Chef Wylie Dufresne pictured with Top Chef Canada host Lisa Ray.
Celebrated American molecular gastronomy chef Wylie Dufresne was a special guest judge for Top Chef Canada episode eight‘s QuickFire challenge, where each chef had to create the tastiest and most clever dish inspired by a food idiom.
Here are 5 quick facts you need to know about him:
1. Has a B.A. in philosophy from Colby College in Maine.
2. Worked up the ladder of Jean-Georges Vongerichten’s kitchens after graduating from The French Culinary Institute in New York City (NYC).
3. His NYC restaurant wd~50 was awarded a Michelin star in 2006 and kept it through 2010.
4. Won the James Beard Foundation’s Best NYC Chef title in 2013 after being nominated for the award nine times before.
5. Guest judged on Top Chef in seasons 2, 4, 5 and 7. He switched to the other side of the stove when he competed on Top Chef Masters in 2009.
We wanted to learn more about Wylie Dufresne and asked him a eight quick questions he was kind enough to answer.
Q: When did you first discover your talent for cooking?
A: When I started working in restaurants at the age of 11, peeling potatoes.
Q: If you weren’t a chef, what would you be doing?
Q: What piqued your interest in molecular gastronomy?
A: When I first started out, in culinary school and then working in the industry, I started to realize that I knew how to cook but that I didn’t really know why. And I started to ask myself why we poach an egg at a particular temperature or what exactly is happening to a chicken as we roast it. I was looking for answers beyond simply “Because we’ve always done it that way” or “Because it works.” So really, I just set out to find those answers and along the way I was fortunate to speak to actual scientists who had even more to add to the conversation.
Q: How would you convince someone to try molecular gastronomy if they were apprehensive?
A: We hope that people will come to our restaurants with an open mind. We want them to try it because it is delicious and a fun New York dining experience.
Q: What is your favourite flavour to play with?
A: I don’t have a favorite – when I’m working I just try to find a balance.
Q: How do you think you would have performed if you were given this challenge?
A: One always hope to do well! (Although my track record on Top Chef Masters is not so good!)
Q: What advice do you have for the remaining chefs?
A: The danger is that sometimes people over-think it or over-reach. Keep it simple instead of being overly ambitious. Make your goals realistic and focus on the taste above all.
Rich Francis during episode eight’s QuickFire Challenge.
Q: Which chef do you think has the best potential to go home the winner?
A: Well, I really like that it is an open field so it is hard to say. On any given day it could be anyone’s game. Everyone could have one bad showing but still overall be a standout. That is the fun of Top Chef! From what I saw, Rich and Terry both had great visions. But I still think it is anyone’s game!
Terry Salmond during episode eight’s Elimination Challenge.
Watch online Top Chef Canada episode eight “School’s Out for the Chefs.”