Craig Wong In The Kitchen!

The celebrity chef talks about how cooking changed his life and shares a few of his favourite recipes that you can enjoy at home




Toronto Star


Kate: Who are some of your favourite celebrity clients that you have had the pleasure of cooking for? Craig: A few of my favourites are Usher, Simu Liu, Margot Robbie, Raekwon from Wu-Tang Clan, Sandra Oh, Michelle Yeoh, Dan Levy, Elliot Page, Cara Delevingne and Don McKellar. Kate: What got you interested in cooking? Craig: First and foremost, I’m a fan of food. I love eating. I got into cooking because I wanted to eat well and what better way than to prepare it yourself! Kate: What was the ‘aha’ moment for you that this was your calling? Craig: I went to seven different high schools. I was looking for purpose and headed in the wrong direction. The minute I started cooking, I knew I was focused and I started getting straight A’s in school. I had a purpose and a future. I was fortunate to train in Lyon, France at L’Institut Paul Bocuse and graduate with honours. I then decided I wanted to work in the best restaurants I could find. It led me to cook in France, the UK, Italy and Spain. Kate: How many restaurants do you have? Craig: I have three. Currently, I have two in Toronto: Patois, like Jamaica’s national language, is the merging of great food ideas from various cultures, executed with respect for the ingredients. Bar Mignonette offers a variety of seafood dishes and seasonal vegetables and has a focus on natural wines. My third restaurant is Ting Irie, Dubai’s first Jamaican restaurant. Kate: Dubai – how did that come to be? Craig: Every opportunity has happened for a reason. Before my Dubai partner and I joined forces, he came in to eat as a patron. He loved my approach to cooking. He searched globally for a partner who had my background, coupled with being a talented chef. The stars aligned. Kate: What is the meal of choice you like to cook at home for your family? Craig: My meal to cook for my family is breakfast. I can’t control my day but I can be in charge of the early morning. I like to get up early and cook for my children – Milo and Knox, two and three years old – and my wife, Ivy. We connect with our boys through food. Kate: What is their favourite meal that you make? Craig: Their fave right now is ox tongue: fried rice with romaine lettuce for crunchiness and sweetness with egg and soy sauce braised beef tongue. Kind of like a teriyaki. Kate: What is your favourite food memory? Craig: That is such a complex question. So many memories mix with nostalgia. Food plays a role in how we eat, taste and remember and it’s not always accurate. The memory that stands out for me may sound dark to some, but I see it as really beautiful. Ivy – by the way, she is my high school sweetheart – who I was not married to yet, was visiting me in Europe when her mom passed away. I was very close to her mom. There was this special dish she had always made for me, a crispy, soy sauce pork chop. Even though I was away for years, she still prepared it. When we returned home for the funeral, we discovered one crispy soy sauce pork chop in her fridge. We sat around the table as a family and ate it. I still remember the flavour, the ambience and all the thoughts that were going through my mind as we were sharing stories about her. That brought us all together. That was the time I knew that food goes really deep. I will never forget that.