Chef Rene Rodriguez Wins Top Chef Canada Season Four
It’s all over but the crying. Rene Rodriguez, of Ottawa’s popular Navarra restaurant, has taken the crown for ‘Top Chef Canada’ for Season Four, over finalist chefs Terry Salmond and Rich Francis.
Chef Rodriguez earned the bragging rights and the $100,000 Top Chef Canada prize in a stovetop battle that was heavy on dishes from the competing chefs' roots. For Rodriguez, whose father was from the Basque region of Spain and mother was Mexican, Latin influenced cooking took him to the finale and first over the finish line.
"I always bring some of my heritage, a Latin flair to my food," he told the Huffington Post Canada. "I think that gave me a bit of an edge, bringing something to the table that’s a little different and a little new. That gave me a bit of an advantage."
In addition to Chef Rodriguez’s Latin-influenced fare, season four featured an impressive diversity of culinary backgrounds, including vegan, Thai, and Aboriginal.
Toronto Chef Mark McEwan returned as a judge for Season four of Top Chef Canada. Looking back, Chef McEwan said: “It was very intense. We had some amazing cooking, we had some pretty lousy cooking. We had people that fell apart and we had people that rose up, that I never have imagined would… The way it ended, to me, was fantastic”.
Chef Rodriguez’s winning menu featured a steak tartare with blue corn tortillas, coriander-crusted tuna with mushroom ragout and pickled chayote, a roasted poblano pepper bisque, as well as a lamb shank black mole with mealworms, a choice the judges called "gutsy."
Dessert was a dark chocolate mousse with frozen lemon curd and fresh Ontario berries, which did not go over quite as well. But the meal in its totality was enough to take home the grand prize.
A big shout out to Chef Rodriguez and his fellow competitors from all of us at MRCA.