You may know Food Network Canada personality Noah Cappe from Carnival Eats or The Bachelor Canada franchise, but I first knew him from one of my first-year theatre classes in Toronto once upon a time. While promoting his latest hosting gig, Wall of Chefs, I had a chance to catch up with him to get an inside look at the new competition series and find out how he became a popular voice on 21the Canadian food scene. We also chatted about his favourite food trends, the gourmet ingredients he could do without, and the celebrity chef he’d love to take on a carnival food adventure.
While many hosts also happen to be chefs or restaurateurs, it was Cappe’s passion for food and not a lengthy culinary resume that brought him into the food world.
“I grew up in a big family, and food was always a big part of my life. We always ate together, eight kids plus my parents, so everything was always plentiful. When I got the audition for Carnival Eats, they were looking for somebody who had a passion for food… [but] we weren’t in Michelin restaurants. There wasn’t a need at the time to be able to break it down. So it was a nice entryway into the network. I’m a firm believer that energy is contagious and that people respond to genuine, real moments, and that’s what I do.”
“Wall of Chefs has been such a beautiful fit [in that sense]. I feel like I’m a conduit between home cooks and the celebrity chef world.” The home cooks on Wall of Chefs are faced with three challenges, starting with the Crowd-Pleaser. Although Cappe stands by his crowd-pleasing dish, he doesn’t think he’d make it past the first round.
“My go-to [dish] is unfortunately not elevated enough to get me through to the next round, which is a shame. I make a toasted English muffin with peanut butter better than anybody else. It sounds silly but I have a little trick with a double toasting process. Would I still make it just to say, ‘Listen, you need to experience this and I’m willing to take the loss for the greater good?’ Yes!”
What’s in Mark McEwan’s Fridge? Probably not the leftovers, peanut butter and edamame you’d find in Noah Cappe’s
The second round in Wall of Chefs has the home cooks creating a dish using three staple ingredients found in one of the celebrity chefs’ fridges. In case you’re curious about what three items would be in Cappe’s fridge, he was happy to divulge.
“One of them is leftovers, either from a food delivery service or from dinner out. When you host a show where you’re working with over 30 of the country’s biggest and brightest culinary names, you start dining out way more. I don’t keep peanut butter in the fridge, but I would put it in for this challenge because it’s such a big part of my diet. And then edamame. That’s the beautiful part, taking the combination of three elements that you would never really think of, besides the fact that you get a glimpse into the home fridge of a celebrity chef.”
Not all foods are created equal, and not all are loved by everyone. In one episode, the chefs on “The Wall” get into a debate about sundried tomatoes, and Cappe wasn’t scared to share which side he falls on.
“I don’t think there’s an argument. Sundried tomatoes are just bad, and half the people out there haven’t realized it yet.” He added, “And oysters. There’s a reason why people bake cheese on top of them and dump hot sauce on them because we’ve gotta hide this experience with strong, bold flavors. The first time I had ever eaten them was for the Great Canadian Cookbook. They aired the segment because my reactions were so weird. Oysters are the fancy food that I could live without.”
On the flip side, there’s one food trend that he believes has staying power.
“I’m not ready for the Brussels sprout train to stop. We made them taste delicious, let’s just eat them forever now. We’ve sent someone to the moon, invented the Internet, and made Brussels sprouts delicious. We’ve done the impossible.”
Outside of Food Network Canada, Cappe is known as the host of The Bachelor Canada and The Bachelorette Canada but says the Wall of Chefs are harder to wrangle than love-hungry men and women.
“It’s like being a college professor in a room of brilliant minds, and you’re trying constantly reel them in. They are so excited to be there. The format, the energy, the space creates such a buzz. It’s not very often that these chefs get to be in a room together, let alone 12 of them who are bringing such unique, diverse and different backgrounds. Whether it’s Chef Suzanne Barr and that Jamaican angle, or Chef Meeru Dhalwala and her traditional Indian flavors, when you get these people who are the pinnacle of entire genres of foods in one space together, they’re going to talk a lot.”
There’s one type of food where Cappe is considered an expert: the
wild world of midway fare that he’s sampled on Carnival Eats. And there’s one particular Wall chef that he’d like to introduce to that world.
“Chef Susur Lee made a comment in an episode that he’s never had mac and cheese. I would love to take him out to the fairgrounds and give him a hot, fresh order of deep-fried mac and cheese balls with a little honey and Sriracha drizzle. He’d be a fun personality to take out into the world of carnival food because it is the polar opposite of his style, ingredients, and flavours. I’m trying to picture him eating a bacon-wrapped, deep-fried hamburger dipped in jam.”
Cappe is equally passionate about basketball as he is about food, and has some ideas on creating the ultimate Raptors fan dish.
— Noah Cappe (@noahcappe) June 14, 2019
“You have to play into the stadium food angle, like pizza slices, hot dogs, and peanuts. Let’s do a peanut encrusted, bacon-wrapped hot dog dressed like a pizza slice. Hit it with a little tomato sauce and maybe some pepperoni. Then we’re going to brush the inside of that hot dog bun with garlic butter. And we’re going to call it the Sir Dunk-A-Lot Dog.”
By the end of our chat, one thing was evident: Cappe’s genuine enthusiasm for his latest project.
“I’m so excited for everybody to see [Wall of Chefs]. I’m a viewer of Food Network Canada as much as — if not more than — I am a personality on the network. And this is a show that I know I would watch. There’s really nothing like it, but at the same time, it feels like it’s the best parts of all the shows that you know.”