You all know how much I like recreating dishes I have encountered on my travels once I return, right? For me, it’s the best way to prolong a vacation. And food memories are the best type of souvenir to bring back, in the form of a cookbook, magazine or simply a photo with some scribbled notes on a napkin to remind you of ingredients and flavours for when you return home.
Because food and travel are such a huge part of my life (and this blog!), I was very keen to check out Culture.licious - a new cultural cooking school showcasing and teaching authentic home cooking right here in Toronto. Classes are taught by some of the best home cooks from various ethnic communities around Toronto (aka Master Cooks) – they hail from all over the world.
The brainchild of, and founded by, Wendy Chung, Culture.licious aims to preserve the art of home cooking and bring authentic ethnic cooking into your kitchen.
On a solo backpacking adventure through China, Tibet, Korea and Taiwan around the world, Taiwanese born, South African-raised Chung discovered that to truly immerse yourself in a country and its culture, it was vital to slow down, gather around the table and appreciate the nuances. In the Chinese town of Dali, Chung was invited into the Zhang family kitchen to share a meal at their table. “It was there that I gained a better understanding of the world. The experience also reminded me of my grandfather’s home cooking which was always a comfort to me. Combining the memories of my grandfather’s homemade cooking, and the connection I made with others while traveling, I created Culture.licious,” says Chung. It took 2 years to refine the idea and work up the courage to leave her corporate job. She adds, “I believe that by learning about and exploring a different culture, tradition and way of eating endows us with a valuable open-mindedness. That is the beauty of traveling – you connect with people who may further broaden your horizons.” Through Culture.licious, Chung hopes to bring a little of this to Toronto.
Culture.licious is also a social enterprise with a mission to empower immigrants to pursue their passion while earning a supplementary income. Their Master Cooks are ambassadors of their cultural heritage and take pride in what they are doing. Culture.licious offers cooking classes as well as private or corporate events.
Last week, a small group of us was invited for a “tasting menu” of what Culture.licious offers. Instead of the regular class format, where the entire menu is from one region, we worked through three different ethnic dishes – patacones fritos en salsa and a Pico de Gallo lettuce salad wrap from Panama by Lizka, a main of Vietnamese lemon grass pork and beef skewers with vermicelli noodles with Minh and a Balkan dessert of scratch-made apple strudel with ice cream by Aleksandra.
How did we do? Take a look…
Watching Aleks work the dough for the strudel was magical…
For a quick (clunky, as Vine tends to be) look at stretching the dough, check out my Vine video.
I don’t have any pictures of the spectacular rolling of the strudel but just let me tell you, there was a tablecloth involved (it’s not unlike rolling a jelly roll, only bigger and more fragile!)
Meanwhile, over in Minh’s kitchen….
And my attempt to recreate Minh’s pretty bowl….
And the pièce de résistance…
A whirlwind tour around the world, for sure, but a great taste of what Culture.licious has to offer. I know some younger chefs who might be taking a virtual trip through cooking sometime very soon too…
Disclosure: I attended the class at Culture.licious as a guest. All opinions are 100% my own.