Top Chef Canada: Attack of the Cheese top-secret no more


Judgment time at Top Chef Canada: Cheese is up next.


Former Susur Lee Sous-Chef Dustin Gallagher’s playful tussle with a large block of fromage in Episode 1 gave Top Chef Canada viewers a heads-up on a key ingredient in upcoming Episode 2: Canadian cheese!

Titled “Cheese, Glorious, Cheese” and airing on Food Network Canada on Monday at 9 p.m. ET/10 p.m. PT, the chefs battle with each other in typical Top Chef style with first a quickfire and then an elimination based on creating appetizing cheese dishes.  It’ll be quite a challenge for some, particularly Gordon Ramsay protégé Chef Dale Mackay who admits to not having much experience cooking with cheese, as well as Calgary Chef and Sommelier Rebekah Pearse who calls the challenge “a little tough.”

The chefs are given a range of Canadian cheeses from coast to coast. Will they use gouda from Gort’s Gouda Cheese Farm in B.C., Alberta’s Sylvan Star Cheese, or Ontario’s Thunder Oak Cheese Farm?  Cheddar from Quebec’s Perron or Wilton’s Cheese Factory in Ontario?  Perhaps they will create from a hodgepodge of cheeses?  Selecting the wedges they know, the culinary contenders craft distinct plates for a cocktail party of 50 guests who help the judges in their selection of the second chef to be asked to pack his or her knives and go.

The most watched original premiere in Food Network Canada’s history, Top Chef Canada continues to vigorously protect its trade secret: the element of surprise. The cheeses procured and showcased? Guarded jealously. News of a guest judge from the cheese industry? Mum’s the word. We’ll have to watch Monday’s episode to find out!

—Gabi Gopie-Tree

Gabi has a law and politics background but her passion for food, wine, and entertainment developed from nearly a decade in Europe and the U.K. where, she discovered, many still find the time to enjoy the finer things in life. Gabi blogs about food, wine, music, travel, and life at

Editor’s note:

It’s amazing how tightly shrouded in secrecy the producers of Top Chef Canada like to keep their show before it airs. Witness the scant information was able to obtain for the above report.

No mention of even the basics, such as Dairy Farmers of Canada being the sponsor of the episode and provider of the cheese.

Even cheese and wine expert Julia Rogers, a good friend and supporter and presenter at The Great Canadian Cheese Festival we’re organized, wouldn’t say boo when we emailed for confirmation about her serving as the guest judge on Episode 2.

“Sorry, but I signed a confidentiality agreement as thick and detailed as could be. I will not be able to comment on anything you ask prior to the show airing, except to say that the challenge involved Canadian cheese,” she emailed.

But, if the truth were known, Julia did post this tidbit on her Facebook page:

Top Chef Canada spoiler alert . . . On Monday, watch me judge contestants’ cocktail party cheese offerings with as much integrity as possible, while wearing false eyelashes and losing the microphone down my dress.

From other sources, we learned:

Monday’s episode of Top Chef Canada on the Food Network will be all about CHEESE!  The episode will be the main ingredient in the two key challenges in the show and will be featured prominently throughout the show.

The first challenge of the show is the “Quickfire Challenge” that measures specific skill sets of the competitors. For the challenge, a table full of cheeses made from 100% Canadian Milk will be unveiled to the competitors and they will be asked to create a dish using as many cheeses as they wish and then describe the dish and the inspiration behind it.

In the “Elimination Challenge,” the competitors will be divided into teams and will be given a specific Canadian Cheese and a meal course to work within. The chefs must then create a dish around their kind of cheese that works within the corresponding course in the dinner service—which is at an actual function. This challenge will showcase the versatility and variety of Canadian cheese.

We’ve posted the video clip that is posted on the Food Network Canada website at the top of this post. Those who are unable to watch the show Monday night will be able to view it on the website Tuesday.

—Georgs Kolesnikovs

Georgs Kolesnikovs is Cheesehead-in-Chief at He’ll have a tape in the old VCR on Monday night as he and SO will be at the Drake Hotel taking in the Battle of Paté organized by Ivy Knight as part of her 86’d series of fun food events.