“I wanted to turn around and jersey him, and start feeding him right hands. He’s lucky we’re not on the ice somewhere and I don’t start pummeling him.”
Well, it’s safe to say Nelson’s most famous chef Jamie Hertz made an impression in Episode Two of Top Chef Canada.
The memorable line was muttered by Hertz’s fellow competitor Darryl Crumb, a Manitoba native and former professional hockey player in the notoriously nasty East Coast Hockey League. Only on a Canadian reality TV cooking show would hockey feature so prominently in the drama.
Who knows how long Hertz — who is the owner of Nelson’s Fusion Bistro on Baker Street — will last in this Food Channel hit, but Episode Two will likely be the one he is remembered for playing a main role in the unscripted script. Of the 15 contestants left, Hertz owned the main thread when it came to drama, standout lines and outcome.
Monday night’s show actually opened with Hertz in bed, waking up for a day of challenges and the fight to stay alive.
“I dodged a bullet [in Episode One] and I’m not going to dodge anymore bullets… it’s game on,” Hertz says in his private interview session.
Reality TV loves its foreshadowing.
The theme in Episode Two was cheese. Cheese from across Canada.
Hertz survived the morning quickfire challenge that required the chefs to make breakfast for the judges. A good thing because the outcome of the challenge was a surprise elimination that saw Clayton Beadle from Whistler sent packing with his knives.
The kitchen really started heating up when the contestants drew knives to choose partners for the elimination challenge. Hertz drew Crumb and with dramatic music playing in the background, it was clear the producers knew something we didn’t.
A lot of reality TV is what you don’t see. These people live together and work together way more than can be packed into an hour. There are plotlines that develop which producers are unable to fully fit in during the 60-minute episodes. So sometimes the height of personality clash dramas seem to come out of nowhere. But you have to assume the tension was building off camera well before they hit the air.
From the start of their “partnership” it was clear Hertz and Crumb are not Top Chef buddies.
The theme of the elimination challenge was to prepare a dish that paints a picture of their colleagues using cheese.
When Hertz and Crumb joined the others to shop for their ingredients, the later informed Canada that he was going to make a bacon and blue cheese risotto because Hertz is known as “the stinker” in the house. In other words, the pride of Nelson’s culinary community is famous for farting. Nice.
Hertz chose to make flank steak with chanterelle mushroom and bothwell truffle and an asparagus spear. When top judge Mark McEwen did rounds while the chef contestants were preparing their dishes he told Hertz that his dish sounded “complicated.” To which Hertz replied “I don’t think so.”
While the contestants were preparing their final dishes in a tent outside a fancy Toronto cocktail party, the tension between Crumb and Hertz built. Crumb didn’t prove to be much of a partner, offering little help. Hertz revealed that he “felt abandoned” and in another much played-up line he said Crumb is thinking “if anyone is going down… it’s not going to be me.”
The dishes prepared by Hertz and Crumb were both panned by the random guests and the judges. The tension mounted even more.
When it came to decide who was going home, both Hertz and Crumb found themselves in the dreaded bottom-four. It was the second episode in a row Hertz faced the possibility of going home.
The judges were harsh on Hertz’s dish. They wondered where the cheese was and said his offering was “inappropriate for a cocktail situation.”
After ripping all of the bottom four, the judges asked if there was anything they had to say in defense. Hertz put up his hand and told the judges that Crumb abandoned him and the partnership was part of the reason for his failings. It was that outburst which caused the “pummeling” comment from Crumb in the private interviews.
In the end it was Calgarian Rebekah Pearse who was sent packing and Hertz dodged another bullet.
Bottom four or top four, Nelson is still rooting for Hertz. Now solidly established as one of the show’s main characters, we can only hope his fortunes in the kitchen improve and the plotline thickens.