Nicolas Mongeon may not have walked away from the Food Network Canada reality television show Wall of Chefs with the $10,000 cash prize, but he said he loved his experience on the show all the same.
The 23-year-old Sudbury native, who recently graduated from Laurentian University’s communications program, appeared on the Sept. 15 episode of the show.
“I didn’t win anything, but I feel like I gained so much experience,” said Mongeon, who has been working in Montreal doing marketing for a hot sauce start-up company since graduation. “I just had so much fun that I don’t even care.”
In Wall of Chefs, home cooks face off in culinary challenges to test their skill, judged by 12 of Canada’s most renowned and highly respected chefs.
Each episode features four home cooks who compete in themed rounds: round one is the crowd pleaser, round two is the chef’s fridge challenge and in round three the home cooks must create a restaurant-worthy dish.
The chef judges critique the dishes each round, but in the end only one cook will be left standing, claiming $10,000 and the respect of the Wall of Chefs.
Wall of Chefs is hosted by television personality Noah Cappe, and chefs on the wall include:
Hugh Acheson, Suzanne Barr, Victor Barry, Christa Bruneau-Guenther, Massimo Capra, Shane Chartrand, Alex Chen, Christine Cushing, Lynn Crawford, Meeru Dhalwala, Fisun Ercan, Rob Feenie, Michele Forgione, Marysol Foucault, Rob Gentile, Mandel Hitzer, Nick Hodge, Renée Lavallée, Jinhee Lee, Susur Lee, Nick Liu, Dale Mackay, Darren MacLean, Mark McEwan, Corinna Mozo, Todd Perrin, Christie Peters, Guy Rawlings, Nuit Regular, Danny Smiles, Alida Solomon, Jesse Vergen and Joël Watanabe.
Mongeon said he made scallops paired with the Mexican dish mole for the crowd-pleaser dish, and chicken drumsticks with wild mushrooms and a carrot and citrus purée for the restaurant-worthy dish.
He said he got some good comments from the chefs about his mole and scallops, but the chicken “was not my best effort, let’s be honest.
“I thought it was still pretty good,” Mongeon said. “I was still happy with it. I would eat it for sure.”
Food has been a passion for Mongeon for longer than he can remember. He said when he was four years old, his school lunches were a rather intricate affair, at his own request.
For example, he’d ask for Greek salad with feta and olives — not exactly what you’d expect to find in a kindergartener’s lunch.
By the time he was in high school, his love of cooking had progressed to the point where he was cooking himself a “pre-supper” when he got home from school, and then he’d also eat the supper his mom cooked for the family as well.
“My parents had a little trouble with it,” Mongeon said. “I would tend to make pretty big messes, and then they wouldn’t be happy about that. But overall, they’d really enjoy it when I cooked for them.”
These days, Mongeon said he enjoys cooking with vegetarian ingredients such as tofu and has recently started canning fermented foods such as sauerkraut, kimchi and pickles.
The Wall of Chefs taping was a year ago (in the pre-COVID days), but just aired this past Tuesday. Mongeon said all of his family and friends back home in Sudbury tuned in.
“I got to see their reactions after every round,” he said. “It was the funniest thing. It was like they were watching a sports game. That was the best part, was just seeing my friends and family and my girlfriend watching it, and kind of freaking out.
“It would have been so cool to have won, but it’s OK.”
New episodes of Wall of Chefs air Tuesdays at 10 p.m. ET/PT on Food Network Canada. You can check out the Sept. 15 episode of the show featuring Mongeon online here.