Toronto chef Marc Thuet has taken the second season of his reality TV show, Conviction Kitchen, to Vancouver. He has three weeks to train ex-cons with no culinary experience before opening a high-end restaurant. The show, which airs on Citytv, is filming at Delilah’s Conviction on Denman Street.
What were the biggest challenges you ran across last season?
Definitely keeping everyone sober and on time for work.
How has filming and production this year been different from last year?
Our staff doesn’t want to work long hours in the kitchen. This week’s challenge is about the front of house making more money than the kitchen staff. When you work in a kitchen it’s not about the money. It’s about the food and your passion for cooking it.
How, if at all, is working with and training ex-criminals different than working with and training with regular Joes?
Last season we doubled up the staff so there were just as many pros as trainees. This year it’s very different. It’s just (me) and three trainees in the kitchen so we are super short-staffed. Biana — my wife and business partner — is working for three people, which equals hell on some nights. General knowledge of the food industry and serving is low, too, among the trainees so we’re literally training from the ground up.
Last season there was some controversy surrounding the fact that Conviction charged high-end prices for meals prepared by inexperienced chefs. Were the complaints justified and will it be any different at Delilah’s?
This is first I heard of that rumour. I cook everything and plate all the meals we serve so what you see is made with my hands. The trainees are there to learn from me and help me with preparation. In fact, last year our labour costs went up 40 per cent because we doubled up with pros and trainees … It is me in the kitchen, these are my recipes and if you dine at Conviction Restaurant I assure you I will be in the kitchen preparing it — with help.
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