by Malcolm Jolley
For thirteen weeks this spring into summer summer Canadian chefs and foodies has their own game to watch: Top Chef Canada. And at the end of the run (which Food Network Canada claims as the most watched series in the channel’s history), Dale MacKay of Vancouver British Columbia held the title as the dominion’s tallest toque. But how’d he get there? Afflicted with dyslexia, MacKay was a teenage high school drop-out who got a job washing dishes at a fast-food joint. From there he managed to get in the door at Earl’s, the West Coast restaurant chain that’s renown for their staff training. But it was a chance viewing of Boiling Point, the documentary that chronicled Gordon Ramsay’s quest for three Michelin stars that propelled his career in fine dining. MacKay was transformed, saved his money and headed to London as soon as he could to show up at the chef’s back door. In the end he worked for Ramsay for six years, first in London, then Tokyo and New York. He became part of Ramsay’s opening team, landing in strange cities and working around the clock to create Michelin star experiences. In the video interview below, filmed over breakfast at host Mark McEwan’s Yorkville restaurant One, MacKay explains how his background and training, which also includes working for Rob Feenie and Daniel Boulud, prepared him for his Top Chef Canada triumph, how he kept his win a secret of nearly a year and what winning has meant for him and his career and what he intends to with it at his just opened restaurant, Ensemble.
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Malcolm Jolley is a founding editor of Good Food Revolution and Executive Director of Good Food Media, the non-profit organization that publishes GFR. Follow him at twitter.com/malcolmjolley. Photo: John Gundy. This video is made possible through the kind support of Fortessa Canada/Schott Zwiesel: casual elegance for everyday living.