Top Chef is probably my favourite TV show right now. I was ecstatic when I heard that there would be a Canadian version. So, this brings me to my little surprise for you. I recently had the chance to pose a few questions to the host and permanent judges of Top Chef Canada. These are their exact words as was sent to me via e-mail; I haven’t edited their responses at all.
First up for your reading pleasure is the show’s host, Thea Andrews. You might recognize her from various television shows and channels.
1. You’re known across Canada for your work on ESPN and on Entertainment Tonight, but not so much for food. So far, the hosts of the U.S. Top Chef shows have had partial or significant food experience. What experience do you have with cooking and food?
Food is a big part of my life – I consider myself a good home chef and I love taking cooking courses. I’ve always been an avid foodie and fantasized about being in the restaurant business – my grandfather owned a restaurant and my dad grew up working in it, so maybe it’s in my blood a little. I just became a part owner of a wonderful new restaurant in New York called Millesime. It’s a spectacular space in the historic Carlton Hotel – a beautiful backdrop for the wonderful work of our 2-star Michelin chef Laurent Manrique. So far, we’ve gotten rave reviews across the board from all the New York papers and magazines, so even though I’m not involved in the day to day running of the restaurant, I feel my dream of being in the biz is being fulfilled!
2. Some people think all hosts do is stand in front of the camera and talk. What would surprise people to learn about the work that you did as the host for a show like this?
Nope, that’s pretty much it. We stand in front of the camera and talk. And in the case of this show, we eat. We eat a LOT.
3. What are your plans for the future? Do you think you will do any other food-related work?
In my business it’s hard to say exactly what the future holds, but I would love to do more seasons of Top Chef Canada if it happens. It was definitely one of the best shows I’ve ever worked on. Right now I’m hosting a new music competition show from the executive producer of American Idol, Nigel Lythgoe – I just love having the opportunity to try new things and work in new genres.
4. If you could give one piece of advice to someone who wanted to become a Top Chef Canada competitor, what would it be?
Well first of all, you have to do an audition tape that shows us your personality, and you need to stand out among hundreds and hundreds of hopefuls, so get creative. Be open and revealing. We want to get to know you. And if you do win a spot on the show, come prepared. The fact is, this show has been on the air in the States for many seasons, so if you’re a regular viewer you should come in with an understanding of the scope of the things you might be asked to do. But even if you’ve never seen it, you should still have a lot of ideas and party tricks ready in your back pocket – brush up on your blow-’em-away favorites! Know your strengths and weaknesses. There’s no way to anticipate exactly what the challenges will be, but you can still come with lots of ideas for dishes you know are proven winners, and hopefully you can adapt them to the challenges as required. And for pete’s sake….come ready to make DESSERT people! A lot of the chefs seem to avoid it like the plague, but at some point you may draw that dessert straw, so have some great ones up your sleeve! A great dessert may save your tush in this competition :).
More interviews will be posted all this week! You can read all the other interviews by using this Top Chef Canada list.
Top Chef Canada premieres on Food Network Canada, on Monday, April 11, 2011.