1. CARL HEINRICH, Age 26 – Currently Resides: Toronto, ON (Hometown: Sooke, BC)
Hailing from the small town of Sooke, BC, Carl Heinrich is the 26-year-old executive chef at Marben restaurant in Toronto. Although young, he has been working in kitchens since he was 13 years old and is extremely driven and accomplished for his age. . Strong support from family and early mentors encouraged Carl to enter the culinary world. During his time at Stratford Chef School, Carl worked at a restaurant as a chef de partie and completed a summer stage for Daniel Boulud in New York City. After graduating, he took up an offer to return to New York and work at Daniel’s busy bistro in Midtown for nearly four years. Motivated by a desire to move back to Canada and be closer to family, Carl accepted a position at db Bistro Moderne in Vancouver where he worked alongside Top Chef Canada season one winner Dale MacKay. Carl’s stages over the years include time at Camille’s West Coast Fine Dining in Victoria, Marron Bistro in Toronto, Gramercy Tavern and Daniel in New York, Georges Blanc, La Regalade, and Le Comptoir in France and Alain Ducasse’ Le Louis XV in Monaco. Carl now lives in Toronto, a city and a culinary scene he loves, where he learned the benefits of farm-to-table and nose-to-tail cooking.
2. CURTIS LUK, Age 28 – Currently Resides: Ottawa, ON (Hometown: Markham, ON)
Curtis Luk is a ‘mad scientist’ working in the culinary scene in Ottawa. Curtis completed his Masters in Mathematics at the University of Waterloo before beginning his career as a chef six years ago. He went to university to pursue a career in the software industry, but soon discovered his future was in the culinary world. Tired of the classroom, he chose to learn the trade through hands-on experience rather than going back to school. He decided to work at Château Lake Louise, after a thorough analysis of which restaurants he thought would provide him the ideal training to be a chef. He learned about large scale cooking at the hotel, before moving on to fine dining establishments in Ottawa. Continuing on his quest for culinary knowledge, he moved to Toronto to work at George Restaurant to learn from the esteemed chef Lorenzo Loseto. He proved his skill in the year he worked at George, working his way up from apprentice to Chef de Partie. The expectation was for perfection with no room for error so he always had to be on his game.
3. DAVID CHRYSTIAN, Age 37 – Currently Resides: Toronto, ON (Hometown: Toronto, ON)
David Chrystian began working in restaurants in high school and immediately fell in love with the energy, long hours and pressure. But now the 37-year-old executive chef and co-owner of Victor restaurant at Le Germain Hotel in Toronto, David has proven himself a serious chef. However, the rise of David’s career did not come without setbacks. After attending culinary school and working at some of Toronto’s best restaurants in the 90’s, David took his first big risk by opening Patriot Restaurant and Brassiere in Toronto. He believed the restaurant was a leader in the trend of Canadian cuisine; however, it ended up closing. Despite this, David continued to succeed as an executive chef at the Crowne Plaza and Drake Hotel.
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4.ELIZABETH RIVASPLATA, Age 31 – Currently Resides: Toronto, ON (Hometown: Lima, Peru)
Elizabeth Rivasplata, the 31-year-old sous chef at the Art Gallery of Ontario, was urged to apply for Top Chef Canada by head chef Anne Yarymowich. Liz is originally from Lima, Peru where she was the country’s Tae Kwon Do champion for 12 years. Being an elite athlete helped her prepare for the tough, competitive nature of the culinary world. It was Liz’s father who encouraged her to become a chef when her long reign as Peru’s champion ended. At 17, she took his advice and went to Lima’s Le Cordon Bleu culinary school. At 20, she moved to Miami. During those early years in restaurants, Liz realized the divide between men and women in the kitchen. She understood that she had to work harder to compete in a male dominated industry. In Europe, that lesson was reinforced tenfold and it served to strengthen Liz’s resolve. After a year of living abroad, she returned to North America more determined than ever to make her mark.
5. GABRIELL CRUZ, Age 25 – Currently Resides: Dundas, ON (Hometown: Hamilton, ON)
At 25 years old, Gabriell Cruz is the sous chef at Quatrefoil restaurant in Dundas, Ontario. He fell in love with cooking when he took a grade ten baking class and saw how much his friends loved his cookies. That elective turned into a kitchen co-op the next semester and it clicked for Gabriell that he wanted to pursue a career in the culinary world. His mother is a creative type, but she wanted Gabriell to enter into a “profession” like his four brothers (his twin is an engineer). After a year in London staging at Michelin-starred restaurants, Gabriell came back to live near his hometown of Hamilton. When his chef decided to open a new little restaurant in the growing community of Dundas, Gabriell followed. No one has been more surprised by the success of Quatrefoil – arguably the region’s best restaurant – than Gabriell himself.
6. JIMMY STEWART, Age 23 – Currently Resides: Whistler, BC (Hometown: North Vancouver, BC)
Born and raised in North Vancouver, Jimmy Stewart is 23 years old and is the sous chef at the Bearfoot Bistro in Whistler, BC. Counting his mother among the great ladies in his life, he currently lives with her in the campground and RV park she manages. Jimmy completed a basic culinary degree in Vancouver at the age of 18. With a strong worth ethic, Jimmy pushed his way into some of the city’s best restaurants to eventually find a spot at Lumiere and meet his biggest culinary influence, Dale MacKay, winner of Top Chef Canada season one. Jimmy spent a year in Gordon Ramsay’s MAZE and the Ledbury in London, England and then a year in Toronto at Colborne Lane and Origin. Eventually making his way back out west to work at DB Bistro, Jimmy reunited with Dale MacKay again for a short stint. With strong beliefs in foraging and a love for Canadian products and ingredients, he is driven by modern Canadian cuisine.
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7. JOEL AUBIE, Age 27 – Currently Resides: Tofino, BC (Hometown: Bathurst, NB)
Joel Aubie is an avid surfer who is truly passionate about cooking (he even has an herb tattoo on his arm that represents the flavours he puts into his risotto). Currently, he’s the head chef at Shelter Restaurant in Tofino, BC, but is originally from Bathurst, NB. Joel began to cook at a small French restaurant during high school. When the time came for Joel to decide on a career path, his dad offered to pay for either one year of university or culinary school. Joel chose culinary school without hesitation. After graduation, he made his way across Canada, working at restaurants in Halifax, Montreal, Ottawa, and on the Niagara peninsula. Upon arriving in Tofino, he discovered his love for surfing while working at the Wickaninnish Inn.
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8.JONATHAN KORECKI, Age 27 – Currently Resides: Ottawa, ON (Hometown: Caledon, ON)
Mr. Personality, Jonathan Korecki was always the guy working the BBQ in high school. Feeling that he was born to cook but worried that it wasn’t a good career, he then went to university. Three weeks was all it took to confirm his instincts. He dropped out, enrolled in Le Cordon Bleu Ottawa and never looked back. Eventually, Jonathan left Ottawa for the larger market of Toronto. After personally dropping off 40 resumes, he landed a position at Susur describing it as both the most trying experience and most important experience of his life. Now back in Ottawa as the chef of Sidedoor Contemporary Kitchen and Bar, Jonathan says the intensity he felt at Susur is back. He describes himself as ruling with an iron fist and a velvet curtain., When his long day of cooking is over, Jonathan, who is married to a neuroscientist, escapes to his basement silk-screening business – ‘mise en gear,’ which creates one-of-a-kind chef bandanas.
9. KUNAL GHOSE, Age 39 – Currently Resides: Victoria, BC (Hometown: Victoria, BC)
Kunal Ghose is the 39-year-old chef and co-creator of Redfish Bluefish, a gourmet fish shack housed in a 20 x 10 foot shipping container on a pier in Victoria, BC that serves only local, 100% sustainable seafood. Growing up with a Bengali father and Scottish/Greek/Chilean mother, Kunal always associated food with adventure. Starting in the business at 13, he spent more than a decade in the Vancouver restaurant scene before landing at Go Fish, a seafood shack near Granville Island where he invented the “tacone,” a Japanese hand roll and Mexican taco hybrid. In 2007 with a business partner on board, Kunal decided to open street food hot spot Redfish Bluefish. Having applied for Top Chef Canada season one, Kunal is back and ready to compete.
10. RYAN GALLAGHER, Age 33 – Currently Resides: Toronto, ON (Hometown: Toronto, ON)
Thirty-three-year old Ryan Gallagher did not always know that he wanted to be a chef. He became a licensed insurance broker right out of university but after two years, Ryan was bored and looking for more. His favourite hobby of cooking for his roommates soon took a more serious turn and Ryan changed his life and attended George Brown’s chef training program. After working at the Toronto Four Seasons hotel for chefs like Lynn Crawford (Pitchin’ In), Alex Chen, and Jonathon Gushue, Ryan moved on and up to numerous jobs at other hotels and restaurants. One highlight, along the way, was being able to cook at the prestigious James Beard House in New York City. Now married with a child on the way, Ryan is the sous chef at Toronto favourite, Ruby Watchco. He recently quit his position as the private chef for the Thompson family to get back into the kitchen with mentor Lynn Crawford.
11. SARAH TSAI, Age 30 – Toronto, ON (Originally Taipei, Taiwan)
Sarah Tsai came to Canada alone from Taiwan when she was 15 years old to study. The first years in Toronto were hard as she faced extreme language and cultural barriers, but with an adventurous spirit and a great sense of humour, she thrived. Sarah’s mother later joined her in Toronto and urged her to become a teacher. Sarah completed a Bachelor’s degree in linguistics, but years of front-of-house restaurant experience and a passion for food had Sarah heading to the kitchen. Since then, Sarah has held junior roles in some of Toronto’s best establishments including The Spoke Club, Zucca Italian Restaurant and currently Toronto Lawns Tennis Club. She acknowledges that sometimes it’s hard for her to get recognition because of her small stature, but she can be demanding when needed. Now 30 years old, Sarah has lived half of her life in Toronto and considers herself Canadian. In the future, she would like to open up a shop with a unique concept – charcuterie and desserts.
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12. SERGIO MATTOSCIO, Age 30 – Currently Resides: Montreal, QC (Hometown: Montreal, QC)
Sergio Mattoscio is the chef and owner of Macaroni Bar in Montreal. Though he was born in Canada, his first language is Italian and he represents his culture proudly. His earliest memories of food involve large gatherings led by his mother who died of cancer when Sergio was 17. Having worked in kitchens for years, Sergio was eventually pushed by his much older sister to attend culinary school where he graduated at the top of his class. Even then, he found himself to be more passionate than the other students. Sergio has continued to stage in various cities while operating the very successful Macaroni Bar to feed his passion for various styles of cooking. Last year he cooked five courses for Scott Conant and was offered the position of executive chef at Scarpetta in Toronto. He turned down the job to stay close to his new family, but is now ready for the next challenge.
13. TREVOR BIRD, Age 28 – Currently Resides: Vancouver, BC (Hometown: Montreal, QC)
Trevor Bird is 28 years old and currently runs his own catering business titled, Trevor Bird Cooking. He is also in the process of opening his own restaurant. Prior to this, he was the chef de partie at the Shangri-La hotel in Vancouver and he also worked as a chef at Truffert and as a sous chef at Restaurant Garcon, both in Montreal, where he is originally from. Trevor has a degree in culinary management from Algonquin College in Ottawa. A restless spirit, Trevor has spent equal parts of his career on the east and west coasts of Canada. His constant searching even led to a stint in Peru to cook for an NGO.
14. TRISTA SHEEN, Age 29 – Currently Resides: Toronto, ON (Hometown: Toronto, ON)
Toronto-native Trista Sheen is the 29-year-old sous chef turned head chef at Crush Wine Bar in Toronto. Though she wanted to be a vet, she could not afford university and decided to follow in her baker father’s footsteps. While still in high school, Trista worked with Ned Bell at the Crowne Plaza hotel. She still remembers the night she stayed for an extra six hours just to help guest chef Michael Stadtlander de-head prawns. Trista met her husband, Chef Nick Liu, while she was an apprentice at Scaramouche in 2002. It was Trista’s most important experience, teaching her the purpose of control and regimentation. Trista says she can be assertive in the kitchen if she needs to be. But while she takes her career seriously, she subscribes to Marco Pierre White’s philosophy that “at the end of the day, it’s only food.”
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15. WILLIAM THOMPSON, Age 30 – Currently Resides: Caledonia, ON (Hometown: Caledonia, ON)
With a trademark tall hat and neckerchief, William Thompson is a 30-year-old chef who follows old-school ways. William grew up with an older brother who was born severely disabled and, as such, has required constant care. For William, his brother has been an inspiration. Discovering his love of cooking, William studied at Niagara Culinary Institute and has been in the industry for eight years. He wanted to apply to Top Chef Canada for its inaugural season, but the timing was not right due to a family illness. Now, William wants to show all the people in his life why he has made so many sacrifices for his career. Most recently, William worked as executive sous chef at St. Anne’s Spa in Grafton, Ontario.
16. XAVIER LACAZE, Age 30 – Calgary, AB (Originally Auch, France)
Born and raised in the Gascony region of France, Xavier Lacaze was practically raised on duck, foie gras and truffles. At 15 years old, Xavier decided he could not face being in a classroom for another eight years and quit junior high school. He traded the classroom for a kitchen, enrolling in a culinary apprenticeship where he learned the basics and fell in love with food. Xavier describes his most significant experience as his time at the restaurant Le Puits St. Jacques with Chef Bernard Bach. His resume reads like a travelogue of seasonal stints in glorious holiday locations like St. Barths, Bermuda, LA and Brighton, England. When he met his Calgarian wife, it was travel game over. Following Xavier’s heart, the couple made Alberta their home. With a two-year-old and another child on the way, Xavier is currently the executive chef at Muse Restaurant and Lounge.
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Top Chef Canada season 2 premieres March 12 at 10pm ET/PT!