Eating & Drinking

Stofa’s Imrun Texeira and Dominique Dufour of Gray Jay cook on-screen in Top Chef Canada

The #eatlocal movement is gathering steam as Ottawa foodies step up their takeout game to keep their favourite restaurants busy. Now local foodies can #watchlocal, as well, with the delicious distraction that is Top Chef Canada.

The new season of Top Chef Canada will air Monday, April 13 at 10pm ET. Local viewers can cheer for Stofa sous chef Imrun Texeira and Gray Jay chef-owner Dominique Dufour (if you miss it live, you can catch it the next day on the Food Network site). 

Chef Dominique Dufour of Gray Jay on set at Top Chef Canada

With a $100,000 prize on the line, the two fiercely competitive chefs face stiff competition from 10 fellow chefs from some of the best restaurants across the country. 

City Bites Insider caught up with Imrun Texeira to ask what it was really like behind the scenes at Top Chef Canada — and what he gained from this high-pressure experience.

Imrun Texeira, sous chef at Stofa, competing in Top Chef Canada

If you win the $100,000, what will you do with the money?
I’d definitely use some of the money to travel. I’d take my mother back to Tanzania, because she hasn’t been able to go back since she left when she was a child, and it’s been a dream of hers to return. I’d also invest a good portion of it for the future — as we all know, chefs don’t earn a lot cooking.

Two-time Top Chef Canada competitor Jonathan Korecki described the competition as an “extreme sport.” Why put yourself through it?
I would definitely describe it as an extreme sport, too! I love the rush, though. I have spent my whole life playing competitive sports and I like to be in high-stress situations. I love the adrenaline.

Going in, which of your fellow chefs were you most stressed to see (and why)?
Going in, I only knew Dominique. She definitely gave me a bit of the jitters because she is a highly skilled and successful chef. I went in as the youngest chef in the competition, so I knew people were going to think of me as the underdog.

Which is scarier? Elimination Challenge or QuickFire Challenge?
Elimination Challenge. There is more on the line as no one wants to be going home. QuickFires are aggressive and fast-paced since you have to think and move quickly. 

Are you looking forward to being a household face?
Damn… hard to think I’ll be considered a household face. Can’t say it would be a bad thing at all, but it will be something I’ll have to get use to.

Pitch it to Ottawa readers. Why watch Top Chef Canada?
This season will easily be the most anticipated yet. It has such a diverse and skillful selection of Top Chefs. The challenges are intense and difficult and we will be cooking for resident and guest judges that are rated as some of the best in the world at what they do. If that doesn’t excite you, I don’t know what will.

Quickfire Round!

TCC hero/heroine:
Mark Singson [runner up, Season 6]. Dude seems super chill and I feel we would get on well. He stays true to himself and cooks from the heart. Plus we love our moms!

Judge you were most star struck by:
David Zilber [from Noma, a two-Michelin-star restaurant in Copenhagen]. He’s very talented and inspiring. He’s a modern culinary pioneer and it would be a pleasure to cook for — or even with — him.

Competitor you were most excited to meet:
Xin [Mao, chef/owner of M8 Bistro & Bar in Vancouver]! That guy is probably the funniest, most humble, and loving guy I’ve ever met. His smile and laugh can brighten anyone’s day.

One word to describe your TCC experience:
Surreal.

Watch It: The program airs Monday, April 13 at 10pm ET. If you miss it live, you can catch it the next day on the Food Network site.

Hot Tip: Prep ahead! The TCC blog includes a quick bio of the each of the contestants, their strengths and weaknesses, and even predictions of how they’ll do in Season 8.

Hot Tip #2: Hungry? Check the websites of Stofa Restaurant and Gray Jay to see whether they are offering takeout or consider buying a gift certificate for a future visit.