Chef Bites 2015 with Chef Elaine Wong

By Patricia Noonan

Name: Chef Elaine Wong

Where: Omni King Edward Hotel, Toronto

Describe your current food style: My style is simple food, done well, flavourfully and respectful of the ingredients. I like to do a modern twist on classics.

Training: I consider myself a home schooled cook by necessity, as both my parents were working and I had to prepare meals from a young age and then I went to George Brown College.

Places you have traveled to inform your culinary skills: France, Singapore especially for the street food stalls, Santa Fe, New York City, again, for the street food scene and both the east and west coast of Canada; also Oregon, where I began to get my coffee shipped from! Traveling has been very important to explore, search and be inspired.

Restaurants you've worked: From Arowhon Pines to numerous restaurants, from fine dining to pubs - just to hone my skills in all areas - then The King Edward Hotel.

Biggest culinary influence: My father, because growing up we didn’t have a lot but he could make something from nothing and to this day I still wait for shopping flyers, just like my dad did.

Fantasy meal: I love Japanese food so omakase, with the chef bringing whatever he wanted to surprise me. I would be by eating by myself, just content.

Favourite food/wine pairing: I don’t drink a lot, so I would have to say dim sum and jasmine tea, or fish and chips with a good English tea.

Junk food passion: It’s a toss-up between a burger and fries with lots of pickles or candy; any kind colourful candies, preferably chewy, like wine gums, gummie bears, jujubes…

Comfort food: A bowl of noodles or a bowl of congee because that brings warming childhood memories back. It’s simple; you just sit there with a bowl.

Fave Toronto resto: Old Yorke Fish + Chips, because you know what you’re going to get, they do it well and the halibut portions are for real. The fries are great and their key lime pie is not bad either.

Fave bar in Toronto: I prefer a gin and tonic on my Muskoka chair in the backyard.

Cookbook you cannot live without: I have a gazillion cookbooks for so many different things, but The Boston Cookbook my dad used is a favourite because I tried out recipes from that as a kid.

Most important tool in the kitchen: A spatula, because I’m constantly scraping out pots and it’s about cleaning things well, not wasting, and it’s also a potential discipline tool so look out!

What still excites you about the industry: I’ve been in the industry for more than thirty years and I have a tremendous amount of pride in what I do. There’s a constant feeling of wanting to do something better all the time. I’m always excited for challenges because every day is different and it’s so physical and I can what eat whatever I want more or less.

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