During the pandemic, many people are forced to cook at home and cooking skills have improved greatly. Two young cooks from Markham recently shone in two national Canadian cooking shows.
Victor Chow is a Grade 6 student in York Region District School Board. He is an adventurous eater and cook who learned the basics of cooking from his dad. Chow discovered a passion for cooking at the age of six and had been passionate about cooking for his family ever since.
"Junior Chef Showdown" is a culinary competition series showcasing the extraordinary abilities of 10 young chefs between the ages of nine and 12. As of May 11, Chow is in the top seven.
In the program, he presented a lot of food with Asian characteristics, such as a Japanese burger and Foo Young Eggs. Chow said his inspiration come from his father and grandparents and, more importantly, from his Asian cultural background — as well as his love of trying new foods and experimenting with unique ingredients.
Chow’s family is very proud of his performance in the show. “Though my little sister always criticizes my food, they are actually very supportive. If my dishes satisfy my sister, it will satisfy the judge,” he said with a smile, “I just think of it as a pre-match preparation.”
The finalists meet in a winner-takes-all battle for the "Junior Chef Showdown" title and a cash prize of $25,000. The 11-year-old has not yet figured out whether he wants to be a professional chef in the future, but he has his own plans for the prize: part of it will be donated to the food bank, part of it will be donated to charity and the rest will be saved for his education.
"Junior Chef Showdown" airs Sundays at 9 p.m. on Food Network Canada.
Chow’s culinary role model, Christopher Siu, first showcased his culinary skills competing in season two of "MasterChef Canada" in 2015. This time, he returned to join "MasterChef Canada: Back To Win."
Like many Chinese parents, Siu's parents hope that he can have some professional skills and gain a foothold in society. This is why he chose to study to become a pharmacist at the University of Toronto, even though his dream is to have his own bakery.
After the end of the second season of "MasterChef," Siu worked as a full-time pharmacist to save up to support his dreams of owning a bakery. He then launched Daan Go in 2017, with innovative sweet creations inspired by his childhood memories and Hong Kong culture.
“All my cooking skills are self-taught. I love baking because I always remember the taste of the cheesecake that my father made for me when I was a child and the feeling of happiness. I want to have my own bakery shop to pass on the happiness to others,” Siu said.
To constantly enrich himself, learn new skills and prove that he is not only good at pastry, Siu opened a café offering brunch and lunch. “Being back on the show again, I want to show everyone what I have learned in the past few years.”
Also coming from a family of immigrants, Siu likes to add a lot of Chinese and Asian elements when cooking. His tira-meow-su is quite popular at Dann Go and his Cantonese-style dim sum was well received in the competition.
“I don't really have my signature dishes, I focus more on modifying recipes for everyone, and the pharmacy profession has given me a lot of help,” Siu added.
The finale episode of "MasterChef Canada: Back To Win" airs on Sunday, May 16, at 9 p.m. on CTV, and Siu is among the top three finalists. He is determined to win the title to expand into a baking studio to inspire the next generation of bakers and give back to his fiancée and parents for their endless support through it all.
Scarlett Liu, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Economist & Sun