Top Chef Canada recap, episode 4: a little backbone
TOP CHEF CANADA Season 3, Episode 4
Last night’s episode of Top Chef Canada started with some heavy-handed foreshadowing. Sounding downbeat, Vancouver’s Kayla Dhaliwall told the confessional cam that after embarrassing herself in the first three challenges, she never wanted to find herself on the bottom again. Toronto’s Becky Ross, on the other hand, was flying high as she lifted weights and did pushups on the the balcony of the chefs’ penthouse (a move she actually admitted was an intimidation tactic). We were ready to call it at this point. One of the two chefs was going to win, and the other was going home. The only question: would the producers pull the classic role-reversal, with Kayla taking the win and 0ver-confident Becky taking a fall? Or would they go for the double-fakeout? Find out in our recap, below.
Most of the chefs seemed unimpressed by this week’s quickfire, for which they was assigned a secret ingredient and asked to come up with the ultimate… doughnut (cue multiple eye rolls). Certain chefs were just doomed: Matthew Stowe was given kimchee and Geoff Rogers had to work with wasabi. Geoff’s solution was to cover his otherwise inedibly spicy doughnut with blue sprinkles. Guest judge Devin Connell, of Paulette’s, was not pleased: “if that had even hit the shelves in my shop I think I would have had to close for the day.” Meanwhile, Kayla was unable to make a churro that didn’t taste like cardboard—despite turning out 200 of them every day at her restaurant. The best pastry came courtesy of Chris Chafe, who was saddled with blue cheese. He managed a delightfully fluffy-looking doughnut with a raspberry port sauce and a pecan-pear-butterscotch topping, and pocketed a cool $5,000 bonus prize for his troubles. (The show was taped on his son Declan’s first birthday, adding an extra awwwww-factor to the win.)
After so many seasons of Top Chef, Top Chef Masters and Top Chef Canada, we get that it’s pretty hard to come up with new ideas, but this week’s challenge basically mirrored episode 8 of the most recent season of the U.S. program, which only aired in December. Divided into two teams with Chris and Kayla as captains, the chefs had to cater a buffet lunch for a roller derby match. According to players Splat Benetar and Lioness, the food needed to be low in fat and protein, but high in carbs. Danny Francis was clearly intimidated by the prospect: “Those girls could kill me. They’re rough…. I don’t even know what roller derby chicks want to eat. I feel like they want to eat my head or eat my arm or beat me with my leg.” Perhaps he had them confused for zombies?
Sadly, the big roller derby match itself looked more like a practice at a tiny local rink—there were no fans, and the chefs actually set up in the middle of the arena. Team Rusty Cleaver, a.k.a. Chris’s team, did not start strong at all. His youth and gentle manner left a power vacuum at the top, which was quickly filled by the strong personalities of Becky (“I will not do a cold pasta salad!”) and Matthew (“I don’t expect him to lead me into anything”). This paid off, however: the judges, including guests Elizabeth Falkner and Trish Stratus (yes, that one), loved the light and healthy food. They loved Becky’s uber-healthy mixed fruit crumble best of all, and awarded the pint-sized chef the win, marking Toronto’s first victory of the season. “I think everyone’s a little intimidated by me now,” she gushed to the confessional cam. Mission accomplished.
This is where things got ugly. As captain of the losing team, Kayla—who made an underwhelming flank steak with chimichurri—was asked to bring two of her five teammates with her to face elimination at judges’ table. But in a tremendous display of backbone (or, perhaps, a broken spirit), she refused to play their diabolical game, and returned to the judge’s table alone, asking to be sent home: “I believe that we’re all great chefs and we’re just having bad days, and I think I’ve had a couple too many bad days. It’s time for me to just put my head out on the chopping block.” We doff our oversized chef’s hat to you, Kayla.
Next time on Top Chef Canada
Head judge Mark McEwan puts on his chef’s whites and shows the cheftestants how it’s done (wait—where have we seen that before?) and Nicole Gomes works through a terrible hangover (“I drank a bottle and a half of wine last night. And two triple gins.”).