Interview with Top Chef Canada Competitor Matt Stowe

Chef Matt Stowe

The other day I had lunch with Chef Matt Stowe at Cactus Club Coal Harbour restaurant, sitting by the window overlooking the stunning view of Coal Harbour. Before I interviewed him, we each ordered some dishes off the menu, I was a tad curious since he was the Product Development Chef for Cactus Club what he would end up ordering. Matt told me he likes to eat simple dishes with great flavours. He has been with Cactus Club for the past 3 years and within that he has spent 1-1/2 years in the development kitchen and 1-1/2 years previously in operations. Prior to joining Cactus Club he spent 5 years as the Executive Chef of Sonora Resort.

Which was your favourite challenge? — both quick fire & the elimination challenge

The 2nd episode “The Form” it was my favourite elimination challenge, I got a taste of home with the quality of the ‘local’ foods available to us.

My favourite quick fire was “The Auction” and it was fun auctioning and out bidding people. Managing your money was really important.

Which was your least favourite challenge ?

“The Pizza” where we had to make a pizza, freeze it, then bake it from frozen. As a chef it didn’t make sense for me to freeze this beautiful product first.

Ravioli + Prawn Trio

Tuna Sushi Cones

I had the Ravioli + Prawn Trio – artisan made butternut squash and mascarpone ravioli, truffle butter sauce, jumbo prawns; and Matt had Tuna Sushi Cones to start.

Which competitor were you most worried about and why?

Jonathan Goodyear – I thought he had a pretty strong background with who he worked for previously.

Which dish do you regret the most?

The Pizza – I regret not listening to the requirements of the challenge. I had to make the dough at home first, then took 20 minutes to prep the pizzas and 4-5 minutes to make them.

How can we get more local, sustainable products into large chain restaurants?

Dialogue is important to have between the restaurants, suppliers and farmers. The farmers need to go to the restaurants directly. A farm would have to be able to be big enough to supply our 23 restaurants here at Cactus Club for example. It is important to keep in mind consistency, growing season, size of products and the sugar level of products. For seasonal produce, we at Cactus Club source or have products grown for us as local as possible.

Where did you do your Audition video for Top Chef Canada?

I was fortunate to do it at Hazelmere Farms.

What are the Top 3 Things you have learned after the Top Chef Canada show experience?

1)    Learned about myself and taking criticism

2)    Time Management – working efficiently being able to flag the menu in your head to know the timing.

3)    Thing on your feet and adapt as lots of challenges were off site taking in the elements that can get in your way. Be able to fix the stakes, being creative on your feet, deviating from your plan if you have too.

Thai Red Curry Pacific Lingcod

Matt and I each had the Thai Red Curry Pacific Lingcod – seared ocean wise™ pacific lingcod, thai red curry sauce, coconut almond rice, crispy wontons, micro cilantro.

What was the process like for applying to be on Top Chef Canada?

  • I got an application and submitted it along with a 5 minute video.
  • Then there was a phone interview
  • 30 minute cooking interview

They selected 16 people to be on the show from a couple hundred submissions.

How did you get time off work to film the Top Chef Canada show?

I had to keep this all a secret when I went on the show in Toronto, I had to tell everyone that I went on vacation. I wasn’t allowed to leave the hotel in Toronto and was monitored at all times. I had no wallet, no tv and even missed my sisters wedding.

What are your plans for the future?

My goal is to stay with Cactus Club Restaurants and to one day open my own restaurant.

You can follow Chef Matt Stowe on Twitter @ChefMattStowe

By: Richard Wolak