Chef Jesse Vergen is one of two talented chefs to get axed from last night’s Top Chef Canada episode – alongside Chef Vittorio Colacitti. Chef Jesse is the Executive Chef at Saint John Ale House, and a firm believer in the local food movement! Let’s see what this well-rounded chef had to say about his experience on Top Chef Canada…
How was your experience on Top Chef Canada?
It was pretty deadly; one of the toughest things I’ve ever experienced but at the same time it was filled with so many challenges that tested me on so many levels that when I got back I felt like I had grown as a chef and had made so many great contacts with chefs from all over Canada. I think my enjoyment of the competition came though pretty well.
What were the biggest challenges and best rewards about being a part of the show?
At first it was dealing with the fact that you’re cooking in a kitchen you have never been in… you’re not only trying to create a winning dish but you’re reacting to an unfamiliar environment where you have no clue where anything is. Then, as things progressed, your mind wanders onto things like your family, teams, things you know are going on… we didn’t have access to our cell phones to send a text and check up on what was happening at home.
The best reward for me was being able to create some excitement in my hometown – having four elimination wins built a lot of pride in our small province.
What are you most excited about for the future?
Right now, a big excitement for my family is getting our house rebuilt (that burned down on Christmas Day), and moving back into it. On a professional level I’m looking forward to cooking with some of my fellow competitors in a non-competitive environment. Ha!
Tell us about your audition video – what was the inspiration?
It was inspired by duck hunting on the salt marshes on the south shore of NB… it was wild black duck, cattail salad, and periwinkles with foraged sand fire greens.
Why do you think the team at Top Chef Canada picked your audition tape?
I think it was because of the unique dish I made (not something that could be reproduced by going to the store and picking up ingredients) and how the story of the ingredients interacted with each other in a natural environment.
Can you give any tips to chefs who aspire to be on Top Chef Canada?
Make sure you’re ready for anything… you’ll be testing all your knowledge and skills with every challenge.
What is your favourite food/dish?
Love real wild game. I dig gamey-ness!
Finish this sentence. I love Toronto because…
…it’s packed with culinary talent on a global scale!
What are three things you can’t live without?
Water, food, air. Sorry, couldn’t help myself. (Ha!)
What are some of your favourite restaurants and why?
Mallard Cottage/Chinched Bistro in NFLD ’cause the boys are laying down savage flavours with unique local ingredients you won’t see anywhere else in Canada. Bar Isabel/Canoe in Toronto… first meals on the outside after packing my knives. Maison Publique (Derek’s killing it with pub food), Garde Manger (James is smacking out bold, fun flavours), and Vin Papillon in Montreal (Vanya and Marco are an amazing team and the food is drool-on-the-table good).
Check out Chef Jesse Vergen’s audition tape below…
You can catch new episodes of Top Chef Canada every Monday at 9pm on Food Network Canada and get to know the eliminated chefs on View the Vibe the next morning.
What did you think of last night’s episode? Let us know in the comments below or tweet us @ViewTheVibe.