Master Dim Sum Chef at Ma Chinese Cuisine
Can you talk a bit about your background and why you became a chef ?
I was born in Guangdong, Guangzhou. I have worked in the kitchen over 30 years. My father works as a chef in China, and he taught me how to cook. Cooking is my true passion, I started cooking when I was 7 years old. I came to Canada in 1986 and have been a chef my entire life. I graduated from Guangdong Youdian University. In Canada I worked at the Hilton Hotel restaurant and Wutai Vegetarian Restaurant before landing the highly sought after position at Ma Chinese Cuisine as Master Dim Sum Chef.
What are some of the differences between working in a restaurant in China and working at a restaurant here in Niagara?
Restaurants in China only focus on Chinese food. Restaurants here in Niagara focus on the fusion of Chinese food and Western palettes.
Where were you trained, and what did your training involve?
I learned Dim Sum at Xingguang Restaurant in China Town. At the beginning, I spent a year practicing how to make a wrap for shrimp dumplings. Every day I learn something. It keeps my mind young.
What inspires you? How do you come up with new dishes for the restaurant?
I am inspired by discovering new ingredients and ways of cooking them. People change and so do their tastes.
Do you have a favourite ingredient to work with?
Vegetables and Seafood. Like tofu, okra and shrimp.
What would you say is one of the most challenging ingredients to work with?
Shrimp. Shrimp needs low temperature to keep it. The taste of the shrimp is based on the time and temperature you cook it. So, it is important to control them.
When it’s your day off, and you go out to eat, where do you like to go?
Shopping at the supermarket. Watching football, basketball, baseball and of course hockey. I like to visit different restaurants to try the food. Doesn’t matter if it’s Chinese food or Western food. I try everything, because I will find ideas.
What city in the world would you say has the best food?
Guangdong-Guangzhou and Hong Kong. Both places have diversified food.
If you weren’t a chef, what would you do for a living?
Maybe painting or playing guitar.
What excites you in the world of food these days?
Seasonal ingredients; I like to find new and different ways to cook with them.
How do you stay relevant in the culinary world?
I like to read Chinese food newspapers, read Niagara food newspapers or magazines. I find ideas from them and I am inspired. Sometimes I hang out with friends who are working in the same industry to talk about the news about cooking and Dim Sum.
How would you describe working in your kitchen?
When I work in the kitchen, I always come out with new ideas, then I will make them happen. I give much of the credit to Co-Founder Peter Li. He allows me the freedom to keep trying and supports my way of working. Also, I always make new Dim Sum off the menu to give out on the weekend. I ask for the customer’s feedback after they try it. I am looking forward to the newly founded “Chopstick Club” to create focus groups to try new menu items in the future.