Food & Drink, Profiles

The Candid Chef: Sean McKay

The chef life. Slinging plates, doing prep, and yelling “behind,” every third sentence. In the last few years, pop culture has convinced us the people who make food, and make it well, have reached rock star status.

Besides the fact that these people make food, and work long hours, how much do we really get to know chefs? I’m not talking about the Gordon Ramsey type chefs. I’m talking about the bunch with custom aprons and the business experience to run a top-notch restaurant, or pop-up culinary extravaganza, without screaming at people (tattoos optional, but encouraged).

What do chefs eat after work? What do they listen to while they’re in the kitchen? What are they doing when they aren’t cooking?

The Candid Chef, a five episode web series created by Raegan Hedley, will answer these questions and many more. It all started when she began watching Munchies — VICE’S version of The Food Network on YouTube — combined with more tame shows like The Mind of a Chef.

“I felt like there was a void in local content that asked chef questions that went beyond ‘what’s your culinary philosophy?’” said Hedley.

The Candid Chef brings you in the kitchen with five chefs from Winnipeg, to hang out, cook, and talk about food, work and life. Each episode, a chef is interviewed while making a dish that has personal significance to him or her.

The food/restaurant culture in Winnipeg has blown up over the past few years, and The Candid Chef gives you a chance to get to know some of the personalities behind this movement. Hedley says the series is about getting to know professional chefs beyond the fact that they make great food, and own amazing restaurants.

“There are so many great stories behind the kitchen doors. Not just with the food, but with the people,” said Hedley. “I’m so glad a local organization like Peak of the Market stepped up and helped make this a reality.”


In episode one, Sean McKay, owner of The Mitchell Block Restaurant and Lounge, makes a Vietnamese-style noodle salad, a dish that’s close to his heart.

“When I was a student at Red River College doing culinary arts I was going to school during the day, working at night and at the end of the day I was bushed — I was done cooking for the day — and by my house there was a Vietnamese Restaurant,” said McKay. “I would pick one of these up, on the menu they had it as The #26. I would take that home, scarf it down, and that’s where it started.”

McKay says he now makes the dish for his staff at The Mitchell Block.

“We work together in the kitchen about 10 to 14 hours a day, and at the end of the day we are all just starving and [staff meals] a good way for everyone to get together and have dinner and talk about what happened in the restaurant and what’s happening outside the restaurant,” said McKay.

In addition to running a two-story restaurant, McKay also has a passion for woodworking. The majority of the wood in The Mitchell Block was scouted by McKay and refurbished by hand.

“It was when we were living in Belgium that I was working in a wood shop and really loving it and enjoying it, and at the same time I was helping out a buddy at a restaurant,” said McKay.

“I was woodworking for work, and cooking for fun, and when I moved back to Winnipeg I had to decide what I wanted to do for school…at that time my passion for cooking was taking over so I decided that was the way I was going to do it.”

This is episode one of five episodes from The Candid Chef. Check back in a few weeks to hear about episode two with Jon Hochman from Sherbrook Street Deli.


The Candid Chef is produced and hosted by Raegan Hedley, a Creative Communications student at Red River College, and a food writer ( You can find her on both Twitter and Instagram, @raegjules.

Check out for more information on the series. 

Twitter: @thecandidchef

Instagram: @thecandidchef

Facebook: The Candid Chef

YouTube: The Candid Chef