Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Mike Holmes' Guest Appearance On Top Chef Canada

Earlier this year, Mike made a very special appearance as a guest judge on the Food Network Canada show Top Chef Canada. The question I have to ask is, what does the self-proclaimed "meatitarian" Mike Holmes know about food? Well... he knows he likes to eat it! And to that I say with gusto, "me too!"

It sure was entertaining watching all of these undoubtedly talented chefs ripping and hacking food apart with utility knives and saw blades.

Here's the real question...if I could cook Mike a meal, what would I make him? I'm pretty lean and mean in the kitchen, I tell you what. I'd probably cook him a plate of my homemade slow-cooked chicken and pork enchiladas with homemade tortillas, topped with my legendary avocado and roasted corn salsa. Yummy. Mike would not leave my house hungry, that's for damn sure. I would, however, refrain from using any power tools to cook the meal. I would be fearful they would scratch all of my non-stick cook wear. Sorry to disappoint you, Mike.

(Note to self... do not give Mike Holmes a plate of raw fish or fruit. It will not win any brownie points. Check.)

Here's a slightly critical, but thorough recap of the episode from TorontoLife's The Dish:

Top Chef Canada recap, episode 2: hokey doke

Does meatitarian Mike Holmes look happy with Elizabeth Rivasplata’s black cod carpaccio? (Image: Top Chef Canada)

The original U.S. version of Top Chef tries to maintain a steely cool tone with the chefs run ragged and constantly at each other’s throats (witness the bullying of poor Beverly Kim this season). The Canadian version, however, has never been afraid of sustained periods of hokeyness—which might explain last night’s episode featuring celebrity tough-guy contractor Mike Holmes. We can’t say exactly what culinary expertise Holmes brought to bear on the competition. We can say, though, that Holmes’s wildly popular renovation shows all air on HGTV Canada, which is mostly owned by Shaw, which also owns most of Food Network Canada. So whatever else his appearance was, it was a fine display of brand convergence in the best Top Chef fashion.


As the chefs entered the GE Monogram kitchen (the camera panning to display an improbably placed roll from sponsor SpongeTowels), they were confronted with a large display covered by a sheet. “For this quickfire you’ll be using a whole new set of tools,” said host Lisa Ray before revealing—you guessed it—household tools like hammers, saws and set squares. On cue, in strolls Holmes in short sleeves, who quickly warns the chefs, “I’m not expecting to see any crap in here and I’m not gonna put up with it!” The challenge: using only the household tools, “construct” (get it?) a refined dish for a self-described “meatitarian.”

Gabriell Cruz’s winning velouté (Image: Top Chef Canada)
While some chefs, like Trevor “I’m not a handyman at all!” Bird and Sarah “Oh no!” Tsai expressed reservations, most quickly realized that saws and exacto knives do a decent job of cutting meat and veggies (Jimmy Stewart took a particularly mean-looking saw to some celeriac, although sadly we didn’t get to see what he created with it). At the bottom of the heap this time, Trevor, Ryan Gallagher and Elizabeth Rivasplata, three chefs who, foolishly, served fish to the meat-mad handyman. At the top, Carl Heinrich, with a massive pork chop and mashed potatoes, Trista Sheen, with a hefty chicken salad sandwich, and the winner, Gabriell Cruz of Quatrefoil, whose thick sausage and onion velouté with poached mussels wowed Holmes despite his initial reservations. For our part, we were wowed at all the f-bombs this usually mild-mannered chef dropped.

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