In terms of both geography and cultural backgrounds, the idea of diversity is something we discuss a lot at Eat North HQ when it comes to Food Network Canada's most popular competition series Top Chef Canada.
Like many things in the food world, the 10-season (and counting) series first struggled to offer a fair balance of male and female (and, more recently, nonbinary) competitors. Year by year it has improved its spectrum of competitors and in Season 4 (2014), Rich Francis became the first Indigenous chef to appear in the cast.
Other shows like Firemasters and Wall of Chefs have readily incorporated Indigenous chefs like Jenni Lessard, Shane Chartrand and Christ Bruneau-Guenther on their judging panels. Bruneau-Guenther has also appeared on Top Chef Canada as a guest judge.
To date, over 100 chefs have competed on Top Chef Canada but only 4 are Indigenous. We are hoping this number will continue to improve over time, but for now, get to know (and celebrate) these TCC alum.
Tawyna Brant (Season 10)
A proud Indigenous female food entrepreneur (one of just a handful in Canada), she owns YawÉkonFoods, a small eatery in Ohsweken. The chef is aiming to showcase her Haudenosaunee-fusion cuisine and robust knowledge of Indigenous ingredients with her time on the popular series as well as through her own personal blog.
Stephane Levac (Season 9)
What he's up to now: Head chef of Maritime Express Cider Co.
Of any chef that has stepped into the Top Chef Canada kitchen, East Coast chef Stephane Levac has arguably had one of the most interesting culinary trajectories. At the time when his season first aired, Levac had gone from being a private chef to “the bagel guy” at his local farmers’ market, to the executive chef of Kentville’s award-winning Maritime Express Cider Co.
In the time since, in addition to featuring in food-focused events like Devour! The Food Film Fest, chef Levac recently rejoined the Maritime Express Cider Co. team where he continues to showcase imaginative Indigenous-inspired eats that highlight both his cultural roots and the seasonal bounty of his region.
Siobhan Detkavich (Season 9)
What she's up to now: Chef de partie at Mission Hill Family Estate. Host of new series Dine Your Sign.
Well before she made history as both the first Indigenous woman and the youngest chef to compete on Top Chef Canada, Kelowna chef Siobhan Detkavich had already made a name for herself on the West Coast as a fierce culinary competitor with top placings in competitions like the Skills Canada National Competition and the Gold Metal Plates.
Although her run on TCC was brief, the talented Mission Hill Family Estate chef de partie quickly became a bona fide food TV personality and has been using her expanded platform to shine a light on Indigenous cuisine and inspire Indigenous youth to follow their dreams. Detkavich currently hosts her own series on Gusto TV called Dine Your Sign.
Rich Francis (Season 4)
What he's up to now: Consulting chef and TV series host
Rich Francis has made the most of his Top 3 finish on Top Chef Canada Season 4 and has become one of the most sought-after Indigenous chefs in the country.
While the chef does not have his own brick-and-mortar establishment, you can often find him partaking in different cultural festivals and pop-up dinners across Canada. More recently, Francis has partnered with Sodexo Canada as the company's new Love of Food Ambassador.
He is also the host of Wild Game, a series that explores Indigenous ingredients and food traditions.