Emma Chopped Canada

How Chopped Canada Champions Spent Their Winnings

We’ve had a talented batch of Canadian chefs competing on this season of Chopped Canada. From executive chefs on the west coast to sous chefs out east, all 76 competitors brought their A-game to the kitchen.

We couldn’t be prouder of the talent in our country, so we caught up with four notable winners to see what’s been cooking for them since they were on the show — and how they’ve spent their winnings.

You may recall Emma Beqaj in the episode “Sauce on the Side,” where she impressed the judges with her scrumptious Rotisserie Chicken Waffles with Chermoula Maple Syrup, and her mouthwatering Ground Cherry Crumble with Coffee Bean Caramel.

Winning has its perks and Emma can thank her family for that.

“The day [I auditioned] my brother and sister were there to give me the biggest pep talk, which I think helped me secure a spot,” she says.

As chef and owner of Emma’s Eatery Catering, the Chopped Canada champion used her $10,000 prize to secure her own commercial kitchen. “I was very happy to put the money towards exactly what I told the judges it would be for.”

Josh Karbelnik had a heartwarming reason for auditioning and ultimately winning in the episode “Cooking With Courage.”

“My mom needed a wheelchair ramp and I thought if I go on this show and win, I would buy it for her. She encouraged me to sign up because she watches the show and believes in me,” he says.

The 26-year-old chef de partie at Truffles Fine Foods in New Westminster, B.C. brought a well-honed fine dining background to the competition, delivering a creative menu that impressed judges Anne Yarymowich, Antonio Park and Lynn Crawford.

Since winning, Josh was able to help his mother and is currently living in Toronto, Ont. where he is planning his wedding in the new year.

Pam Fanjoy, the winner of the episode “Shell Shocked,” initially planned to spend her prize money on a trip to Thailand, but, as she explains, her business took priority.

“I took the money and put it towards a new restaurant,” she says, adding the $10,000 helped with a down payment on a new location for The Friendly Chef Adventures in Erin, Ont.

“We’re going from a little, tiny 14-seat cafe inside a boutique to a 40-seat restaurant with a full-service store attached to it. We open May 29th!”

Once her episode aired, Pam says her restaurant has never been busier. “We have a lot more customers coming in for lunch and understanding we also have a retail store. Prior to the show, a lot of people didn’t know the caliber of our food.  We’ve really become a destination restaurant as tourists come in on the weekends specifically to come here and eat.”

Sebastien Laframboise first appeared in the second season’s episode “In a Pig’s Ear” and got chopped for second-guessing a temperature setting. Fortunately for him, he returned to the kitchen for the ultimate vindication in “Redemption: Road to Victory,” where, alas, he cooked his way to $10,000.  With the money, the executive chef at Auberge La Goéliche in Québec City went on a well-deserved vacation.

“I went to Finland with one of my chefs. I really like Nordic cuisine. In Québec, we have exactly the same weather and products but they use it differently. It was interesting to see what they do over on their continent,” he says. “I had fun. That’s the main thing.”

Catch the season finale of Chopped Canada Saturday, May 14th at 9 E/P.

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