Former Mount Uniacker Lauren Marshall is one of the 14 competitors vying for the title of Top Chef Canada. (Submitted photo)
Uniackers might see a familiar face if they tune in forthe upcoming season of Top Chef Canada.
Lauren Marshall, a Halifax resident originally from Mount Uniacke, will be pittedagainst 13 others hoping to earn the divine distinction of Canada’s top chef by the end of the popular reality television show debuting on Food Network Canada March 10.
Marshall, 27, is the only Nova Scotian fighting for the $100,000 grand prize — and bragging rights — awarded to the winner of Top Chef Canada. The chefs must prepare a series of dishes that delight Judges Chef Mark McEwan, L.A.-based restaurateur Shereen Arazm, celebrity guest critics and host/actress Lisa Ray.
A press released issued Feb. 3 to announce the return of Top Chef Canada says viewers can expect the most “extreme season ever.”
"Top Chef Canada has dominated as the network's top series since its debut and in the upcoming season we're taking the competition to the next level, delivering more high-octane challenges to push these chefs to the limit both mentally and physically," said Barb Williams, the senior vice president of content for Shaw Media, in a press release.
Before joining the cast of Top Chef Canada, Marshall earned a degree from the Culinary Institute of Canada and developed a worldly understanding of her craft while working in Nantucket, Belize and Australia.
In a phone interview, Marshall said the knowledge she has gained in her travels, and through working as a professional chef for about 10 years, certainly helped in the competition.
“It was a very intense time for all of us and it was a very exciting experience.”
The Avon View High School graduate, chef de cuisine at EnVie-A Vegan Kitchen, says she was anxious about having to cook under strict time constraints going into the competition.
“In the case of Top Chef Canada you don’t get that luxury of just going in a little bit early to get it done. You’re all starting at the same time and you have to finish at the same time, and if the food is not done then you’re not going to get judged on it.”
Marshall, a vegan chef with a background in classical French and Italian cuisine, says everyone in the competition comes armed with a unique style and skill set to work with.
“What surprised me, I guess, is the amount of talent that I was surrounded by.”
It was a dream-come-true scenario for the small town girl who spent many hours at her grandfather’s side, learning the tricks of her eventual trade from a cook who catered to the Royal Canadian Navy.
“Besides when I was five and I wanted to be a ballerina, there is not a time I can truly remember that I didn’t want to be a chef,” she said with a laugh.
She hopes other aspiring chefs growing up in rural communities watch the newest season of Top Chef Canada, and see that hard work and dedication can open many doors in life.
Marshall, a student at the Canadian School of Natural Nutrition, jokes that her career has come a long way since the days she was “deep frying French fries and making hotdogs” as a young teen.
Of course, she can’t reveal how she fared in the televised competition, that would spoil the fun, but she can say the experience will prove to be an interesting conversation piece in the culinary industry.
“It’s really a neat thing to put on the resume and someday when I open up my own restaurant, it will be pretty cool to talk about.”
The season premiere of the fourth season of Top Chef Canada will air on Food Network Canada at March 10 at 10 p.m.