Now that you've heard the news about Top Chef Canada's second season, you're probably wondering the same thing we are -- just who are these chefs?
The contestants come from across Canada, representing almost every food background imaginable. Well, except for the East Coast, which will be sorely missed after Todd Perrin's inventiveness last year. Here's what the Huffington Post Canada found out about these 16 chefs who will be competing on Food Network Canada starting March 12.
Chef: Joel Aubie, 27, of Tofino, BC (originally from Bathurst, NB)
Aubie currently works as the head chef at Shelter restaurant in Tofino, having worked his way up since its opening in 2007. As a restaurant on the edge of the coast's famous beach, he focuses on seafood, with an emphasis on local and organic ingredients. He might just find it a challenge cooking from Loblaws' shelves during the competition.
Chef: Trevor Bird, 28, of Vancouver, BC (originally from Montreal, QC)
The only Vancouverite in the competition, Bird got his feet wet at Truffert and Restaurant Garcon in Montreal, as well as Market at Shangri-La Hotel and Daniel Boulud's now-shuttered Lumiere in Vancouver. According to Straight.com, he currently runs a catering company called Trevor Bird Cooking, and is in the process of opening a restaurant. Kind of like last year's winner Dale MacKay (who also worked with Boulud) did right after the show ended?
Chef: David Chrystian, 37, Toronto, ON
A well-known fixture in the Toronto food scene, Chrystian has worked at the hottest spots across the city (Cafe Societa, Accolade) -- and managed to get out before they closed down. Now the executive chef at Victor in Hotel Le Germain, he's known for sprawling tasting menus, which could prove tough to break in a Quickfire.
Chef: Gabriell Cruz, 25, Dundas, ON (originally from Hamilton, ON)
The sous chef at Quartrefoil, one of EnRoute's best restaurants of 2010, Cruz says his focus lies with local, sustainable ingredients. Most surprising? He claims his strong suit is pastry and desserts -- no sweet stuff slip-ups for him.
Chef: Ryan Gallagher, 33, Toronto, ON
Not to be confused with chef Ryan Gallagher of Greensquare Tavern in New York, this Torontonian is currently sous chef at Lynn Crawford's Ruby Watchco. According to TorontoLife.com, Gallagher's worked as an insurance broker, a personal chef to the Thompson family, and trained with Crawford at the Four Seasons.
WATCH: Check out the audition reels from all the contestants. Story continues below:
Chef: Kunal Ghose, 39, Victoria, BC
Ghose, the season's oldest contestant, is the owner of Red Fish Blue Fish, a fully sustainable seafood restaurant that uses only Ocean Wise products and compostable containers. The creator of the "tacone," a Mexican Japanese hybrid handroll, Ghose seems pretty confident mixing together whatever gets thrown at him -- we can't wait to see where that leads on the show.
Chef: Carl Heinrich, 26, Toronto, ON (originally from Sooke, BC)
The current executive chef of Marben, Heinrich has a serious pedigree, including stints at Sooke Harbour House in Victoria, Gramercy Tavern and Daniel in New York and Alain Ducasse's Le Louis XV in Monaco. He's gained a reputation as a wunderkind in the city, so it'll be interesting to see him up against an older crew.
Chef: Jonathan Korecki, 27, Ottawa, ON (originally from Caledon, ON)
Korecki has already been the subject of much attention in adopted hometown Ottawa, so he'll have no trouble getting used to the spotlight on Top Chef. A chef at Sidedoor, one of Ottawa's top spots, Korecki has smartly stuck close to mentor Matthew Carmichael, who he accompanied to Gold Medal Plates as a sous in 2010.
Chef: Xavier Lacaze, 30, Calgary, AB (originally from Auch, France)
The lone Calgary contender, Lacaze comes from a role as executive chef at Muse. His French-inspired food stems from his upbringing, though word on the street has it that his Calgarian wife has convinced him of the joys of great Western beef.
Chef: Curtis Luk, 28, Ottawa, ON (originally from Markham, ON)
This sous chef at Ottawa's Courtyard restaurant is known to be a master of the grill -- and he isn't afraid to air his opinions via Twitter either. We look forward to some of that feistiness on the show.
Chef: Sergio Mattoscio, 30, Montreal, QC
The only competitor from Montreal (Bird's birthplace notwithstanding), Mattoscio owns currently-under-renovation Macaroni Bar and is a known entity in the food-loving city. One of Mattoscio's best-loved dishes is a gnocchi poutine -- here's hoping he gets a chance to whip that up for McEwan.
Chef: Elizabeth Rivasplata, 31, Toronto, ON (originally from Lima, Peru)
Working at the Art Gallery of Ontario for both Frank and the cafe inside, Rivasplata is likely used to a high-pressure environment (or at least, picky customers). We're excited about the prospect of some amazing ceviche recipes when the inevitable "cook like your mama" challenge comes up.
Chef: Trista Sheen, 29, Toronto, ON
Sheen is fully ensconced in the food world -- her father was a baker, she's married to Nick Liu, of Niagara Street Cafe, and she's trained with some of the best in the world, including Heston Blumenthal, Keith Froggett and Eric Chaveaux. Her current role as sous chef at Crush Wine Bar has given her the opportunity to get know to know plenty of others in Toronto's food scene, like season one's Dustin Gallagher and Steve Gonzalez.
Chef: Jimmy Stewart, 23, Whistler, BC (original from North Vancouver, BC)
Working at a restaurant known for its sabering has got to make a man confident in the kitchen. Representing the up-and-coming food region of Whistler -- its own entity separate from Vancouver -- Stewart is sous chef at Bearfoot Bistro, a place known for its gourmet food and hoot-and-holler kind of attitude. Should make him a fun guy to be around at the very least.
Chef: William Thompson, 30, Caledonia, ON
What can jacuzzis and hot rock treatments teach you about cooking? If Thompson, the sous chef from Ste. Anne's Spa, has anything to say about it, probably a whole lot. His audition tape gives a veritable biography of his skills and interests, with a decidedly un-Zenlike proclamation: "I'm going to win, and I'm going to build the best restaurant this country's ever seen."
Chef: Sarah Tsai, 30, Toronto, ON (originally from Taipei, Taiwan)
This diminutive entremetier from the Toronto Lawn Tennis Club is used to forging a path for herself -- she came to Canada on her own at the age of 15, barely speaking English and staying with a homestay family. Can that kind of independence help her out in Top Chef? We're pretty sure it can.