Well hello there, it’s nice to meet you!
I’m John. I’m guessing you must have seen me on CTV’s MasterChef Canada, and wanted to know a little more about the man behind the madness, right?
Well, I was born on Thursday, March 31st, 1983 in a hospital on the west end of Hong Kong Island. The first few years of my life, my parents and I lived in a small flat with the rest of my dad’s family on Whitty Street (屈地街) in the neighbourhood of Shek Tong Tsui (石塘咀). My dad’s family had always been surrounded by food — My grandfather (啊爺) had been a cook, and my grandma (啊嫲) had worked as a dim sum lady at a restaurant. You know, the ones pushing the carts, hollerin’ their payload of awesomeness? Yep, she was one of the best. My dad grew up in that kind of food environment, some of which has been passed on to me.
But as my Ah-Yeh and Ah-Mah aged and the children had children of their own, the family branched off. When I was two, I was sent to live with my grandmother (啊婆) in a flat in the Kowloon neighbourhood of Chuk Yuen (竹園). My grandfather (啊公) was a textiles engineer from Shanghai but worked out of country at a plant in Surakarta, Indonesia; so most of the time, it was just me, Ah-Poh and my great-grandma (啊太). But those years were probably the most formative years food-wise. That tiny kitchen cranked out THE BEST Shanghai-style bok-choy and pork wontons AND Guangdong-style shrimp wontons, amongst other dishes. Curious young minds wanted to know, but well…family secrets weren’t meant to be shared to little boys. Not yet, anyway.
So that was where it all started…the story scroll is only starting to unfurl.
To be continued…