On September 26, the Food Network’s cooking competition show Top Chef Canada is returning for Season 10—and this time it will be challenging the chefs to push the boundaries of their creativity in a vegan cooking competition.
Dubbed Top Chef Canada X, this monumental season features chefs from across the country, including the first-ever competitor hailing from the Yukon. In addition to the title of Canada’s Top Chef, the winner will earn the largest reward in Top Chef Canada history: a cash prize of $100,000, a luxury Lexus NX, a brand-new kitchen, an exclusive farm-to-table adventure, and a $10,000 cash prize.
This season promises to reflect on the past nine seasons of the competition series known for featuring the country’s best chefs and shining a light on the diverse cuisines Canada offers. In an Elimination Challenge, the chefs will be given an opportunity to showcase their skills by making a vegan feast featuring plant-based products from vegan cheese brand Violife and margarine brand Becel—both owned by parent company Upfield.
“We are delighted to have Violife in the spotlight, along with our Upfield sister brand, Becel, throughout this 10th season of Food Network Canada’s Top Chef Canada, including as part of a plant-based challenge, where professional chef competitors will get creative using our dairy-free products for a vegan feast,” Shoshana Price, Head of Marketing, Upfield Canada, tells VegNews. “The challenge is an engaging way to showcase to viewers how easily cheesy recipes can be made delicious and non-dairy with Violife. We can’t wait to see how daring the talented professional chefs will get as they incorporate our range of versatile flavors and formats to wow judges with winning taste, texture, and creativity.”
The winner with the best progressive tasting menu will be awarded a $5,000 prize courtesy of Becel and Violife.
Vegan cooking finally gets on mainstream shows
In recent years, veganism has begun permeating mainstream television, with a number of popular cooking competition shows helping to carve out space for this animal-friendly way of cooking and eating.
Earlier this year, the Food Network’s Beat Bobby Flay made history with its first vegan episode in which Tamearra Dyson (chef-owner of soul food restaurant Souley Vegan) and Adyre Mason (chef-owner of Alabama-based The Veggie) faced off for a chance to proclaim, “I beat Bobby Flay.”
After winning over the judges with her red potato and coconut milk étouffée in the first round of the competition against Mason, Dyson faced off against Flay in round two, where they each made a plant-based burger. Ultimately, Flay’s smokehouse vegan burgers (topped with dairy-free cheese and oatmilk onion rings) not only fell short of the win but very literally fell apart. It was Dyson’s seitan-based double decker burger, served with gooey cheese and fresh pickles, that officially made her the first vegan chef to win the show.
In July, celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay hosted the first vegan cooking challenge on Master Chef. During the show, Ramsay—who was previously a staunch critic of veganism and has been seen slowing warming up to the idea of not eating or cooking with animals—admitted that he secretly loves vegan food.
“After all these years, I can finally admit that I actually love vegan food,” Ramsay said on the show. Before the chef demonstrated his beet Wellington—a vegan twist on the traditional meat dish—he drove home his point one more time. “It’s taken me 20 years to get to this point,” he said.
While many contestants on the vegan episode executed high-concept dishes that you would expect to find in a fine-dining restaurant such as beet tartare, pumpkin arancini, and risotto with tofu scallops, it was Amanda Saab’s falafel recipe that took home the win. She won the challenge by whipping up falafel served with handmade pita, watermelon radish, micro-cilantro, tomato, and pickled red onions.
The Food Network’s first vegan cooking show
The Food Network has also finally released a fully vegan cooking show. Hosted by vegan celeb Tabitha Brown, It’s CompliPlated is built around the premise that cooking should be inclusive of everyone at the table.
As such, each episode features four chefs who are tasked with creating plant-based dishes for celebrity chef Maneet Chauhan and rotating guest judges who have various dietary restrictions. Some concepts featured on the series include a feast with Southern hospitality, gluten-free noodles, and an Instagram-worthy fruit-and-vegetable feast.
“Becoming vegan changed my life and the way I cook—and I know folks can relate to the daily challenge of making the whole family happy with one meal, so we decided to make a game of it,” Brown said in a statement. “These chefs cook from the heart and their food is mind-blowing—viewers are sure to have a blast and be inspired for their next family dinner.”