Discovered Culinary Competition is searching for Canada’s next great undiscovered chef. For the third year, Nella Cucina is giving up-and-coming Canadian chefs the chance to showcase their skills in front of a panel of judges made up of industry leaders and a live audience.
Good Food Revolution’s Jamie Drummond was one of those judges in the spring of 2013. Impressed with the competition, he was pleased to accept the role of MC/host for 2015.
For the past 15 weeks, Jamie has hosted contestants from various restaurants around the Greater Toronto Area with varying levels of experience, as they work against the clock in a high energy, 3-course, black box competition. We chatted with Jamie about being so closely involved with the competition this year, the premise behind Good Food Revolution and, of course, what he and the Discovered contestants think of WÜSTHOF knives.
WÜSTHOF Canada is proud to be a title sponsor of Discovered Culinary Competition. To make sure contestants are at their sharpest, we’ve set up each competitor station with a full block set of Classic Ikon Knives.
Hi Jamie! So tell us, what has the competition been like so far?
I have to say that we have seen some seriously passionate and talented competitors already. Whether they have come from a highly acclaimed Toronto fine dining establishment or a small pub in Ajax, the base skill level of the majority of the competitors has been remarkably high.
I really don’t know how on earth they manage to pull off so many of the dishes with such aplomb… with a box of mystery ingredients, a boisterous audience, some extremely critical (but fair) judges, and a countdown clicking down. I know that I would be a complete mess under such pressure.
Now, to be fair, saying all that, sometimes the plates don’t quite turn out the way the cooks had envisioned, or perhaps they just had pretty weird visions. I’ve witnessed quite a few absolute culinary disasters over the years. Judging the dishes isn’t always the bed of roses one would imagine! In those particular cases, I think it is extremely important that the judges make a point of giving honest constructive criticism without going into the over-the-top theatrics and ridicule of reality show food television. That’s not what the Discovered Culinary Competition is about.
What is it about Discovered Culinary Competition that makes it such a great opportunity for chefs?
I feel that the opportunity to compete with one’s peers in such a positive educational environment is something unique to this competition. As I mentioned, the point-by-point constructive criticism from our carefully selected judges is such an important part of the experience for our competitors. None of the judges are there to belittle the cooks, only to point out what they did well and how they could improve upon techniques and/or execution.
It’s always a little sad as we eliminate one competitor each round, as in the end “There Can Be Only One”, but the camaraderie between the competitors never fails to impress me. I’ve seen more than a few teary eyes as cooks consolidate/congratulate one other during those difficult elimination moments.
And then, of course, there is the prize! Which young cook wouldn’t want an all expenses covered, two week trip to Spain to stage in a Michelin-starred restaurant? Hell, maybe I’ll enter next year!
Have you used WÜSTHOF knives before? What do you think of them?
Ha… now that one is a bit of a sore point!… *grumble*
I did have a large WÜSTHOF Chef’s blade and a smaller paring knife that were my favourite go-to knives for many a year. I was always able to keep them both so very sharp, and I really liked the heavier weight of that larger piece, especially when I had a lot of chopping to do for a big dinner party or family gathering. Cooking at home is what I do to relax, and so I do a fair bit of cooking/relaxing.
Unfortunately I lost them in a move a couple of years back. I think that I must have mislabelled a box during that move, as I am still missing a lot of my kitchen stuff. I still wonder to this day where on earth those knives got to. I wonder who is using them today!
What do the contestants think about using WÜSTHOF knives during the competition?
Many competitors have mentioned that the WÜSTHOF knives they have there are better than those in their Chef’s rolls. Some have even put aside the knives that they brought along with them for the competition, choosing the WÜSTHOF knives supplied instead. This doesn’t surprise me. Those are some nice knives!
Also, they are incredibly sharp! Just the other week one of the competitors discovered just how sharp. Thank goodness for finger bandages as he went on to win his round!
TELL US ABOUT GOOD FOOD REVOLUTION.
Malcolm Jolley and I founded Good Food Media just over five years ago as a non-profit with a mandate to educate people about artisanal food and wine (and beers and spirits). Through our website Good Food Revolution (www.goodfoodrevolution.com) we report on food, wine, and all things related from all over the world with very much Toronto/Ontario/Canadian optics.
We have no advertisers on the site, the funding coming exclusively from Good Food Fighters (invited sponsors) who share the same philosophies as ourselves.
After five years we are incredibly proud of the vast archive of text and video interviews and articles we have published over this time.
We wish all the contestants the best of luck as they move into the semi-finals & finals!
Curious to know how 2014 Discovered Culinary Competition Winner Jeremy Austin's stage in Spain went? Check out our interview with him here.