I’m so freakin’ excited that Top Chef Canada is back on the Food Network tonight!  I’ve been waiting for the second season of this show forever and now it’s finally here.   It’s funny that I like this show so much, because I’ve never seen the American version and I’m not a very good cook myself.  Sure I can whip up a mean stir fry or bowl of Lucky Charms, but most of the time when I watch TCC, I have no idea what they are even talking about and I don’t even mind that we don’t get to taste the meals that they are making.  The whole show is like one giant stress attack and I’m totally addicted.  I’ve always worked in restaurants and let me know tell you, I know that chefs have TEMPERS.  Even if their most complicated meal of the day is chicken fingers, most chefs are able to convince themselves that they make the best chicken fingers ever and boy, oh boy, are they defensive about it.  Okay, I’ve gotten a little off track.

Top Chef Canada premieres tonight with a new host Lisa Ray and while I haven’t seen the first episode, the chefs have all posted their audition tapes. This year there are sixteen contestants in total and only three women.  But don’t count the women out, last year Connie made it all the way to the finals…and I still believe she was robbed.

Before the ovens get turned on, here are my three favourite chefs to watch this season:

Xavier Lacase, 30, Calgary.
Obviously I’m going to pick the Calgarian first. Come on, what did you expect. But there’s a reason why he’s more than just a Calgarian. He is damn fine at what he does. I’ve eaten at Lecase’s restaurant Muse a couple times and it’s amazing. And since we’re all trying to be a little healthier, a French chef will likely go far thanks to fresh ingredients and delectable dishes. Plus, a chef with an accent? Always good TV.

Trista Sheen, 29, Toronto.

My foodie friends tell me that she’s the best female competitor on the show and she might be the one to beat.  She reminds me a lot of Connie. She seems in control, concentrating on the food and not the drama of the kitchen.  She’s a little quiet, but sometimes, on a show like Top Chef, you don’t want to stick out too much. You want to be able to focus on making the best meal possible. But judging by the comments on the YouTube page, people are already finding her polarizing.  It will be fun to see if she can bring it around the bigger personalities.  Bonus points for supporting local growers.

Jimmy Stewart, 23, Whistler.
At only 23 years old, Stewart is one of the show’s youngest competitors, which means the grueling shooting scheduled will hopefully not be a factor. Oh and did I mention that his name is JIMMY STEWART! I realize that that has nothing to do with his skills in the kitchen, but the headlines of Jimmy Stewart Winning Top Chef Canada is just too fun to not happen. He also worked with last year’s winner Dale Mackay, so he’s got the experience, education (and maybe a little bit of the arrogance) to help make him win.


Top Chef Canada Bonus:  If you’re a fanatic like me, then I’ve got good news for you.  My friend Dan Clapson will be taking on a nearly impossible task for the entire length of the season, and it’s going to be amazing to watch. He’s been brought on by the Food Network to produce thirteen pieces dedicated to teaching you how you can be a top chef! Each Monday night, Top Chef Canada fans will vote (via Facebook, Twitter and FoodNetwork.ca) for their favourite dish from the episode. Once the voting has concluded, He’ll be assigned the viewers’  favourite dish to recreate at home, in his own kitchen. His trials and tribulations will be posted on the Food Network’s website!  Congrats Dan, very well deserved!

Mike Morrison