Whistler's Top Chef has left the building.
Jimmy Stewart, the local representative on the current season of Top Chef Canada, was eliminated from last week's episode following an elimination challenge that saw the remaining contestants preparing food for a television film crew.
At 23, Stewart was the youngest contestant to ever appear on Top Chef Canada. But he still managed to make it halfway through the season before being sent home, beating out chefs from all over Canada who had years of experience over him.
The dishes that got him eliminated? A minestrone soup featuring porcini mushrooms and truffle oil that the judges deemed too overpowering for their tastes and a spring green salad they said was too simple.
"It was like dirt," said judge Shereen Arazm during the episode.
The Bearfoot Bistro sous chef, on the other hand, begged to differ, replying to the judges that he stands behind his food and thought they were both good dishes.
"I definitely disagreed. There was a lot of things said that they didn't show (during the episode), but they were basically trying to haggle me down to getting me to admit that I was wrong," Stewart told The Question on Monday (May 7). "I could definitely tell they were not appreciative of my style of cooking and I knew from there it was going to be a real uphill battle from that."
But despite going home early, Stewart said the experience he received from the show led him to becoming a better chef and allowed him to analyze the way he performs in the kitchen.
"I definitely came away with a bit more maturity. Working with a lot of people on the show was fun and I learned to start self-editing - why I'd decide to go with certain food," explained Stewart. "I was also able to get a strong grasp of what I am and knowing what I'm capable of in just a few hours (of cooking)."
The show was filmed last summer, but Stewart said he never had the urge to tell his friends and family how far he made it, citing a pretty hefty non-disclosure agreement (NDA) he signed prior to appearing on the show.
"I had to sign a million dollar (NDA) so I wasn't going to be saying anything," laughed Stewart. "Even if I won the show, that's $900,000 that I still had to pay so it's pretty easy to hold on to the secret when that's looming over your head."
As for how life has been since the show began airing in March, Stewart said it has been interesting to see how the Food Network edited and prepared each episode, as there's quite a bit of footage left out.
"It is an extremely edited show and it is very scripted too, so people should take that with a grain of salt," said Stewart on how the show is presented to audiences. "Us being the competitors watching it, we all send each other text messages back and forth saying things like, 'Holy shit, I can't believe they put us saying that, there.' Or they cut that scene from there and put it here or sometimes they would completely ignore things that happened in an episode."
For example, Stewart noted that in one episode the editing left out the detail that he had sustained a concussion before the elimination challenge, while another episode had the group scrambling to prepare 100 mocktails for a group of pregnant women and that was never aired.
"In restaurant wars episode I did a salad and Suser (Lee, a guest judge) pointed to me and said 'That was one of the best dishes I've had in a long time. You easily had the best dish of the day,'" explained Stewart. "But because I was on the losing team they never even mentioned that in the show and that kind of wasn't fair."
As for life post-Top Chef Canada, Stewart is actually moving to Australia for a while to work as a cook. He's finishing work at the Bearfoot Bistro this week.
"I have some friends down there at some good restaurants," said Stewart. "You're only young once, right? So I've got to get it in while I can."
While he's been offered a few jobs from other restaurants following his stint on Top Chef, Stewart said he wants to leave the role of sous chef behind for the time being and get back to just being a cook again.
"I just want to cook right now and then come back and see if those contacts are still available," explained Stewart. "When you're a cook you don't have the responsibilities of ordering, you just focus on making the food perfect and you're only worrying about the food that you're touching.
"Right now I think I'd enjoy the simplicity."