Food for thought with Top Chef Canada contestant Jamie Hertz

Was Jamie Hertz all that he seemed to be on Top Chef Canada? Was he unfairly portrayed? Have a look at my interview with him and judge for yourselves!

Top Chef Canada – Jamie Hertz (photo courtesy of Food Network Canada/Insight Productions)

Top Chef Canada – Jamie Hertz (photo courtesy of Food Network Canada/Insight Productions)

Why did you decide to apply to be on Top Chef Canada?

I applied for Top Chef Canada to see where I stand. To get out there seeing as being a chef out of the city is difficult.

What surprised you most about the competition?

The thing that surprised me the most was the level of stress you under go with cameras on you.

What special items did you bring from home to help you in the competition?

I had brought a bunch of Japanese ingredients from home to showcase my balance of flavors but never really got to use them.

In the elimination challenge you said you wanted to show West coast cooking. Why did you decide to do a salmon mousse as opposed to something like a cedar planked salmon?

As for the salmon. I had 80 percent smoked salmon and wanted to make the mousse just using that, but late in prep I felt that I didn’t have enough so there were some ends in the main kitchen so I chose to add some to ensure I had enough portions. Cedar plank is Milestones type food (a restaurant chain) and felt it was not good enough nor did we have cedar planks.

Why did you complain about the need to use a student sous chef? Did you have problems working with your student?

I had no problems with the work I did with the sous chef. There was a point during prep where they put my chef in a so called penalty box. I was frustrated because the rules to using the sous were not laid out. This is the only problem I had and it was nothing to do with the sous himself.

To me, it seemed like you were frustrated with the competition process. In the show and in your online exit interview, you mentioned that you were second guessing a lot of things, that contestants were placed in unrealistic situations and that there was little feedback about your food. Was this the case? What was really going on?

Well I was frustrated with the competition – with the lack of dishes we could use and not having the access to ingredients that allow me to truly show my true colors as an established chef and successful restaurateur. I also hated the fact that Mark McEwan said in the country challenge that I was in Dale’s wind following and or copying him. To me it showed he really had no idea of who I was and where I came from. I am my own chef and never followed someone to achieve my success.

If given the chance, would you compete on Top Chef Canada again?

I would compete again with a new strategy and I would feel more comfortable being in that situation. I am much much better then I did on the show and wish I had a chance to find my footing and wow the judges. The real question is would they have me back seeing as I didn’t make it further.

Any future plans that you’d like to share?

As for future plans I am going to keep fusion going and hope to have much more success. I am hungry for achieving my goals and being a well respected chef, so if anything it was a kick in the ass to push to the next level.

Other than your own establishment, name one of your favorite places to eat.

Well my fav place to eat in Vancouver is Hapa Izikaya. In the Toronto area as a child I loved Apache Burger and Montreal Deli.

Any last comments?

As frustrated as I was in the competition, the Food Network gave me a well needed second wind in my career. I was so appreciative of the opportunity to be a part of Canada’s Top Chef.

I didn’t like the character I was portrayed as. I would like to one day sit down with Mark and perhaps Shereen when cameras aren’t around to chat with them.

Thanks for everything Insight (the production company) and Food Network.

You can read past interviews by using this Top Chef Canada list.