April 10, 2019
Pontiac residents should keep their eyes peeled during this season of Top Chef Canada, as the show will feature the culinary talents of Shawville native Renée Lavallée.
She is one of 11 chefs from across the country competing on the reality show’s seventh season, which premiered on April 1 on the Food Network. Contestants compete before a panel of celebrity judges in a series of challenges designed to push their cooking chops to the limit. To add to all that pressure, the stakes are raised with cash prizes and the threat of elimination from the show.
Lavallée has 25 years of experience in the restaurant business in several different countries. After leaving Shawville, she trained at George Brown College in Toronto and did a year-long apprenticeship in Italy. She spent some time working at Les Fougères in Chelsea as well as in the Caribbean.
“I moved around a lot in the past 25 years,” she said.
Lavallée currently resides in Dartmouth N.S. where she owns and operates two restaurants, The Canteen and Little C, with her husband, Doug Townsend. Prior to her TV appearance, she was already a recognizable name in the Canadian culinary world, having won the 2014 Gold Medal Plates competition with her lobster roll with snow crab.
She said when the Top Chef show runners contacted her through Instagram last summer, she had to consider the implications for both her family and her businesses.
“I had to leave the restaurant, so it was just a matter of trying to get everything organized, making sure my staff were organized and knew how to do it without me,” she said. “Luckily my husband’s also my business partner so he … and my amazing sous chef [were] here to
hold down the fort, so it all worked out well.”
The show was shot six months ago, so there was a limit to what Lavallée could divulge, but she said that she had no regrets about appearing on the show. She said that professional cooking is already a high-pressure environment without all the lights and production equipment.
“Here at work there’s no camera in my face, I don’t have people calling me up and telling me if they like it or don’t like it,” she said with a laugh. “It’s very different but you’re still under the same amount of stress. [It’s a] different stress. I had a great experience.”
The next episode of Top Chef Canada will air on April 15 at 10 p.m. The grand prize for this year’s competition is $100,000, a culinary tour of Italy for two and thousands of dollars in kitchen products.
* This article is available only to subscribers of the Premium or Online Edition memberships. *
If you have already subscribed please login using your email address and password. If not then please subscribe to the online edition using our Subscribe page.