The Café kitchen is warmed up, the knives have been sharpened, and 12 new culinary masterminds from across Canada are buttoning up their chef jackets to compete for the coveted title of Top Chef Canada. From jaw-dropping twists to tense, dramatic moments, things are about to get lit. In that spirit, join us each week as we highlight all of the very best moments from each episode, all season long.
EPISODE 1 – A new challenge is revealed
Who wasn’t shocked when Eden revealed that this year, three chefs would compete in a cook your way into the competition challenge to see which of them would become the season’s 12th and final contestant. As Benet, Alexei and Paul went head-to-head to see who the lucky winner would be, the OG 11 contestants then had to judge them.
EPISODE 1 – Takeshi gets vocal
Judging your fellow competitors is no easy task, but it was one that Takeshi almost seemed to relish. He was among the most critical of voices at that judging table, and even hinted that perhaps they didn’t want to select the best chef of the trio to join the competition because… well, more competition.
EPISODE 1 – Takeshi is eliminated
Call it karma, call it justice, or call it a bad day in the kitchen. However you see it, when the chefs were asked to cook a dish that represented where they came from, the judges were anything but impressed with Takeshi’s retro, “TV dinner” offering of Chicken Mousse-Stuffed Ballotine with Petit Pois and Fava Beans in Chicken Dashi. As a result, he became the first chef of the season to be eliminated.
EPISODE 2 – Eden greets the chefs in bed
What better way to introduce a brunch-inspired Quickfire than by greeting the chefs in bed? Eden and guest judge Suzanne Barr were decked out in their PJ-best as they tasked the contestants with whipping up—you guessed it—breakfast bites in bed. Bring on the mimosas, baby! Or, at least bring on the mimosas for Sebastien. His smoked salmon concoction, which integrated his grandma’s “fruit catsup,” won him the $5,000 challenge prize.
EPISODE 2 – Air plane food gets classy
When it comes to mile-high fare, we don’t always expect the best. But that’s because not all in-flight meals are created by Top Chef Canada contestants. Of course any contender can whip up plane food, but how many can get the essence of that dish into one single bite? That was the twisty challenge the contestants were faced with in this week’s sky-high Elimination Challenge.
EPSISODE 2 – Paul wins again
EPISODE 3 – Benet whips through the skills challenge
When you win two Elimination Challenges in a row, you’re going to be a frontrunner. So we all expected Paul to easily win the speed challenge against Benet. Of course Benet had other plans, and the Saskatoon chef easily beat Paul in all four of the skills tests. Meanwhile, poor Paul took a bit of an ego bruising.
EPISODE 3 – Restaurant Wars!
Watching the chefs concoct full menus and put their service to the test is always a highlight of this show, and this season was no exception. As Paul took the lead with his team and became a kitchen taskmaster, Benet had an opposite approach with his crew and let everyone’s ideas shine. Meanwhile, all of the chefs got to take a walk on the edge of the CN Tower in preparation for service.
EPISODE 3 – Paul finally loses
Despite Tanya setting a bad tone for her team when she lost the judges’ orders, in the end it was Paul’s team and their lackluster dishes that led to their loss. So how did Paul deal? By throwing Hayden under the bus for his thin sauce. To be fair, he did warn the young chef about his veal beforehand. In the end they were both safe though, and it was Max and his super-smoked cheese plate who was sent packing.
EPISODE 4 – Wallace almost goes up in flames
In the cheesiest Quickfire yet, the chefs were asked to prepare gourmet grilled cheese sandwiches. The catch? They also had to be stuffed with a catch… seafood, to be exact. Wallace was all in, until his particular concoction caught fire on the grill, sending his plate into charred oblivion. That opened up the door for Phil to win instead, and secure immunity in the Elimination Challenge in the process.
EPISODE 4 – Foraging with chefs
Some chefs enjoy purchasing their ingredients from a store while others—like Paul, a fourth-generation forager—enjoy selecting their ingredients from the land. So he was in his heyday collecting puffball mushrooms and other wild ingredients in this week’s forage-friendly episode.
EPISODE 4 – Marcus Samuelsson stops by
It doesn’t get much better than when a James Beard Award-winning chef like Marcus Samuelsson stops by, but that’s what the chefs got when they were asked to create a Nordic feast with ingredients like lichen and juniper. Samuelsson served as a guest judge in a blind taste test that finally saw Hayden emerge as a winner. Meanwhile Tania and her dry vegan cake were sent packing.
EPISODE 5 – Cooking for munchkins
Chefs are used to cooking for all kinds of palates, but everyone knows kids are the hardest to please. Enter this week’s Quickfire, in which the remaining chefs went head-to-head to see who could make an unfriendly kid ingredient actually taste… well, tasty. As the only chef with children, it seemed like a given when Renee pulled off the big W with her cabbage salad.
EPISODE 5 – Benet nearly chops off a finger
Those mandoline slicers can be tricky. Just ask Benet, who took a chunk of his finger off with one during the Elimination Challenge prep. In the end the chef was okay, but we all held our breath for a while there.
EPISODE 5 – A double elimination
We usually hated group projects in school because it was always possible that one weak link could take everyone else down. Enter this week’s double Elimination Challenge, in which Renee picked teams of two to hock fare at Assembly Chef’s Hall. While Benet and Wallace rocked it with their Big-Small plates, it was Dennis and Sebastien, with their Crazy Canard plates, who were shockingly sent home. Womp, womp.
EPISODE 6 – Mushrooms for dessert
Some people can’t wrap their heads around mushrooms on a regular day, but Wallace truly made them a star with a winning mushroom soup dessert and ice cream that impressed during the tasting menu Quickfire. No wonder the Six-Pack chef won this one.
EPISODE 6 – The crew heads to the carnival
Canada’s Wonderland served as the backdrop to this week’s Elimination Challenge, in which the chefs were asked to use a luxury ingredient, like saffron or caviar, to recreate a classic carnival dish. Now that’s a theme park we’d like to visit.
EPISODE 6 – Paul turns to Plan B
It really seemed like Paul was done for when his saffron rice crackers stuck to the paper and he had to toss the whole thing out while on site. Luckily for him he had a backup plan—he whipped out masa flour and made makeshift nachos from that instead. We give you full points for ingenuity, Paul.
EPISODE 6 – Benet and the terrible, no-good day
Speaking of Benet, it seemed like everything he touched just turned to dust in the episode, didn’t it? From his frantic prep, in which he was burning toppings and dropping dishes, to his failed ice cream at the service, he seemed doomed from the very beginning. Sure enough, the chef became the latest one to go home after the judges were utterly unimpressed with his carnival fare.
EPISODE 6 – Wallace vs Benet
Remember last week’s lovefest between these two challengers when they were both on the winning side? That all went down the drain this week when Benet accused Wallace of cheating with his winning dish. In reality, Wallace only added a little more charcoal to the judges’ version of his donuts, which gave his dough a darker colour. That was a good enough explanation for Mark McEwan and the judges, who were satisfied he didn’t cheat, but things got super tense there for a few minutes.
EPISODE 7 – We all get teary-eyed when the loved ones stop by
With one week to go, the competition is getting intense. So what better way to diffuse the tension than with a well-deserved visit from some loved ones? There were tears all-around as Renee hugged her husband, Phil reunited with his mom, and all of the other chefs also got a much-needed taste of home.
EPISODE 7 – Phil and his mom pull of a win
As is usually the case on this show, there was a Quickfire twist when the chefs were asked to cook with an ingredient that their loved ones brought from home. The catch? They had to be hands-off for the first 15 minutes of the challenge while their visitors got things started. In the end Phil had the best delegation skills, and he and his mom Heidi locked in the win.
EPISODE 7 – The chefs get sudsy
Everyone thinks to pair food with wine, but what about beer? Thanks to this week’s elimination challenge, the five remaining chefs had the opportunity to take a Mill Street brew and create a winning dish to match. To be honest from where we were sitting, we just wanted to try all of those delicious-sounding droughts.
EPISODE 7 – Last woman standing
From the beginning Renee wanted to be known as a great chef and not just a great “female” chef, but as the last woman representing her gender in the competition we were sad that her bland curry landed her in the bottom this week, and ultimately out the door. Meanwhile, Paul was back on top of his game with a nitro stout-inspired dessert that knocked the judges’ socks off.
EPISODE 8 – The final four
Watching Hayden, Wallace, Phil and Paul enter the Café kitchen for the last time, we couldn’t help but feel nervous. Especially when they were tasked with recreating a dish with some of their winning ingredients from the past. While Paul easily landed himself yet another win, and Hayden once again played it a little too safe for the judges, it felt like Phil or Wallace could have easily secured that last spot. In the end it was Phil who muscled through, leaving the Six-Pack Chef behind.
EPISODE 8 – Phil and Paul faceoff
We should have known it would be these two in the finale. After all, Phil did say Paul was the guy he wanted to beat in this competition from the beginning. What we didn’t expect were former winners Dale MacKay and Ross Larkin to stop by as the respective sous-chefs for this final dinner service. That just brought the competition to a whole new level.
EPISODE 8 – Paul takes home the top honours
It was close, but in the end Paul’s refined plates and his playful flavour combinations catapulted him to become this year’s Top Chef Canada. In a season of unexpected twists and turns this was probably the one thing we could have called, but that didn’t make Paul’s win any less exciting. Now excuse us while we start packing our bags for Tofino. We need to visit Paul’s restaurant to sample his unique cuisine immediately.