Winner of the 3rd season of Food Network’s Top Chef Canada, 30-year-old Matthew Stowe started cooking at 15 and graduated from New York’s Culinary Institute of America in 2002. He became executive chef at Sonora Resort on the BC coast, and wrote a cookbook, The Tastes of Sonora Resort. He is currently a product development chef for Cactus Club Cafe, with 23 locations in Western Canada (and 25 planned by year-end).
By Matthew Stowe
Being a great chef is all about thinking on your feet, being creative and resourceful. It is exciting and nerve-racking at the same time, and it was a terrific experience to compete on Top Chef Canada and get to know and learn from chefs from all over the country.
I like to describe my cooking style as ‘refined Canadian cuisine with modern techniques’. There’s a wonderful diversity in our country thanks to all the ethnic influences. ‘Canadian cuisine’ uses great Canadian ingredients to begin with, and prepares them with modern techniques to achieve broad flavour profiles that can make the result more like fusion food. It’s just so invigorating.
It’s always flavour first, and cooking with the seasons is so very important. In the harvest months, that means corn, tomatoes, Brussels sprouts, kale, squash, beets and other root vegetables. There is no replacement for fresh, seasonal and local. It just makes for better results, guaranteed.
What excites me as a chef is being entrusted with people’s memories. They are trusting you to make a memorable meal for a special day, and exceptional food can become part of a lifelong memory.
4 winning tips from Canada’s Top Chef
- Cook with the seasons. “Canadian cuisine” works closely with the bounty of the land to create seasonal and local dishes.
- Make diversity work for you. Canada’s ethnic diversity provides fertile ground for chefs looking for inspiration.
- Make the most of modern techniques. Find ways to bring new interest to classic dishes.
- Think on your feet. Tap your resourcefulness and creativity to invent new dishes.