I’m 32 years old. I was born and raised in Kingston, Ontario, Canada, and live in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada. I’ve been in the industry for 15 years.

I grew up in my father’s restaurant. One of 4 of my grandparents’ Chinese restaurants and the place where my love for cooking began. It was also my first kitchen job. I learned a lot about working with my family and the business side of the operation during my time there. I’ve worked every position you can in a restaurant. I started washing dishes and peeling carrots when I was young, serving in the dining room, delivering takeout, and working the line alongside my father and uncle. Eventually, I went to work at other professional kitchens and fine dining restaurants, taking with me the work ethic I learned in my father’s family restaurant—an essential factor to my success in the industry.

During those early days, I remember one time when I was 18 when I was being taught to make ice cream, and I had no idea how to make it. The Chef verbally walked me through the process and asked me to add the mixture to the Bain Marie. I didn’t know the term, and I poured the mixture directly into the simmering water. Thankfully, he was forgiving and understanding.

You have to love it to want to be in this profession. It’s a career choice that’s driven by determination and endless hard work, and perhaps, it’s less rewarding than other careers, but what it does offer is infinite creativity and the excitement of having people be excited to enjoy your food. Being able to invoke joy and emotion and tell an entire story with a well-constructed and designed menu is one of the things I love. The competitiveness, the chance to constantly evolve, gaining inspiration from other Chefs, and the creative freedom are the things that keep me here. Still, there’s a lack of health care, real-life living wages, reasonable hours, actual holidays, and respect for mental health. All crucial things, I hope, won’t continue being overseen as it has up to now.