The Top Chef Canada exit interview: episode 1, the case of the missing dumpling

The Top Chef Canada exit interview: episode 1, the case of the missing dumpling

This season, we’ll be chatting with each week’s eliminated chef after they get the boot (or rather, after their boot-getting episode airs—this stuff was recorded months ago). This week’s eliminated chef: William Thompson of Caledonia, Ontario.

William Thompson, the first contestant to be eliminated
William Thompson, the first contestant to be eliminated in season two of Top Chef Canada (Image: Courtesy of Top Chef Canada) 

So it’s never fun to be the first eliminated. Sorry about that.

[Laughs] I’ve had so many phone calls from people already today saying, “Hey man, it’s okay. That’s not the guy we know, that’s not the chef we know.” And I say, “Don’t worry—it’s TV, guys!”

Let’s talk about your dish. Can you explain exactly what you were trying to do?

You know what? I ran out of time, that’s pretty much what happened. I remember when I was a kid, my mom used to make chicken and dumplings all the time. It was just a classic old peasant dish. And that’s where I was going. The bottom line: my dumplings didn’t make it on the plate. I ran out of time.

That’s such a classic Top Chef mistake to make!

Yeah, you’re just running the whole time. When you get out of your element like that, you get beaten up pretty good. As a professional chef, we have mental time to prepare, we have the capacity to say, this is my timing, this is where I’m going, I know where my hand-washing sink is. When you’ve got to run for every little utensil, you’ve got to run for every little thing, and it’s not just hanging there, you just get taken right out of your element.

Did you think the judges gave you a fair shake?

I think so. If I had my plate together, if it was presented and executed the way I wanted to, I was right there. I’m not afraid of my flavours and what I do.

You quit your job to be on the show. What are you up to now?

I was the executive sous-chef at St. Anne’s Spa, and I had to leave mid-season. I’d been there for five years. Now, I’m living in Hamilton, and I’ve been doing some guest chef moonlighting in Niagara and Dundas. I don’t really have a culinary home right now. I didn’t really want to take a big job and say, “Oh, I’m gonna be on TV tonight.”

Where do you see yourself in five years, professionally?

I will definitely be opening my own thing in five years. I’ve reached all my culinary goals so far, and this is the next one: by the time I’m 35, I want to have my own restaurant.

How old are you now?

I’m 31.

And where do you see yourself opening it up?

Oh, Hamilton and Niagara for sure. Hamilton definitely needs to wake up a little bit and see that they’ve got some true talent there.