Connie DeSousa rose from relative obscurity to national attention as the only female finalist on Top Chef Canada. Connie began her culinary career after earning a Le Cordon Bleu Paris certificate in Ottawa and graduating on the Dean's List with honours from the Southern Alberta Institute of Technology Culinary program. She competed for Alberta in the 2004 World Culinary Olympics. Known for such talents a being able to take apart a pig's head in record time, Connie now spends her time operating, promoting and cooking in her restaurant along with her partner John.
Describe the feeling of making it to the Top Chef finals.
I was so excited to have been chosen to represent our restaurant CHARCUT Roast House and Calgary Alberta. Of course fear played a small role at that point in the competition but the excitement and adrenaline took care of that. I knew it was time to represent my city, restaurant and for females in our industry. I am still, to this day, very proud of my dishes that day.
Who inspired you to start cooking?
Both my parents are great cooks. I remember helping them out in the kitchen when I was growing up. But as soon as I graduated from culinary school and met John (who is now my co-chef and business partner), he become one of my mentors and greatly influenced my career.
What do you get on pizza?
Lots of meat, cheese, red sauce, and of course chilies
McDonald's, Burger King or Wendy's? And you have to pick one.
Ugh! My favorite fast food is Alley Burger.
Which person, living or dead, would you want to cook for?
I would love to cook for my Grandmother. She passed away before I ever had the chance. I use her recipes quite a lot in CHARCUT Roast House and I would love to get the chance for her to critique them.
If you came back as an animal, what would it be?
Pigs! I love how quirky they are and they are so versatile. Plus, sometimes I would love to be able to just lay around in the mud all day.
Which food personality do you hate the most? Lots of descriptives please.
Hate is such a strong word. I'm not a big fan of a couple but won't name names. I dislike big egos and cry-babies in the kitchen so suck it up buttercup.
The zombie apocalypse is upon us. What food item do you stockpile?
CHARCUT's Linguica Sausage and St. Jorge cheese. Oh, and I can’t live without lemons.
What do you eat when you are sad?
Dark chocolate...and lots of it!
Lastly, what do want people to remember about you when you are gone?
My passion for feeding people. I love to gaze out into the dining room on a busy night’s dinner service and watch the look on our guests faces enjoying each other’s company over comforting food and wine.
John Lee is founder and proprietor of Chippy's Fish & Chips Inc., as well as a food/beverage consultant, caterer, instructor at George Brown College and a freelance writer.
by Food Network Canada