A big congratulations to Chef Rene Rodriguez, who took home the big win on last night’s season finale of Top Chef Canada. A Le Cordon Bleu educated chef, Rene is not only the winner of Top Chef Canada Season 4, but he’s also the chef and owner of Navarra in Ottawa, Ontario. We caught up with this chef extraordinaire about his experience on the show…
How does it feel to be the winner of Top Chef Canada Season 4?
Honestly, a dream come true. It’s quite an accomplishment.
What was the first thing you thought when they announced your name as Top Chef?
Relief… in a good way. A lot of good emotions came out.
Why did you choose to create that particular winning dish? What was the thinking behind it?
The thinking behind the dish was to trace back to my roots as a chef, to come up with something a little obscure, intriguing, and different.
How was your overall experience on Top Chef Canada?
It was fantastic. I had a great time and learned a lot. I became a more seasoned and well-rounded chef. I will always look back at this experience as a huge stepping stone in my career.
What were the biggest challenges and best rewards about being a part of the show?
Biggest challenges: Being away from my family and my restaurant.
Biggest Rewards: Winning the quickfires and elimination challenges – that’s when you have the assurance that you’re on the right path. That’s really something special.
Now that you are Top Chef, what are your next career steps?
I would like to have my own TV show where we can combine great food and heavy metal rock music… and maybe a motorcycle. That would be a cool concept.
Why do you think the team at Top Chef Canada picked your audition tape?
I think they picked it because there’s a mysterious side of me that people want to get to know. And the fact that I prepared a different type of dish probably didn’t hurt. I debated hitting send. I questioned whether or not I was doing the right thing.
Can you give any tips to chefs who aspire to be on (and win) Top Chef Canada?
Be fearless. Don’t hold back from what you want to do and always make your dish about the primary flavour. If you’re making a dish with lamb, for instance, the lamb has to be the focus and everything else should highlight that. In other words, you have to pick an ingredient and make it taste really good rather than masking it.
What is your favourite food/dish?
A really good poutine. The cheese has to be soft, the gravy not too salty, the fries a little bit crunchy. Throw in some Canadian bacon… that’s my favourite. After you eat a great poutine, you can go right to sleep. It’s very rewarding.
Finish this sentence. I love Toronto because…
…the ethnic diversity is pretty amazing when it comes to food and culture and I love the fact that Toronto is a foodie city. The city appreciates good food and good talent, and it’s always going to support that.
What are three things you can’t live without?
2) A good Italian red wine.
3) A good rib eye steak on the barbecue.
What are some of your favourite restaurants and why?
1) Montreal: Au Pied de Cochon. It’s just out there when it comes to food. It’s so out there that it’s almost disgusting… but in such a good way. It’s delicious and pretty cool.
2) Montreal: Toque. Normand Laprise. He’s a great chef.
3) And well, Susur Lee’s food blows my mind.
Congratulations Chef Rene Rodriguez!
Check out Chef Rene Rodriguez’s audition tape below…
Who do you think should’ve taken home the big win? Let us know in the comments below or tweet us @ViewTheVibe.