Introducing Top Chef Canada Competitor Francois Gagnon

As you know with Top Chef Canada 
premiering Monday, April 11th 9pmET/10pmPT, we’ve decided get to
know the 16 TCC competitors a little better.

Yesterday we met
Patrick Wiese
who has cooked for Oprah Winfrey! (LOVE Oprah).
Today we’re going to meet our final competitor. Last but not least,
please welcome Francois Gagnon to the spotlight. This Quebec native
has cooked with some of best chefs in Canada and in France.

Be sure to head on over to the TCC site where you can read
Francois’s full bio
and
watch his audition tape
.

(Also just a reminder I’m simply featuring the competitors in
the order they returned my email — in case you were reading into
the order in any way — DON’T!)

*************************
FNC: What’s your favourite dish?
Francois Gagnon: It depends on my mood.

FNC: Fave kitchen utensil/gadget?
FG: Pressure cooker

FNC: Fave ingredient?
FG: Seafood

FNC: What would we typically find in your fridge?
FG: Arugula, parsley, basil, Parmesan — that way I can whip
up a past on the fly.

FNC: Where does your love of cooking come from?
FG: I learned to put the passion into my work when I was in South
of France for two years. Working with the herb guys, the fish
guys… it was amazing.

FNC: Your guilty food pleasure?
FG: Poutine

FNC: Food aversions? Dislikes?
FG: White peppercorns

FNC: Have you been recognized?
FG: Not yet.

FNC: Fave cookbook authors? 
FG: Thomas Keller, Alaine Ducasse

FNC: Complete this sentence: People would be surprised to find
out that… 
FG: I cut my own hair.

Be sure to check out our Top Chef Canada  site and
don’t forget to watch In the Hot Seat with Head Judge Mark
McEwan
  — a super cute/fun video if I do say so
myself.

Related:

Introducing Top Chef Canada Competitor Patrick Wiese

As you know with Top Chef Canada 
premiering Monday, April 11th 9pmET/10pmPT, we’ve decided get to
know the 16 TCC competitors a little better.

Yesterday we met
Dale MacKay
, who was hand-picked by Gordon Ramsay to work at
his restaurant Claridge’s in London.

Today it’s Patrick Wiese’s turn in the spotlight. This Chicago
native, who now calls Toronto home, has cooked for, among others,
Oprah Winfrey! Be sure to head on over to the TCC site where you can read
Patrick’s full bio
and
watch his audition tape
.

(Also just a reminder I’m simply featuring the competitors in
the order they returned my email — in case you were reading into
the order in any way — DON’T!)

*************************

FNC: Fave kitchen utensil/gadget?
Patrick Wiese: My favourite kitchen utensil or gadget is my
brule torch ’cause I can use it to glaze fish and fowl and crisp up
salmon skin in a pinch..:)

FNC: Fave ingredient?
PW: Because I’m now a Canerican(half American and half
Canadian),  I love the versatility of maple syrup. Canada has
the best assortment and some organic brands that I’ve used.

FNC: What would we typically find in your fridge?
PW: I always have Explorateur cheese (a triple cream cheese),
smoked oysters and really good flat bread, peanut butter, grape
jelly and homemade fresh gravlax.

FNC: Where does your love of cooking come from?
PW: From my father and mother. They have inspired me more than they
will know. Their quirky style of cooking, love of gardening and
canning taught me a lot about how to have fun with food and how to
be self sufficent if needed. I have a garden on my balcony every
year.

FNC: Your guilty food pleasure?
PW: I have a few — fish and chips with crispy frites, Mr.
Smoky’s poutine with lots of gravy, and when I really want to be
bad — a big burger with bacon, avocado and aged cheddar
cheese.

FNC: Food aversions? Dislikes?
PW: I haven’t found one yet. I was in Mexico City with Chef Lynn
Crawford doing a show and we had fried ant eggs, meal worms and
baby crawfish. I thought I might not like them but after a deep
breath,a shot of tequila and a beer, they tasted really
good!!

FNC: Have you been recognized?
PW: I have been recognized on the street, at the gym and in my own
building now. I’m always amazed at how people just smile when they
know you have been a part of something so special like Top Chef
Canada!!

FNC: Fave cookbook authors? 
PW: Julia Child, Thomas Keller, Art Smith, Gordon Ramsay, Grant
Achatz and Charlie Trotter

FNC: Complete this sentence: People would be surprised to find out
that… 
PW: I know how to break dance and I love really bad cult
horror movies.

Be sure to check out our Top Chef Canada  site and
don’t forget to watch In the Hot Seat with Head Judge Mark
McEwan
  — a super cute/fun video if I do say so
myself.

Related:

Introducing Top Chef Canada Competitor Dale MacKay

As you know with Top Chef Canada 
premiering Monday, April 11th 9pmET/10pmPT, we’ve decided get to
know the 16 TCC competitors a little better.

Yesterday we met
Dustin Gallagher
, Executive Chef at
Grace restaurant
in Toronto (one of my standbys for good
eats).

Today say big hello to Dale MacKay, who is the youngest of 160
Grand Chefs on five continents to have earned the coveted Grand
Chef Relais & Chateaux status! Not to mention that he was
hand-picked by Gordon Ramsay to work at his restaurant Claridge’s
in London. 

Be sure to head on over to the TCC site where you can read
Dale’s full bio
and
watch his audition tape

Come back tomorrow to meet another one of our accomplished
competitors.
(Also just a reminder I’m simply featuring the competitors in
the order they returned my email — in case you were reading into
the order in any way — DON’T!)

*************************
Food Network Canada: Your favourite dish?
Dale MacKay: BBQ pork or beef ribs

FNC: Fave kitchen utensil/gadget?
DM: My dish washer, he’s a machine…he’s known as “Dragon
Ball”

FNC: Fave ingredients?
DM: Team work and deduction

FNC: What would we typically find in your fridge?
DM: My fridge at home…. milk, ice tea, juice boxes and fruit
for my son’s lunch.

FNC: Where does your love of cooking come from?
DM:I just love everything about cooking and the restaurant
business, There is so much structure and so much freedom all at the
same time!

FNC: Your guilty food pleasure?
DM: McDonald’s and root beer floats

FNC: Food aversions? Dislikes
DM: Overly rich food, hot sauce and when people put fish in pasta
dishes.

FNC: Have you been recognized?
DM: LOL… no.

FNC: Fave cookbook authors? 
DM: I don’t really read cook books so I would say Daniel
Boulud
.

FNC: Complete this sentence: People would be surprised to find out
that… 
DM: I dropped out of high school at 15 years old and I never
went to culinary school.

Be sure to check out our Top Chef Canada  site and
don’t forget to watch In the Hot Seat with Head Judge Mark
McEwan
  — a super cute/fun video if I do say so
myself.

Related:

Eat St: How Schnitzel and Things Is Doing Now

On Eat St.’s premier episode,
we featured a cart called Schnitzel and Things.
Oleg and Gene Voss have been working hard since filming last
summer! The Schnitz Bros were nominated for the main category in New
York’s Vendy Awards
, placing among the top 5!

To put things into perspective, The Vendy Awards are
practically the Ms. Universe of food truck award ceremonies. While
they used to be a New York exclusive event, they’ve now branched
out to L.A. and Philadelphia. It’s a big deal!



Aside from rave reviews and throngs of adoring fans, Schnitzel and
Things have just recently opened a bricks-and-mortar
restaurant!

Located on 3rd Ave, between 45th and 46th in Manhattan,
the Schnitzteraunt features a larger menu, a full seating area and
free delivery on orders over $15! The doors opened on March 22nd
and their grand opening party is April 12th, but unfortunately,
tickets are sold out.

And what do the critics think? Here’s what Midtown
Lunch had to say:

?Ah, Schnitz! Fried thin goodness. If you’ve had
schnitzel from the truck, you know exactly what to expect. A good
number of my co-workers did make their way over, many of whom had
never visited the truck. Almost all liked it, with the one
complaint being that it’s a tad on the salty side. (No complaints
here though.)

Have you basked in the glory that is New York style
schnitzel? Let us know what you thought in the comments
below!

Related:

Introducing Top Chef Canada Competitor Dustin Gallagher

As you know with Top Chef Canada 
premiering Monday, April 11th 9pmET/10pmPT, we’ve decided get to
know the 16 TCC competitors a little better.

Yesterday we met
Rob Rossi
, Executive Chef for Mercatto in Toronto. Today say a
big hello to Dustin Gallagher who started working in professional
kitchens from the age of 13! He’s the Executive Chef at
Grace restaurant
in Toronto (one of my standbys for good eats)
and a very nice guy.  Be sure to head on over to the TCC site where you can read
Dustin’s full bio
and
watch his audition tape
.

Come back tomorrow to meet another one of our accomplished
competitors.
(Also just a reminder I’m simply featuring the competitors in
the order they returned my email — in case you were reading into
the order in any way — DON’T!)

*************************
Food Network Canada: Your favourite dish?
Dustin Gallagher:
I don’t really have a favourite
dish.  It all depends on my mood and what season it is.

FNC: Fave kitchen utensil/gadget?
DG: My favourite tools in the kitchen are probably my vita mix
blender and pasta machine

FNC: Fave ingredients?
DG: Salt and pepper

FNC: What would we typically find in your fridge?
DG: My fridge at home only consists of hot sauces, eggs, and
more condiments maybe some cheese.

FNC: Where does your love of cooking come from?
DG: My love for cooking comes from my love for eating.

FNC: Your guilty food pleasure?
DG: My guilty food pleasure is Handi-Snacks (the really bad
cheese and crackers)

FNC: Food aversions? Dislikes
DG: My only food aversions are people with food aversions

FNC: Have you been recognized?
DG: Here and there in my ‘hood.

FNC: Fave cookbook authors? 
DG:
Thomas Keller
,
Stephane Reynaud
, Fergus
Henderson


FNC: Complete this sentence: People would be surprised to find out
that… 
DG: I wake up in the middle of the night and sleep-eat (sit
in front of my fridge half asleep and eat random food!).

Be sure to check out our Top Chef Canada  site and
don’t forget to watch In the Hot Seat with Head Judge Mark
McEwan
  — a super cute/fun video if I do say so
myself.

Related:

Introducing Top Chef Canada Competitor Rob Rossi

As you know with Top Chef Canada 
premiering Monday, April 11th 9pmET/10pmPT, we’ve decided get to
know the 16 TCC competitors a little better.

Monday we met
Jamie Hertz
, chef/owner of Fusion Bistro in B.C.

Today say a big hello to
Rob Rossi
,  Executive Chef for the Mercatto group of restaurants in
Toronto, who always knew he’d be a chef! Be sure to head on over to
the TCC site where you can read Rob’s full bio
and watch
his audition tape
.

Come back tomorrow to meet another one of our accomplished
competitors.
(Also just a reminder I’m simply featuring the competitors in
the order they returned my email — in case you were reading into
the order in any way — DON’T!)

*************************
Food Network Canada: Your favourite dish?
Rob Rossi: I would have to say my electric pressure cooker. I
like having the ability to braise in a hurry without compromising
the quality of the food.

FNC: Fave kitchen utensil/gadget?
RR: I always have a few jars of sourdough starter bubbling
away in the corner of my fridge as well as a jar of hot peppers and
of course mayonnaise!

FNC: Fave ingredient?
RR: My favourite ingredient would have to be pork. So much
can be done with a pig and so many techniques can be used. It’s
hard to get bored with pork!

FNC: Where does your love of cooking come from?
RR: My love of cooking is definitely connected to my love of the
land. I feel very connected to the outdoors and to our country. I
used to spend the summers at my grandmother’s picking wild
raspberries and apples from the farm. It was an amazing
experience.

FNC: Your guilty food pleasure?
RR: Marshmallow fluff! Scary stuff… but tasty!

FNC: Food aversions? Dislikes
RR:  I will not eat anything endangered or majestic!

FNC: Have you been recognized?
RR: If I have than I would be the last to know!

FNC: Fave cookbook authors? 
RR:
Stephane Reynaud
and Andrew
Carmellini
because they both write how they speak and it sounds
honest and real.

FNC: Complete this sentence: People would be surprised to find out
that… 
RR: I love fly-fishing and tying flies!

Be sure to check out our Top Chef Canada  site and
don’t forget to watch In the Hot Seat with Head Judge Mark
McEwan
  — a super cute/fun video if I do say so
myself.

Related:

Introducing Top Chef Canada Competitor Jamie Hertz

As you know with Top Chef Canada 
premiering Monday, April 11th 9pmET/10pmPT, we’ve decided get to
know the 16 TCC competitors a little better.

Yesterday we met
Derek Bocking
who traded his hockey skates for chef’s
knives.

Today we’re going to meet Jamie Hertz, chef and owner of Fusion
Bistro in Nelson, B.C., a restaurant that’s been around for 6
years.  Be sure to head on over to the TCC site where you can read
Jamie’s full bio
and watch
his audition tape
.

Come back tomorrow to meet another one of our accomplished
competitors.
(Also just a reminder I’m simply featuring the competitors in
the order they returned my email — in case you were reading into
the order in any way — DON’T!)

*************************
Food Network Canada: Your favourite dish?
Jamie Hertz: It depends on my mood which is why I became a
chef.  I didn’t want to depend on someone else to satisfy my
food cravings. But it would be back to the basics with a roasted
chicken, mashed potatoes, butter lettuce salad, rapini or
brocolini, roasted leeks and purple top turnips… oh and don’t
forget the sauce made from pan drippings.

FNC: Fave kitchen utensil/gadget?
JH: This is a tough one to answer because I can’t think of
anything for that I use for certain.  However I do feel naked
when I don’t have a pair of tongs, a dry towel, and a tasting
spoon.  At home I find myself using my dehydrator and my
Kitchen Aid mixer the most.  I love to dry as much fruit and
veg as I can during the late summer and fall harvest so Mr.
Dehydrator is a close friend of mine.  I find myself using my
Kitchen Aid mixer to make fresh pasta at least 2 times a week and
for making sausages in the fall.

FNC: Where does your love of cooking come from?
JH: Ever since I was very young, food was instrumental at all my
favourite times of the year.  When I was a child I thought it
was about the presents but as I got older I started to realize that
it wasn’t the gifts that made me happy, it was the food.

FNC: Your guilty food pleasure?
JH:  Without a doubt I have a big soft spot for really
good gelato and chocolate covered almonds.  I can never say no
to either of them and have been caught eating them in the middle of
the night and for breakfast.  I also like a grilled kielbasa
sandwich on caraway rye with a really good Dijon mustard and kosher
dill pickles.

FNC: Food aversions? Dislikes

JH: I could go on but I am in Mexico right now and bought this lime
beer and I would have to say I could go the rest of my life with
out having it ever again.  I don’t like Fresca very much and
it reminds me of a bad version of it.  Also, I’ve never been a
big fan of tripe.  It has a texture that makes me want to
throw up just looking at it.

FNC: Have you been recognized?
JH: Well I have owned Fusion for 6 years and over that period I
have surprised and touched many locals and travelers.  So in
that aspect I believe so.

FNC: Fave cookbook authors? 
JH: Well like most chefs I found a connection with
Anthony Bourdain
. Kitchen Confidential, and Medium
Raw
are two books that I could relate to.  As for chefs
out there who are still cooking,  without a doubt
Thomas Keller
is one of my motivators. I used to watch
James Barbe
r when I was a  young boy and I would try to
replicate his dishes with his famous saying — YA USE WHATCHA YA
GOT.

FNC: Complete this sentence: People would be surprised to find out
that… 
JH: Hmmm…. I need more time for this one.

Be sure to check out our Top Chef Canada  site and
don’t forget to watch In the Hot Seat with Head Judge Mark
McEwan
  — a super cute/fun video if I do say so
myself.

Related:

Introducing Top Chef Canada Competitor Darryl Crumb

As you know with Top Chef Canada 
premiering Monday, April 11th 9pmET/10pmPT, we’ve decided get to
know the 16 TCC competitors a little better.

Yesterday we met
Connie DeSousa
, ex-ballet dancer and chef/owner of the
acclaimed Calgary restaurant, CHARCUT. 

Today we’re getting to know Darryl Crumb who traded his hockey
skates for chef’s knives. Be sure to head on over to the TCC site where you can read
Darryl’s full bio
and watch
his audition tape
.

Come back tomorrow to meet another one of our accomplished
competitors.
(Also just a reminder I’m simply featuring the competitors in
the order they returned my email — in case you were reading into
the order in any way — DON’T!)

*************************
Food Network Canada: Your favourite dish?
Darryl Crumb: Spaghetti Bolognese

FNC: Fave kitchen utensil/gadget?
DC: My hands, I like to keep it simple.

FNC: What would we find in your fridge on a typical
day? 

DC: Butter, eggs and bacon, in that order.

FNC: Fave ingredient?  
DC: Kosher salt…or butter…or cream

FNC: Where does your love of cooking come from?
DC: Living on a farm in the Prairies.

FNC: Your guilty food pleasure?
DC: Every and any kind of potato chips.  The entire
bag.

FNC: Food aversions? Dislikes
DC: Green peppers

FNC: Have you been recognized?
DC: Yes

FNC: Fave cookbook authors?  
DC:
Martin Picard
(The Wild Chef)

FNC: Complete this sentence: People would be surprised to
find out that… 
DC: I took a girls figure skating class.  I was 3, but
figure skating none-the-less.

Be sure to check out our Top Chef Canada  site and
don’t forget to watch In the Hot Seat with Head Judge Mark
McEwan
  — a super cute/fun video if I do say so myself.
(BTW I’m determined to hear Mark’s hidden talent one day).

Related:

Introducing Top Chef Canada Competitor Connie DeSousa

As you know with Top Chef Canada 
premiering Monday, April 11th 9pmET/10pmPT, we’ve decided get to
know the 16 TCC competitors a little better.

Yesterday we met 
Steve Gonzalez
who’s cooked at some of the best restaurants in
Toronto.

Today we’re getting to know Connie DeSousa. She’s the
Co-Executive Chef and Co-Owner of CHARCUT Roast House in Calgary
(I’m dying to go to this place having read the
rave reviews
!). Be sure to head on over to the TCC site where you can read
Connie’s full bio
and watch
her audition tape
.

Come back tomorrow to meet another one of our accomplished
competitors.
(Also just a reminder I’m simply featuring the competitors in
the order they returned my email — in case you were reading into
the order in any way — DON’T!)

*************************
Food Network Canada: Your favourite dish?

Connie DeSousa: I will never tire of the Rotisserie Chicken with
Duck Bacon and Arugula we create at CHARCUT. Inspired by a dish I
used to prepare at Alice Waters’ famed Chez Panisse in
Berkeley
, the dish is flavourful, healthful and timeless. Each
element is tended — and when combined — work rather beautifully
together.

FNC: Fave kitchen utensil/gadget?

CD: Like a lot of my kitchen gadgets, my favourite sounds very
boy-toy! It’s fire engine red. It’s Italian. Tiny but tough. I can
tote it with me in my suitcase – at just 10 pounds. Because I count
on my Tre
Spade sausage filler
– a loyal stand-by — for consistent
results, it tops my list.

FNC: What would we find in your fridge on a typical
day? 

CD: Most people stock the fridge with comfort food and ready
staples. Even though I am a trained chef, at home I am no
different. The ingredients you will commonly find in my fridge
remind me of childhood Sunday mornings. They give a glimpse of my
heritage. Expect: St. Jorge, a raw milk Portuguese cow’s milk
cheese; fermented Portuguese red pepper sauce which is great for
seasoning almost anything; farm eggs; and house-made
sausages.

FNC: Fave ingredient?  
CD: I love lemons and all things citrus.  Inherently
refreshing, they brighten any dish right up. Swapping heavy sauce
for a grilled lemon-half makes an effective and simple enhancement
for BBQ’d steaks on a hot summer’s day.

FNC: Where does your love of cooking come from?
CD: I attribute my heritage to the love I feel for cooking.
Canadian-born, I grew up with strong Portuguese and Irish cultural
and culinary influences from my parents and my grandparents.
Fabulous cooks. They nurtured deep, happy and important memories
making and sharing meals at home. They always invited and
encouraged me to help in the kitchen.  I will capture these
memories in a cookbook one day, dedicated to them.

FNC: Your guilty food pleasure?
CD: Poutine.  What is better than fries smothered with
cheese curds and gravy? The only dish I can think of is
Chuck Hughes’ take on poutine
. Last year, he taught me how to
make his version … with lobster.  YUM!

FNC: Food aversions? Dislikes
CD:  Being adventuresome, I try and enjoy a vast range of
foods.  I am up for everything from octopus brains
sashimi-style to Sunday night prime-rib dinner classics. However,
one peeve remains: bland, under seasoned food. Perfectly crisp
fries hot out of the fryer but without the benefit of a sprinkling
of salt are, in a word, blah. Salt, for example, evolves simple
ingredients.

FNC: Have you been recognized?
CD: So unique and out-of-the-gates successful, our Calgary
restaurant
CHARCUT Roast House
has gained a lot of attention in the news
and through social media. CHARCUT was an enRoute Magazine 2010 best
new restaurant winner. My business partner and co-chef John
Jackson
and I were named top chefs under 40 by Western
Living Magazine. Our names and faces are out there, especially
since we are fixtures on the line. So within the Calgary community,
we are somewhat recognized by people in food circles and frequent
diners. But nothing prepared me for the flurry of attention and
recognition since word of Top Chef Canada started to
circulate. Our CHARCUT guests and regulars share the excitement
about me being on Top Chef Canada, representing
Calgary.

FNC: Fave cookbook authors?  
CD: Karen Page and Andrew Dorenburg co-wrote one of my favorite
cookbooks called Culinary Artistry. This go-to book insightfully
reminds and encourages culinarians how best to pair ingredients and
flavour profiles like no other I have read. It is a gift to
chefs.

FNC: Complete this sentence: People would be surprised to
find out that… 
CD: I studied to become a ballet dancer for more than 12
years.  Cooking and dancing seem worlds apart, but my drive,
endurance and stamina in the kitchen come from dance. These
qualities contribute to my professional success. And I thank
ballet.

Be sure to check out our Top Chef Canada  site and
don’t forget to watch In the Hot Seat with Head Judge Mark
McEwan
  — a super cute/fun video if I do say so myself.
(BTW I’m determined to hear Mark’s hidden talent one day).

Related: