Top Chef Canada head judge Mark McEwan pictured with host, Lisa Ray

Top Chef Canada will crown its fourth Canadian Top Chef tonight, Monday May 12. As we get ready for the finale, head judge Mark McEwan shared his thoughts with Food Network Canada (FNC) on the celebrity chefs that joined him at the judges’ table, what he thinks about this latest season and his best Susur Lee impersonation.

FNC: What are some of the male and female chefs that inspire you and you admire, and why?
Mark: Well you know, you take Anthony Walsh and the Canoe group. I think he is one of the best cooks on the stoves that I know. And I’m good friends with Lynn Crawford. I look at the career Lynn has had, from hotel chef to restaurant owner, to working TV and managing all the categories beautifully. I’m old enough now to really be able to reflect back on my relationships these people and they go back 20 years. That’s the best part.
Lynn Crawford as as guest judge in Top Chef Canada episode 6: Restaurant Wars

FNC: This season has some really diverse culinary backgrounds for the chefs: vegan, Thai, and Aboriginal.  How do you think that kind of diverse culinary experience manifested over the season?
Mark: You see a definite character to their cooking right out of the gate. And what happens when you’re under pressure, or time constraints and sort of limited ingredients, you tend to lean on what you know. So, often times they get stuck in that rut as well and it takes them a few challenges to get out of it and to express themselves, and to be able to do something a little bit different. Sometimes it takes me coaching them a little bit, to get them out of that. So it can be a bonus for them, if they land it well, and it can be a bit of a rut for them if they don’t manage it well.

FNC: How was this season different from all the other Top Chef Canada seasons?
Mark: It was very intense. We had some amazing cooking, we had some pretty lousy cooking. We had people that fell apart and we had people that rose up, that I never have imagined would. So we had all sides of it. It was complicated and it was forever changing, but it got better and better and better, and I think it landed. The way it ended, to me, was fantastic.

Amir Johnson (top left) joined the judges’ table in Top Chef Canada episode 5: Game Set Match

FNC: What were some of your favourite moments with the guest judges that were on the show?
Mark: Well Amir [Johnson], he’s like the gentle giant. I felt really short standing next to that man. But he was a lot of fun, very classy, a gentleman, and very soft-spoken. Susur [Lee], who I’ve known for 20 years, has actually developed this really funny sense of humour. I actually imitated him and I sent him the photo of me being Susur. So it took three fans and a hair extension, with my arms folded and my hair flowing.
Mark was kind enough to share with us the photo he sent Susur!

Mark: Lynn [Crawford] is always fun and David Chang, you never know what you’re going to get with David Chang. He’s a pretty intimidating guy. He was more relaxed and down to earth than I thought he might be. He’s always come at it that way, like head on. It was really fun to meet him.
David Chang joined Top Chef Canada as a guest judge in Episode 2: The World According to Chang


Watch tonight’s finale at 9ET/10PT and let us know on Top Chef Canada Facebook and Twitter if you agree with Mark McEwan about who won!