Pictured above: NC alumnus Rory White was a contestant on Season Three of Top Chef Canada. Photo by Top Chef Canada.
It’s only been five years since Rory White graduated from Niagara College but he’s already become a household name for viewers of the Food Network’s popular TV series Top Chef Canada.
The 24-four-year-old was the youngest of 16 competitors vying for the title of Canada’s Top Chef on Season Three of the show which began airing in March. He appeared on the show for seven episodes until he was eliminated.
InsideNC caught up with White and asked him about his career his experience on TV and his time at NC. Here is what he had to say:
When did you attend NC?
September 2006 – April 2008
Name of program you took at NC?
Chef Training and Culinary Management
What drew you to the college?
The location and reputation. I’d heard that Niagara was one of the best culinary schools in the province and living beside a vineyard was pretty ideal.
How did you find your experience at NC?
My favourite memory was competing in the Brass Ring Rising Chefs challenge and winning first place with my team headed by chef Mark Picone.
How has your experience at NC helped you in your career?
My experience at Niagara College gave me confidence a strong foundation of the basics and fundamentals in cooking and great connections to the industry.
What led you to want to become a chef?
It was something I kind of stumbled into. I worked in a butcher shop during high school so had a small amount of experience there and I took a high school cooking class to see if my interest and curiosity would lead to something more. After that class I decided to do a co-op placement that led me to my first kitchen experience and it just clicked. This was what I wanted to do.
What have been the most prominent highlights of your career to date?
Competing on Top Chef Canada is definitely at the top of the list. I’ve also been lucky enough to work with some well-respected chefs in top kitchens at a relatively young age so that’s been great.
Do you have a particular style in the kitchen or specialties you are known for?
I don’t know if I have a particular style I’m known for but I can definitely say I really enjoy cooking what I catch myself after fishing or hunting. I also love making terrines pates sausages and other charcuterie.
What do you find most rewarding about being a chef?
I love seeing the transformation of ingredients from their raw form to a finished product. I love the thrill of service and working with great people. I love experimenting and creating new dishes and seeing a smile on someone’s face when they try something I’ve made.
What do you find the most challenging?
This job is a full commitment. The hours are long and can put a strain on your personal life.
How did the opportunity to be on Top Chef Canada come about?
I’ve been watching the show since it started and when my girlfriend saw the advertisement to apply for Season 3 she suggested I go for it. It’s always been something that I’ve wanted to do and now seemed like the right time for me to try out.
Why were you interested in being on the show?
I wanted the opportunity to push myself and compete against other talented chefs from across Canada. It’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.
How did you feel when you got the news that you were selected to be on the show?
I was really excited. I found out that I made the show right before dinner service and it was hard because I couldn’t tell anybody. But it was a huge rush nonetheless.
How did you find the experience?
You’ll have to watch to catch the highlights but I can tell you this: it was a great experience that I’ve taken a lot away from.
What did you find challenging about the experience?
The level of uncertainty was tough to handle. Having absolutely no idea what you are walking into every day is a strange feeling.
What did you find most rewarding about the experience?
Meeting other great chefs (and now friends) from across the country.
How has it impacted your life/career since appearing on the show?
The show has given me the chance to meet new people and cook in new environments.
What has the reaction been to your being on the show from family friends colleagues?
They have all been overwhelmingly supportive. I’ve been receiving dozens of phone calls Facebook messages and text messages of congratulations for weeks now. It’s been great.
What’s next for you in the future?
Moving into a position to run my own kitchen and from there who knows!
Any advice for our students who are following a similar career path?
Go in every day ready to learn. Take good notes. Don’t expect it to be easy but if it’s something you really want it will be rewarding.