Tofino's Chef Paul Moran is the new Top Chef Canada winner. 

Through hard work and dedication, chef Paul Moran has made his dreams become a reality. Executive Chef Moran, of 1909 Kitchen, has always wanted to compete and win Top Chef since it’s creation in the United States 13 years ago. Now, after weeks of intense competitions, he can call himself a Top Chef Canada champion. In the show's finale, Moran took home the $100,000 prize after edging out another B.C. chef, Nightingale’s Phil Scarfone.

Coming off his winning season of Top Chef Canada, we had the opportunity to chat with Chef Moran about retirement, his hobbies, and the trials and tribulations of being on a reality cooking show.

(Photo: Hawksworth Communications)

Were you a fan of Top Chef Canada before your season?

Yeah, I’ve always been a fan of Top Chef Canada, and even before that when the American version had started I always wanted to get on there as soon as I saw the first season. I have actually applied to be on Top Chef France. I made it through the second round of casting there, but I didn’t make it on the show. So yeah, it’s been a dream for a while.

What’s the greatest piece of advice you received leading up to Top Chef Canada?

Not one thing that really sticks out, I think somebody told me before I to "just be you." I think somebody else on the show told me before the show to not worry about the cameras. Both pieces of advice were helpful.

Was it nerve racking? Were you able to watch all of the episodes?

It was enjoyable to watch them, I guess because I already knew the outcome. There were a few episodes that I stopped watching where I was in the bottom, or the way it had been edited—I didn’t come off the best. All in all, it was an enjoyable experience to watch. It was a lot of fun.

(Photo: Hawksworth Communications)

That leads me to my next question. What were your thoughts on how the episodes came together verses your experiences filming it? Was it a pretty accurate portrayal on what actually happened?

There is so much work that goes into each episode. Even though the parts that they do put on there actually happened, there is a lot that gets left out each episode. There definitely were some really good moments that I had that never made it on there. There were definitely some bad moments that I wished never made it on there that did. Overall, it’s pretty accurate.

How long were you actually filming or in the studio?

It was three and a half weeks to do the whole season. The days were very long and I was quite surprised at how much work goes into each day. It was cool to see how many hours the production crew put in. 

So what was it like cooking in front of cameras? Did have any effect on you?

No, just when I was running around the kitchen and smashing into the camera crew. 

Did you ever experience nerves throughout the show's competitions? Did you find competing in the challenges easier as you went along?

We had a little bit more time to get ready for the elimination challenges. I think I did better at that than the quick ones where you're literally finding about the challenges and going into them five minutes later—that was a little tougher for me. I definitely got nerves for the finale, the other ones were more fun.

What was your life like between competitions/episodes? Did you have much of a social life?

No, there’s no social life. They take away your phone—you're not allowed to communicate with anyone. There’s no phone in your hotel room…there were 14-15 hour-long days—it’s pretty intense. 

(Photo: Hawksworth Communications)

What did you find most challenging about competing on Top Chef Canada?

There were 20 different dishes that I had to do start to finish to just make it through the competitions—that’s a lot of amazing, award-winning dishes to pull out in a short period of time. The toughest part was making a great dish for every challenge.

What’s your main source of inspiration that keeps you motivated to continue being a chef?

Retirement.

Is that something you're planning to experience soon? How much longer do you imagine yourself doing this?

Honestly, there are so many things I like doing—snowboarding, mushroom picking, surfing, hunting. Cooking is great, but being a chef is a very tough job. My whole goal is to be able to have a place one day where I can cook for eight people a couple days a week, to have a semi-retirement thing—not have to cook for the masses anymore. I want to enjoy all the hobbies that I love—it’s tough to keep motivated for an entire career, especially with the long hours and all the ups and downs. Hopefully an early retirement will be available.

Do you see yourself staying in Tofino for the long run?

In the short-term I’m definitely committed to the culinary scene here in Tofino. Then we’ll see what happens after that.

What would be your one piece of advice for chefs wanting to apply and get on the show?

Make sure that you are good at making dessert.