. I'm sure some others will grow on me.

                                1. I was really surprised by how poorly most of them did. Based on the judges' comments, it looked like most of the food was bland at best, which isn't what you'd expect from such talented chefs...

                                  1. Season 1 was enough for me, thanks. Have had it with the tired contest trope for everything from food, tattoos, to handyman slapdowns with Mike Holmes. What's next? Facelifts?

                                    1 Reply
                                    1. re: Kagemusha

                                      Agreed..Junk wars, food wars, garbage wars,parking wars..who comes up with this sh@t?

                                    2. I am not 100% sure but on the US TC they show every single dish even in the first few episodes right?
                                      Why don't they do that on TC Canada? It drives me insane that they only talk about the top 3 dishes and the 3 worst. What about all the others in between? For me that destroys a challenge completely.

                                      2 Replies
                                      1. re: josey124

                                        I don't think that's what happens on TC US. There are always too many contestants early on, so they don't usually show everybody's dish. I also wish they did since I want to know what everyone made.

                                        1. re: josey124

                                          I thought TC Canada in this episode (#1) did show every dish in the EC? It was in the QF that they showed only the top and bottom dishes.