So I just finished watching the debut episode of Top Chef Canada. The thing that was the most striking for me was how utterly similar it was to the first season. Toronto location? Check. Three women? Check. French guy? Check. Same credits, same condo, same music, same sets.
The big difference? NO LOBLAWS!! The cheftestants don't go shopping, don't appear to have budget restrictions, and don't have to make do with the selection of a grocery store's shelves. Sponge Towels has graduated to the level of major sponsor, so get ready to see a LOT of spill-cleaning this season.
We meet the chefs, they do the classic reception-buffet quickfire challenge, which features lots of running around under the hawk-eyes of Mark McEwan and new host Lisa Ray. We are reminded that McEwan has the fairest palate in the land, as he points out to a mortified cheftestant that the tuile she chose is made from *gasp!* Parmesan, NOT potato, DUH! He succeeds at communicating his superiority with nothing more than a look and a pause, a tiny cock of the eyebrow when Xavier (the only chef of the 16 that I know personally) denies that his melty brie skewer was deep fried. Dun-dun-DUUUN!
The chefs do a quick intro to their new digs and then it's off to the elimination challenge. They run around, cook some food, talk about it, and the judges judge. We learn that bread foam really is as awful as it sounds. We learn that a master's in engineering is all you need to make great Peking duck. We learn that wearing a tall toque (also known as the shark-fin) doesn't prevent you from being the first one to get kicked off Top Chef (William, we barely knew ya).
Trista wins the challenge, along with some cash, for her rendition of "meat & potatoes". I'm sure she gave a more eloquent explanation of her dish, but that's what you get in the first episode, with sixteen chefs to introduce, there's not much time for poetry. Trista is being portrayed as having a nice chip on her shoulder about being the wife of another chef, and at first glance her intensity reminds me of Connie. I'm gonna go out on a limb here and make a totally un-scientific prediction: she will win the series.
Seeing the chefs' sweat-soaked faces and watching the chaos of the first episode brought back lots of memories of my own experience on Top Chef, and it was enjoyable to watch. Like most viewers, I'm looking forward to learning more about the contestants, and watching the drama unfold.