Tuesday, July 5, 2011

TCC Finale: Tous Ensemble: Chef MacKay Blows the Competition Away

No surprise with this Monday's outcome, Dale MacKay took the title of Canada's Top Chef. We blogged this in May when Chef MacKay opened his restaurant Ensemble in Vancouver (BC). Dale also looked extremely determined from the get go of the series. Remember the first challenge? The opening of Ensemble immediately piqued our interest as it was a high profile opening that was riding on the thunder of Top Chef Canada.

Prior-to the opening of Ensemble, they Tweeted some "under construction" pics of the restaurant. We requested some pics of the kitchen. "I'll post a pic up tomorrow!" Ensemble replied. We were surprised with a response, considering they were opening a restaurant, but we never noticed any kitchen pics on Twitter. We of course hoping for a glimpse of some GE kitchen appliances that are awarded to the winning Chef. The opening of Chef MacKay's restaurant, immediately after the shuttering of Daniel Boulud's Vancouver resto, Lumière, where Dale was Executive Chef, was a big blip on the radar during the airing of Top Chef. We bet it was a lot easier getting a table at Ensemble a few weeks ago.

As previously mentioned on our blog, Chef Rob Rossi's recent announcement that he was leaving Mercatto caused us some doubt about our long standing prediction that Dale would take the title. We were sort of correct with this thought because Connie DeSousa took third instead of second as we had predicted. We did not see the humoristic Rossi making any jokes after finishing second and losing to Dale. We felt a bit sad for Rossi because we did see Dale and DeSousa hugging family members at end of the show but where was the love for Rossi? We hope the show's Producers brought in some family support for Rossi and that this scene only ended up on the cutting room floor otherwise talk about adding-insult to injury. Rossi has demonstrated that he is an incredibly talented Chef with an impressive repertoire of technique and knowledge at his disposal. 

It is interesting that the two finalists represent the two current, and opposing, culinary trends. Rossi is comfort food, classic-style dishes and flavours. Dale or "fancy pants" MacKay, as he was dubbed in the finale, does deconstructed dishes that are very modern looking. During the series the judges kept using the word precious in describing MacKay's food. The finale was really a battle between modern and classic cooking styles. As a Chef, Dale's dishes are out of the box, just compare them to someone like Rossi ans his classic style. 

Chef Mackay's win comes with a bit of controversy as one of his courses (it was a 3 course challenge) was served on two plates. The Dalegate, or rather Daleplate, controversy focuses on his Surf and Turf dish that was presented on two plates. If Mac and Cheese had been served with a cheese sauce on the side (probably the worst choice for a Top Chef finale but makes our point) count as two dishes? DeSousa's dessert had three separate and distinct components but was served on the same plate. We really think the Daleplate debate is about presentation and plating. MacKay chose Surf and Turf and served it on two plates. Dale the deconstructionist took the dish so far apart it had to be served on two plates. As the judges pointed out it was a gamble that paid off but it could have gone the other way if one of the dishes failed.

We have had fun following and blogging Top Chef Canada. Some of the best discoveries to come out of this experience involves ousted competitors. The purchase of Rebekah's Pearse's Sweet Seasonal Desserts (available here on Amazon) was an unexpected surprise. The cookbook teaches you how to make easy and delicious desserts (not cookies). This is a fun and welcome addition to anyone's cooking repertoire. It is also our suggested reading for any Top Chef Season 2 competitors that want to add a few desserts to their bag of tricks and help ensure their survival on the show. Another great discovery is the $35 Dinner menu at Derek Bocking's (he is Sous-Chef) restaurant, Beaver Hall. This is  great dining bargain, included in the price is an appetizer, main course and half a bottle of wine. We are of course looking forward to the next season and finding out who will be Canada's next Top Chef competitors.

Beaver Hall: Support Your Local Top Chef
Spoiler Alert! Coming soon to Jazz & Fuzy

Bulgogi Hot-Dogs

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