Chinese chefs and cooking competitions

Stephanie Yuen
With a Chinese cleaver in hand, Chef Mike Lee takes the centre stage.

Having worked in the food industry for quarter of a century, I’ve observed, participated and judged quite a few chefs competitions.  Interesting? They always are.  Inspiring? Definitely!  Fun? You bet!

            Just like the one I attended last month – CityTV Master Chefs Competition at Eat!FraserValley. The venue  – Tradex Exhibition Centre at Abbortsford – was nothing compared to BC Place or The Convention Centre downtown, but to my surprise, the layout, the atmosphere, the energy and the crowd’s response were so closed-knit, the rhythm was vibrant!

            While the chefs were busy getting nervous and taking turns to showcase their knifing skill and creative power, I had the chance to talk to a few in the audience and two Chinese chefs.  Sorry, didn’t get to taste the entries since no samplings were offered, so couldn’t be able to comment on any of them!

            A pair of sisters fromChilliwack: “These chefs can really cook! Look how good the platings are! Secret ingredients in a black box? 35 minutes time limit? We’ll be pacing around, jumping up and down not knowing where to start! Maybe we should go and take a few cooking lessons too! ”

            A lady with her boyfriend, while eating,“I brought so much, look, I need another bag! That’s why we have to sit down and take a break!  Wow, how cool is that to watch these professional chefs cook right in front of our eyes!”

            One older gentleman said to his son, “Where do they learn to cook like that! The food certainly looks pretty and yummy!”

            A couple young chaps were kind of disappointed, “Wouldn’t it be nice if we get to taste those deliciously looking dishes? Hey, we love to cook too! We should be one of the judges and have a chance to try the food!”

            Chef Mike Lee and Chef Sam Leung were the two competing Chinese chefs, not against each other, but aginst western chefs.  Both are members of BC Chefs Association and are currently cooking for two different Chinese seafood restaurants.  They were so composed and calm, they even joked a little bit before and after the competitions. To them, this was a great experience! “I’m happy just being part of the competition! Winning or not, not important!” They both agreed.

            I have waited a long time for this: Seeing Chinese chefs participating in main stream culinary events!  The bridge has been built; the gap has started to shrink. But most importantly, more and more ethnic chefs have taken a big stride – they have opened their kitchen doors to the others; ready and willing to step away from their comfort zones to embrace the world of culinary arts which should not be blocked by languages and ethnic backgrounds!

            Thanks to BC Chefs Association for reaching out to them, thanks to the organizer of Eat! Vancouver and Fraser Valleyfor setting up the competition, and to my friend Chef Clarence Ma, for making it a reality!  He’s the one in the background that has been working quietly but tenaciously as the chef ambassador to bring the Chinese chefs forward and leads them through into the welcoming hands of BC Chefs Association and even theCanadaChefs Association!

            I can foresee more and more chef meets to take place in Metro Vancouver – the famous food city in North American where ethnic cuisines are considered supreme, locally and globally; where chefs of all nationality and different culinary background share their ideas and plans to make the world a more delicious one!

Food and Fun Notes for October, 2011

Diva at the Met introduces The Powder Lunch

Diva’s new four-course Power Lunch menu changes twice weekly, offering a soup, appetizer, a choice of two main courses, plus dessert, all brought to the table at the same time, and for just $28.

“The Power Lunch offers guests the opportunity to entertain business clients over a full lunch without having to commit to a couple of hours out of the office,” says the Metropolitan Hotel Vancouver’s Executive Chef, Hamid Salimian. “Because the menu is changed at least a couple of times throughout the week, it allows us to make sure that we’re offering creative dishes that reflect what’s in season and currently inspiring us in the kitchen.”

The Power Lunch is available on weekdays from 11:30 am to 2:30 pm. All four of the menu’s components are arranged on one tray and brought to the table at the same time, eliminating any wait between courses. A sample menu would include roasted yam soup to start, an albacore tuna taco appetizer, pork cheek confit as a main course, and chocolate mousse layer cake for





Autumn is definitely here and with it the crunch of dried leaves underfoot and an appetite-inducing crispness in the air. InFrance, fall’s arrival signals the time when people seek comfort in heartier fare and earthy flavours. The countryside teems with hunters – for both game and mushrooms – two of the season’s most treasured ingredients.

At Bistro Pastis, owner John Blakeley and Executive Chef Tobias Grignon, have created a very tasty way to celebrate the season French-style with their Fall Flavour Fete. Starting October 1st and running for six weeks through to mid-November, Bistro Pastis’ Fall Flavour Fete will feature special three-course prix fixe menus highlighting traditional autumnal ingredients. Each menu is value-price at $45.

From October 1 through 16, mushroom mania hits Bistro Pastis. Fungi fanciers will delight in a menu that features favourites such as the ubiquitous porcini, rare pine and highly-prized truffle. Mushrooms abound in every course – including dessert where they can be found in Porcini Shortbread and Candied Chanterelles.

Wild Game takes centre stage from October 18 through 30 – look for the stronger flavours of pheasant and venison to make an appearance. Celebrate charcuterie from November 1 to 13 with dishes that include house-made sausage, lardons, and smoked bacon. Full menus will be posted on the restaurant’s web site just prior to their start.

Food as flavourful as this should be shared, so why not invite friends to join you in front of the fireplace at Bistro Pastis for a convivial evening of French-style autumn comfort.

Reservations are always a good idea and can be made by calling 604-731-5020 or on-line at or visit the restaurant at 2153 W. 4th Ave.,Vancouver.

Pacific Breeze Winery presents an evening of mystery intrigue

Murder Mystery Dinner and Show

Come dressed in your favourite costume and win a prize.

When: October 22

              6:00pm – Wine reception

              6:30pm – Buffet Dinner

Entertainment and show presented by The Grimm Reaper Theatrical Group

Tickets @ $55, $50 for club members

Reservation: 604-522-2228 or 


Art in the Barn at Campbell’s Gold Honey Farm & Meadery
October 29 – 30, from 10am – 4pm, be sure to check out Campbell’s Gold barn, which will feature a variety of artisan vendors, including pottery, painters, photography, jewellery, glass art, fibre art, art metal, woodcraft and much, much more. A great place to pick up the perfect Christmas gift.

Tanglebank Gardens
Create a beautiful fall planter for your front door or patio, put together a crazy hair pumpkin planter, participate in a candy toss or add a little colour to your winter garden; Tanglebank Gardens offers a variety of events for the whole family this fall.

Pumpkin Patch at Maan Farms
Pumpkins are ready at Maan farms! Growing 25 of the most popular varieties of pumpkins, and open from September 10th – October 31st with free admission, you’ll be sure to find the perfect pumpkin.

Fort Langley’s 15th Annual Cranberry Festival
Celebrate Fort Langley’s proud berry history, October 8 – 9 from 9am – 5pm. The fun starts with a pancake breakfast, continuing through the day with activities for the whole family: contests, live music, cooking demos, a fashion show, and over 80 vendors showcasing a marvelous selection of products.

Grave Tales at Fort Langley National Historic Site
From October 7-30, spine-chilling tales of love, mysterious burials and old-school amputations – Fort Langley’s past is depicted at night by expert storytellers, and will leave you spellbound as you weave through the village from the misty cemetery to the deserted Hudson’s Bay Company fort.

Grape Stomp & Harvest Party
Get your feet wet at Township 7 Vineyards’ annual grape stomp and fall release party this Halloween. Vendanges, La Vendemmia, la Vendimia! The Grape Harvest in all cultures signifies not just the picking of grapes but a cause for celebration. The bounty from a year’s worth of carefully tended vines will be harvested with extended families and friends gathering to celebrate, which culminates with a traditional harvest lunch. Festivities include a grape stomp competition; new fall releases; and live music.

Chilliwack Corn Maze
Challenge yourself to find the one true way through this unique 14-acre cornfield maze. Worried you’ll never be able to find your way out? The maze becomes an interactive experience with passports and challenges as you navigate your way out, or instead, enjoy the kiddy bale maze, pumpkin patch, animal viewing area, and u-pick apples.

Petey’s Pumpkin Patch
October 2-31, come visit one of the most amusing and picturesque pumpkin patches in the Valley. There is over 5,000 square feet of indoor activities for family fun, including a big concession with hot and cold food, a train or wagon ride, farm animals, and so much more!

Agassiz Harrison Mills
2011 Fraser Valley Bald Eagle Festival
There are many different stops over this two-day event (November 19-20th) that are both educational and entertaining. At the Kilby Historic Site see demonstrations on how to create your own winter container garden and presentations on attracting birds to your backyard.

Harvest Celebration at Limbert Mountain Farms
Want to try a unique U-Pick experience? Why not try Hazelnut picking inAgassiz. Hazelnuts are ready for picking in late September through October. Visitors to hazelnut farms can explore the orchards and pick their own hazelnuts from the trees or choose to buy them on site from the farm shops. Popular on their own or as a flavour in cooking, hazelnuts are the perfect winter treat (and ideal fall-time harvesting activity).
Kilby’s Annual Thanksgiving Celebration
Prepare to loosen that belt for Kilby Historic Site’s very popular, traditional Thanksgiving Dinner, October 9 & 10. Dinner includes roast turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, squash, brussel sprouts, homemade rolls, cranberry sauce and gravy, and a beverage with dessert. Indulge in all of the traditional fixings without preheating or dishwashing, for only $15.95 per adult. By reservation only.

Kilby Harvest Market – October 15 & 16
Enjoy sampling all the festivities of a 1920s country fair at Kilby Historic Site. See the wares of local crafters and producers, including First Nations art, canned goods and preserves, homemade fudge, as well as jewellery and crafts. Then visit the Harrison Mills Quilt Show, just up the road at the Community Hall. Call 604-796-5581 to reserve, or purchase at the door.

Kilby Kids Halloween Party: Harry Potter Theme        October 29 & 30
Wizards and Muggles alike are invited to Hogwarts for a fun-filled, magical time! Enter the site through gate 9 3/4, visit Diagon Alley, attend a potions class, and play a game of Quidditch. Admission is $8 for adults, $7 for youth, and free for children 5 and under; family admission is $24. The event runs 11am – 4pm, for more information call 604-796-9575, or visit


Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadows
Bruce’s Apple Festival
Many varieties of new and heritage apples grown in BC, apple pies and crisps, live local entertainment and sampling at Bruce’s Country Market on October 15th & 16th from 10am – 5pm.

Limbert Harvest Festival – October 8
A celebration of autumn delicacies such as chestnuts, walnuts, gourds, multiple varieties of squash, and everyone’s favourite, pumpkin pie. Limbert Mountain Farm will be dishing out an abundance of food samples, as well as sharing some of their favourite recipes to inspire delicious harvest creations. Guests can enjoy a harvest lunch in the Bistro from 12:00-4:00pm. Limbert Mountain Farm, 5493 Limbert Rd, Agassiz.  604-796-2619