Top Chef Canada Turns 10

Top Chef Canada turns up the heat as the homegrown hit celebrates its 10th season

Top Chef Canada turns up the heat as the homegrown hit celebrates its 10th season

It may have been the fifth time that Eden Grinshpan was recording her voiceover for a new season premiere of Top Chef Canada, but as she watched the opening moments of season 10, the longtime host found herself getting emotional. “I was trying to hold back tears,” she tells TV Week. “The goosebumps were a-happening.” While the show has cemented its place in the hearts of Canadians, the premiere also marks another anniversary for Grinshpan. “When I first started, actually, I was newly pregnant with my first-born,” she says. That is not the only family that’s formed in the past half-decade. “Every season when we come back, the crew, the cast, everyone, it’s like seeing family,” the Toronto native explains. “I’ve never really experienced that before, so it’s like when you go to camp and you see someone you haven’t seen all year and there’s that happy energy.” 

Then, of course, she was reminded of what the show does best: showcase new Canadian talent and the culinary scene in our true north strong and free. “It’s really easy to just say, ‘Oh, this is the best season yet,’ every time you renew a show, but I genuinely feel like this is the best season ever,” says Grinshpan. “We have a lot of amazing challenges in this season, incredible locations, and the talent is just through-the-roof talented.” 

As would be expected, the 10th anniversary of this kitchen battle that’s launched the careers of numerous prestigious Canadian chefs will look back at its legacy, welcoming previous contestants who have since made a name for themselves. “To watch the show just bloom into what it is and to see how far all the talent that has competed on this show has come and what they’ve done with their careers, it’s really amazing,” says Grinshpan. “I feel like they did an incredible job at showcasing that. It’s a huge deal that we’ve made it to season 10 and we’re celebrating it big-time with an amazing season.”

But Top Chef Canada’s 10th outing is not just a long trip down memory lane. Fermentation expert and former Noma chef David Zilber joins the judging panel full-time after getting a taste for the competition in its eighth season. “I got such a huge response from being a guest judge, from people that were super-proud to see me on TV, people I used to know, people I used to cook with, a bunch of people who learned about me for the first time,” says Zilber, who travelled from Copenhagen to be part of the season. “Canadians have a way of making themselves feel small on the global scene, but Canada’s a country of over 30 million, of all races and faces, and going back reminded me it’s a big deal. It felt really fun to add my own take on it—like a nice contribution to Canadian gastronomy.”

Top Chef CanadaFoodIn addition to judging the efforts of the 11 hopefuls, Zilber was part of crafting some of the season’s challenges. “The culinary team asked things like, ‘What are your favourite sauces that you’d like to see in some of these challenges? What are the most complicated recipes you can come up with for these guys to chew on?’ ” says Zilber, who manages to insert some of himself into the tasks. “Whether it’s bringing my own cultural history or my own culinary history, I just have to be me, because being me is what’s got me where I am. That’s exactly what the culinary team wanted, which I was happy to provide.”

It never ceases to amaze Grinshpan—who herself graduated from Le Cordon Bleu in London—how innovative the chefs are with the challenges thrown their way. “I have that background, but I think that the pressure would probably be hard for me,” admits the host, explaining: “They’re in a new kitchen, they have a ton of cameras on them watching their every little move. They have these insanely talented peers that they have probably been looking up to forever, they have judges that they admire that they’re cooking for, they have those television lights blaring down on them—which are really hot. Every time we get a new bunch of chefs for this series, I’m like, ‘You’re all winners already.’”

What could be interpreted as an “everybody gets a trophy” sentiment is actually the truth in this case. In fact, Zilber witnessed the reach of the show long before he decided to partake himself. “I’ve seen the people who missed out on the big prize launch whole careers and really propel themselves, even though they didn’t win. If you can charm people, you’ll amass a following,” he says. “The show does breed foodies, but it also instills this love of looking beyond the plate in your favourite restaurant. Like, ‘I’m following this guy I saw on Top Chef. I’m going to try his restaurant.’ It is fun to see how many people follow along with this journey.”

Top Chef Canada’s new season premieres Monday, September 26 on Food Network