From learning the basics to bringing the heat at Top Chef Canada
SAIT grad Alex Edmonson is the latest from SAIT's School of Hospitality and Tourism to compete on season 9 of Top Chef Canada.
What started as learning an essential skill sparked the desire to pursue a career in professional cooking for Personal Chef Alex Edmonson (Professional Cooking' 11). And more recently, to compete for the title of Canada's next Top Chef.
Joining the likes of SAIT alumnae Connie DeSousa (PCK' 00, DA '18) and Jinhee Lee (PCK' 09), Edmonson is the latest culinary graduate to pack up his knives and compete in the Food Network’s most prestigious culinary competition — Top Chef Canada (TCC).
What keeps that desire burning for the SAIT grad? We decided to find out.
When did you know you wanted to be a chef?
AE: I knew I wanted to be a chef about six months into the Professional Cooking (PCK) program at SAIT. Before applying, I never considered becoming a chef or knew I liked cooking. I had the intention originally of just learning a good life skill.
Who has inspired you through your career?
AE: Sean MacDonald is someone who has inspired me and continues to do so. He is also a PCK SAIT grad from a different graduating class. He owns ēst Restaurant in Toronto.
What do you love most about the work you do?
AE: The thing I love most about my work is cooking for people and seeing them genuinely enjoy the food. Seeing how much comfort or pleasure food can create is really satisfying.
What motivated you to compete on Top Chef Canada (TCC)?
I used to religiously watch Top Chef in culinary school. It was almost the only show I would watch back then. I also worked for Connie Desousa, owner of CHARCUT and charbar. She competed on Season 1 of Top Chef Canada, and I recall how it helped her career. After that, I knew it was something I wanted to take a shot at doing.
What has been most surprising about the competition, and how does it compare to working in a Michelin star restaurant?
AE: Top Chef Canada has been significantly more challenging than I was led to believe. I've been really surprised with how talented the entire cast is.
Competing on a food network competition and working in a Michelin restaurant share a strong similarity — the pressure! Both are incredibly high-pressure environments with super tight timeframes and require perfection. The two transfer over to each other, and it's been beneficial for training to work in both environments.
What has been the most memorable moment in your career?
AE: My most memorable moment was when I became Executive Chef for the first time. It was with MARKET. I was only 23 at the time, but I felt so incredibly blessed to get the opportunity so young.
What is the greatest lesson that you have learned through your career?
AE: The greatest lesson I've learned in my career is goals are important but never too important to sacrifice your physical and mental health to reach them. You can't perform at your best if you don't have the capacity and energy to do so. If you're burning out, know when to dial it back.
I miss my days at SAIT. All of the chef instructors at the School of Hospitality and Tourism have been important mentors for me. I'm grateful I went to culinary school first before entering the industry.
If you had to eat the same meal every day for the rest of your life, what would it be?
AE: I would probably be able to eat a rose sauce pasta dish for eternity.
What is your go-to meal when cooking for friends or family?
AE: My go-to meal when cooking for friends or family is Greek food. Souvlaki, tzatziki, lemon feta orzo and Greek salad.
When Edmonson isn't competing, he is a Personal Chef for hire with a focus on a fine dining experience in the comfort of your own home. Learn more about Alex's business and other alumni-owned businesses in the SAIT Alumni Business Directory.