Out slicing and dicing the competition, Barrie Elliot’s flare for creativity and passion for culinary creations gained her a spot in the Chopped Canada television series.
The local chef competed against three other eager Canadian chefs, and viewers across the country will have a chance to see her put her skills to the test at 7 p.m. on May 23.
“It was really exciting to be picked,” Elliot said of the opportunity. “I’ve been in the industry for 16 years so I wanted to prove to myself that I made the right choice in the industry and I was doing a good job.”
Her enthusiasm for the culinary scene began when she was just 16-years-old.
Elliot started her career washing dishes and preparing food for her parent’s restaurant in Nova Scotia.
Tossing the dish towel, Elliot’s career quickly grew as she started working at the Fairmont Chateau in Lake Louise, working in different areas of the kitchen to learn specialties like butchery and saucier.
After gaining some experience with these professional skills, Elliot moved to Vancouver to complete a culinary degree.
“Through my apprenticeship I received my Red Seal at Vancouver Community College,” said Elliot of her journey.
Working in Vancouver for six years, Elliot decided to expand her knowledge of the seafood industry, relocating to Australia.
“I travelled there and worked there and learned all about their seafood and their culture and their recipes,” she said. “I wanted to have really good seafood knowledge and butchery [knowledge].”
Before travelling to Europe to work under a chef unpaid in what is known as a ‘stage’, Elliot had another brief stint in British Columbia, working in both Fernie and Tofino.
It wasn’t until Elliot explored the food culture in Europe for a few months that she realized Fernie was her true home.
“When I came back from Europe, I wasn’t sure where my home was,” she admitted. “I came back to Fernie and I just fell in love with it all over again.”
After working as a chef at Island Lake Lodge for several years, Elliot landed the head chef position at The Livery Restaurant, assisting in the store opening and menu building.
Now as a professional chef, who many would consider to be a master in the culinary arts, Elliot has been working to grow Fernie’s culinary scene.
“There’s a high potency of awesome, talented chefs in town and I feel like we’re not concentrating enough and we haven’t really brought our wealth of knowledge together,” noted Elliot. “Fernie’s such a beautiful place and people should be coming here for the culinary scene and I really want to make sure that people know that something’s happening here.”
The Chopped Canada competitor brought her passion for cooking and her love for friendly competition to The Livery, hosting a culinary competition on the second Tuesday of each month. Once a month, local chefs gathered at the restaurant, prepared to dish out a meal made from three unique ingredients. After completing their dish, the competitors were critiqued by three judges, including Elliot, from around town. The judges then chose one winner, who selected the next competitors from the many talented chefs who regularly attend the event.
“If you’re in the culinary scene at all you’re up for nomination,” Elliot said of the friendly competition. “I’ve [also] had some thoughts about having some amateur nights as well.”
Despite the local competition’s heated, yet laid-back nature, The Livery’s cook-off is nothing in comparison to the cutthroat nature of Chopped Canada.
Elliot said that going against four competitors she was required to complete one appetizer in 20 minutes, one entrée in 30 minutes and one dessert dish in 30 minutes, with few ingredients available for use.
Without revealing the results, Elliot noted that three chefs are eliminated and one lucky and talented chef walks away with $10,000.
“I love the food network,” Elliot said. “It’s definitely bringing the celebrity status to chefs these days.”
As for Elliot’s time spent off the set, the local culinary star said she hopes to remain a part of the culinary scene’s growth in Fernie.