Lauren Marshall: Halifax’s Top Chef
Halifax’s first cheftestant on Top Chef Canada is, of course, Chef Lauren Marshall. Sure you can find her at enVie, or maybe back in the day you saw her around Morris East, but you’ve gotta say: it’s pretty fun seeing her on Top Chef these days. I caught up with her to chat about her experience on the show.
As a huge fan of the series I always thought “Hey, I should really apply for this!” but as a chef who has never entered a food competition before there was always that voice in my head that let me brush any idea or thought of actually trying out for such a huge competition completely out of my head… until last June when Craig Finn of Chives and Three Doors Down sent an email to local chefs from across the Maritimes pushing us all to apply. After Craig sent that email there was a little voice buzzing in my head and I couldn’t get it out! I was still attending classes at the Canadian School of Natural Nutrition at the time and thought if Jen King, the manager of my school, let me reschedule my final exam I would make my audition tape and take a stab at the audition process. After a quick reply from Jen saying “Do it!” I thought there is nothing left to do: I stayed up all night brainstorming and the next day I filmed the audition tape with my auntie. It all happened very quickly and after an on camera interview in Montreal I was told I would be competing to be Canada’s next Top Chef.
Was this kind of experience something you had been looking for, or was it a spontaneous decision when the casting calls came out this year?
This experience was like no other. I mean, when do you ever get the chance to shut everything off and just cook? We were living and breathing this competition and nothing else mattered. It really became our only reality, which, when I think about it, is kind of scary, because I believe in balancing work with other joys in life. What surprised me the most is all the time it took to create something as big as the Top Chef Canada series. I think it is all part of the competition: the extremely long days and, even when you think it is all over (the day that is), the surprise element of ‘anything can happen, anytime, anyplace’ would pop out of nowhere! The word ‘relax’ did not exist, and even if there was time to relax, we couldn’t because there was the anticipation and anxiety of what are they were going to throw at us next!
I loved the theme Battle of the Sexes. When I found out I thought “finally, an even representation of men and women.” Nowadays us women are killing kitchens and populating cooking schools all across Canada and we don’t see it as much of a barrier as women have in the past. In this competition the prize sees no gender, and in real life a great chef is a great chef. As a professional chef I believe we are recognized for our talent and hard work and not so much what gender category we fall under.
I have created bonds with some of my fellow chefs from the season that I will have for a lifetime. I am forever grateful for this once-in-a-lifetime experience and all I have taken from it. I predict many fun cooking showcases with them in the future. Whether we butt heads or not, you will just have to watch Top Chef to find out!
Ok. Sure, it was fun. But it was so much more than that. It’s one if those bucket list things, like how most of us would like to see the wonders if the world before we die. I was able to be categorized in a very small group of talented chefs who competed in a unique competition that will only be truly understood by those who have shared the same experience of competing in this mind blowing culinary competition.