The Top Chef Canada exit interview: episode 2, chopped and skewered
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: Kunal Ghose of Victoria, B.C.
You were probably one of the more experienced chefs in the competition this year.
Yeah, in terms of raw man hours, for sure.
Were you surprised to go out this early then?
Yeah, I was disappointed to go out that early, but you know—if you mess up, then you’re gone. I’m used to high stress and high volume, but one thing I wasn’t used to was the heat and humidity of Toronto. That being said, you know there’s going to be crazy competitions before you get to be on the show.
Tell me a bit about what you were trying to do with your dish.
The hope was for it to be kind of a Mediterranean tandoori. I used harissa and yogurt to marinate the pork, and then I served it with a carrot sultana slaw and some orange yogurt.
How did you end up cooking the pork?
My big hunks of marinated pork got cooked right on the open flame, basically.
You work in a fish restaurant. Is it fair to say you went a little out of your comfort zone with your dish?
No—I’ve cooked all different kinds of food in my career. Cooking that big a piece of pork on an open grill isn’t something that I’ve done before, and in hindsight I definitely would have butchered it down to maybe even skewer-sized pieces. My whole team was behind the way we were doing it—we thought it was going to be flavourful and juicy and impressive to cook that on an open grill. We did get it fully cooked. But the pieces that the judges ended up getting were dry. Originally I’d hoped to do chicken thighs, but there just wasn’t enough chicken thighs there at the store. My dad used to make this amazing tandoori chicken, so I was going to go that route.
Did you taste it as it went along? Did you agree it was bland?
I guess so? I think that if there had been some of the marinade cooked down and put on there, then it would have been a really solid dish, if it was just a little juicier. I mean—trust me, it’s run through my head every night since it’s happened.
Were you a Mike Holmes fan at all?
Yeah, I got a lot of respect for Mike Holmes.
What was he like?
He’s a great guy. I don’t know how much he knows about food—but he likes to eat. In some ways, it’s probably better to get kicked off with a guy that fixes houses than like Marcus Samuelsson or something. I mean, he didn’t mind my food. He actually liked it!