Castanet sat down with the 21-year-old chef from Kelowna who is making history as the youngest and the first Indigenous woman to be featured on the upcoming season of Top Chef Canada.
Siobhan Detkavich is a demi chef de partie at Mission Hill Family Estate Winery who got involved in the culinary trade during high school — something she says she never expected.
“I just fell into it by chance. I moved from a city to a small town, hated it, I was 15 and our career counsellor came in one day and he’s like ‘hey, who wants to leave high school for a year?’” says Detkavich.
Her counsellor informed her of an opportunity to receive free tuition for entering into a trade.
“Nothing really interested me, except for cooking. I’m like ‘okay, I can at least make more than dino nuggets and smiley fries,’” she laughs.
“I never intended on going to culinary school. I never actually had an interest in becoming a cook. I had everything planned out, I was going to go to med school.”
Despite this, she fell in love with cooking and seeing the passion other cooks had for their creations, so her culinary career started when she was just 16, and during her first year she entered roughly 13 competitions.
“I think starting so young and doing so many competitions at that age, doing events and just working with other chefs — it just really opened my eyes to what there was and I found my niche,” she says.
Detkavich has now been with Terrace Restaurant at Mission Hill Family Estate since 2019 and when Top Chef reached out to her through social media, she couldn’t believe it.
“The way that I looked at it was like you know, this is one hell of a competition that I would be getting myself into. This is one like no other I’ve ever done but it would be dumb to pass up an opportunity like this because you don’t know when necessarily its going to come again,” she explains.
“It gave me an opportunity to share a story that I hope to inspire not only the young apprentices, but especially the Indigenous youth.”
Detkavich has worked with Indigenous community members and chefs and she hopes to practice and learn more about Indigenous cooking.
“Because I’ve worked closely with the Osoyoos Indian Band, they’ve been more than generous showing me what their nation was brought up as. So I try to do a lot of West Coast meets Interior to showcase what each region has to offer. It’s still kind of a work in progress but I think it’s really important for people to understand we're such a hidden nation although we’re the nation of Canada and I think its incredible cause there’s so many stories to tell.
Detkavich will be featured on the ninth season of Top Chef Canada.
“Going onto the show, it was so nerve wracking because its like okay, I’m 21, my position in a restaurant is pretty much I’m a glorified line cook, everyone else is like ‘yeah I run this restaurant, I own this restaurant, I’ve been cooking for 10-15 plus years’ and I’m like ‘that’s over half my lifespan,’” Detkavich laughs.
“To have that accomplishment especially at this age, literally it’s a huge honour.”
Detkavich hopes her success story will inspire others to work hard no matter their circumstances.
“I was the kid that came from absolutely nothing. I came from a background where I went months at a time sometimes without water or power throughout high school so I’d wake up, go to the gym, brush my teeth at the gym or I’d shower and do laundry at my best friends house. Just different areas where its like okay, literally you had nothing to your name but if you take it and you want to work towards something, you put your head down. Anything is achievable.”
The season premiere of Top Chef Canada airs April 19 at 10 p.m. on Food Network Canada.