Sooke’s own competes on Top Chef Canada

Carl Heinrich is wowing the judges and showing his passion for cooking

Passion for cooking came early to Carl Heinrich

Pirjo Raits

Sooke News Mirror

When Carl Heinrich was 12 years old his single mother, who had a debilitating condition limiting the use of her hands, got the three kids to cook two meals a week each. At Edward Milne Community School he enrolled in the Culinary Arts program and at 17 he enrolled in the prestigious Stratford Chef School in Ontario and by 18 he was cooking in New York.

Back in 2003, when Heinrich was still in high school, he said, “I’m going to become a chef,” and that is exactly what he did. He has always credited those who supported his early ambitions, including Chefs Edward Tuson and Pia Carroll  both of whom previously worked at the Sooke Harbour House. Carroll is currently one of the chefs for EMCS’ Culinary Arts program.

Now, 26, Heinrich is one of the competitor chefs on Top Chef Canada, a weekly television show airing on MOnday nights on the Food Channel. If he wins he will take home $100,000 and a $30,000 kitchen.

Not bad for a small town kid from Sooke.

We last talked to Carl in 2007 when he first got to New York and was working for Daniel Boulud’s at DB Bistro Moderne.

We talked to Carl last week via email.

 

Q: The last time we heard of you, you were in New York. I understand you are now in Toronto. Why did you leave New York?

 

CH: I left NYC in 2008.  Daniel Boulud was opening in Vancouver and it gave me the opportunity to take a promotion, help open his new restaurant and move closer to family.  If I were to stay in NYC I would have had to do another three-year visa, which didn’t interest me at the time.

 

Q: Where are you working now?

 

CH: My full time job right now is finding a restaurant to buy and run as chef/owner. So, I guess I’m not working anywhere but I’ll let you know when I find the right spot!

 

How did you get on Top Chef Canada?

 

CH: How? I applied and sent in an audition video. I was one of their picks. It was a very straightforward process.

 

Q: What has the competition/show been like so far?

 

CH: I think they did a fantastic job producing and editing the show. Very fast-paced, lots of action, good challenges, and most of all the calibre of cuisine have been high so far. Because it was shot last year it has been very exciting anticipating what the end result would look like and how each competitor would be portrayed.  It’s nice to finally watch it and it’s hard to wait for Monday nights!

 

Q: What is the hardest dish you have had to make and why?

 

CH: That first elimination challenge was a tough one.  We didn’t have a lot of time and everybody was just scrambling around. New kitchen and we didn’t know where anything was… the pots were here but the stove was over there and oven over there and the fridges this way… where’s the salt?  where’s the oil? …and the clock is ticking faster by the minute. I was late getting to the fridge and ended up with quail-a fun protein but certainly not my first choice for a dish that represents my home town! In the end I was just glad to make it through that first round.

 

Q: What would you like to impress the judges with?

 

CH: I would like to just put together good plates every day. The best plate will always win and the worst plate will always loose. In the end I don’t mind not winning, I just don’t want to end up on the bottom. I guess what I’d like to impress the judges with is consistent high quality food.

 

Q: Who is your favourite colleague/co-competitor?

 

CH: We all get along very well. Some of us know each other or have heard of one another. My roommate is Curtis and he is just a great guy, talented too. Kunal was great, Jonny was great, Trista was great, Dave was great, Trevor was great. They were all good people.

 

Q: Have you learned anything from the show?

 

CH: Hmmm. Big risk equals big reward. If you want to succeed sometimes you have to risk losing it all.

 

Q: What would you do if you won?

 

CH: Oh, I don’t know. I’d probably dump a lot into RRSPs to save some cash and maybe take a little vacation… I’ve never been anywhere tropical and Julia, my girlfriend, and I are long overdue.

 

Q: Do you miss Sooke and the West Coast at all?

 

CH: All the time. My parents still live on Sooke River Road and I just never make enough time to be there. I left Sooke in 2003 just after graduating from EMCS and only visit once or twice a year. Toronto is my home now and I love it here, but I would always consider moving back to the West Coast.

 

Q: What would you like to tell those who may know you in Sooke?

 

CH: Top Chef airs on Mondays at 7 p.m. and if you miss it you can watch full episodes on line through Food Network’s website (www.topchefcanada.ca).

My parents also have a viewing party at the Victoria Executive Centre every week.  It’s a great show and a ton of fun to watch.

For those of you wanting to be a competitor on the next season: go for it! It’s a pleasure to represent Sooke, hope I do you proud.