Shepherd’s Pie Showdown: Chuck Hughes vs Derek Dammann

16 Oct

Our November issue just hit newsstands, and the theme is comfort food. To me, the most comforting of comfort food is shepherd’s pie, so I was beyond chuffed when Montreal chefs Chuck Hughes and Derek Dammann agreed to get out their knives for a shepherd’s pie showdown.

Chuck (left), Derek (right)


These guys may be teammates when it comes to hockey, but they’re highly competitive when it comes to cooking, and each came up with some pretty elaborate twists on the old meat and mashed potato classic.

Derek–who just partnered with his old boss and longtime pal Jamie Oliver to open Maison Publique in Montreal–made every carnivore’s fantasy dish. I spent a morning going from butcher to butcher across town to find the SIX types of meat I needed for testing, and a full afternoon to cook the elaborate dish. This is a shepherd’s pie in an actual pie, which is kind of cool–nothing like sopping up meaty juices with buttery pastry shards.

I took Derek’s pie to a party and shared it with twelve ravenous friends, and we still had enough left over to feed a band of cavemen  at the end. If you’re trying this at home for a smaller crowd, make smaller pies and freeze a few.

Derek’s last instruction calls for a round of fist pumps while bringing the dish to the table. You’ll be entitled to that after all your hard work–and maybe a sound and light show too.


I tested Chuck’s mutli-layered vegetarian pie the following week, along with his grandmother’s ridiculously delicious fruity ketchup on the side. I fed it to friends visiting from out of town, and they were all over it–even the kiddies, aged 3 and 5, were silent as they wolfed down their lentils, veggies and incredibly moist and garlicky spaghetti squash.

Goat cheese, as well as butter, in the mash made it super-creamy and rich. And wild mushrooms gave the dish the heartiness you crave from any shepherd’s pie. The sweet-and-tart ketchup had peaches, Granny Smith apples and juicy vine-ripened tomatoes in it, not to mention cinnamon and a dash of chili. I may end up making a few buckets of this stuff to eat with EVERYTHING this winter.


We’re inviting you to vote for your favourite dish in our shepherd’s pie showdown. Check out the recipes by clicking on the links above and let us know which is the most tantalizing to your tastebuds in the comments section below.

Just write CHUCK or DEREK to cast your vote.


7 Responses to “Shepherd’s Pie Showdown: Chuck Hughes vs Derek Dammann”

  1. Deborah October 16th, 2012 at 11:39 AM #

    Chuck, hands down.

  2. Misty-Lynn Caseley October 16th, 2012 at 11:58 AM #

    Derek Sorry Chuck but Shepherds Pie needs meat and i have made it with a pastry crust myself.

  3. J. smith October 24th, 2012 at 10:56 PM #

    chuck….my family are mostly veggie eaters, and this sounds wonderful.

  4. MARGARET ROSE SMALL October 31st, 2012 at 11:04 PM #


    • Valerie Howes November 1st, 2012 at 1:24 PM #

      Thanks, Margaret Rose. We really appreciate that. In print we’re introducing a new feature that consists of four extra mini recipe per issue, based on one great seasonal ingredient. Please look out for it from January 2013.

  5. Sisterevil July 19th, 2013 at 10:02 PM #

    I am going with Chucks receipe. Saw him make this yesterday morning and I am dying to make it. I have a hard time coming up with good vegie dishes and this seems like a winner!

    • Valerie Howes July 20th, 2013 at 4:10 PM #

      It’s a really interesting and tasty take on shepherd’s pie, Sisterevil. I hope you enjoy it.

Leave a Reply