Top Chef Canada exit interview, episode 12: put a ring on it
This season, we’re 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: David Chrystian of Victor.
We have to ask: Did you end up proposing to your girlfriend right after the show?
Yes I did.
It was a yes!
Congratulations! I hope you didn’t spend all the $20,000 on the ring.
Oh no no, I know there’s enough other stuff you have to pay for too.
Your huge accumulated winnings—they must be a pretty big consolation for not making it to the finals.
It sure is. It was five weeks of our lives, so I was compensated for five weeks of that, for sure.
Marc Thuet did not like your cîpate. He found it lacked seasoning. Did you agree?
I ate it before the service. You know what it was? There was not enough time to make puff pastry. I used the pastry that was supplied in pantry, and I feel like that was probably one of the things that was easy to be critical about. And the other was, maybe there was too much pastry versus filling. At the end of the day, I wanted to make cîpate throughout the whole thing.
Oh, you’d planned on making it?
Yeah, if I did any training before the whole thing, it was trying to create seven or eight things that I really wanted to bang out. The bacon-wrapped pasta, for the Kraft Dinner challenge? That was going to be bacon-wrapped linguine. And so I had a chance to do that one. Essentially it’s just a carbonara.
Had you met Marc Thuet before?
Sure, sure. I never did work with him, but I worked with many people who worked with him after me or before. So I had a pretty good sense of who he has been and who he is now.
So you weren’t intimidated to see him and Biana Zorich?
Intimidated? No. You know what? I never felt intimidated at all, except by our own judging panel, because they, you know, had a lot to say to me. I knew he was a really serious judge, and that you had to pull out the best that you can do.
Your final dish—it looked beautiful, but the judges said it tasted awful.
I did take their criticism to heart all along. In my opinion, the challenge was about fashion, so I tried to make the food look beautiful, I tried to do as many different things as I could, a lot of different colours and shapes and textures. And I thought that was the challenge. A lot of fashion is, you know, not very wearer-friendly [laughs]. So if the meal wasn’t awesome in the palate, I could name several different outfits that take a lot to get squeezed into. But what can I say? It was intended to have been eaten all together, and I know they never ate it like that—they ate it piece by piece and bite by bite. I mean it would be horrible if you ate just a big piece of that chive jelly! At the end of the day, it’s a cooking competition, so it has to taste good.
You started the season really weak, but then emerged as a sort of powerhouse later on. What happened?
I got more confident. I was living in two places at the same time—I didn’t even have a reality check that I was really in the program until three or four episodes in. I was in a daydream. And to be chastised right away—my nerves were shot, and I didn’t have any confidence. But as the quickfires happened and as some of the competitions happened, they became really fun. And then I started to embrace the idea that this is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and I should really try to enjoy it.
How are things at Victor? You’re the part-owner, right?
It’s great! We do viewings every Monday, and that’s a good crowd. In general, our reservations are up. A new summer version of our Toronto tasting menu will roll out in a week or two, and there’ll be some of the dishes from the show highlighted on it. The ones that I did well in are all very beautiful and aesthetic dishes.
The judges did not like your Toronto Spice mix. Are you still using it?
I have modified it [laughs], and I’m still using it, and it’s still part of what we do, for sure.
Finally: any big future plans? Or are you mostly just focused on the wedding?
That’s of course one of the biggest future plans of all time! August!