“Food is the way I connect with others. I love cooking because of the feeling that you are feeding your loved ones.”
– Regina Lee, Chef/Owner of Gaia Kitchen
No matter our cultural background, food is something we all have in common. It is the vehicle through which we communicate sentiments, express our creativity and create memories. Sharing of food keeps us connected. Food connects us to the past, to our memories, and to our family. It connects us to the mysterious lands never visited. And it connects us to communities rich in agriculture and to our local farmers.
We asked four chefs to develop new recipes that showcase flavours and techniques from their own upbringings, and their global travels. The result is four new ways you can cook fresh, local poultry in your own kitchen that tie in flavours from around the world. We invite you to put your own spin on these soon-to-be classic dishes.
Regina Lee, Michael Varga, Stephanie Noel, and Mark Singson.
From fine dining to food trucks, our globe-trotting chefs demonstrate how you can combine flavours from around the world with your own family traditions, to share around the dinner table.
"It’s really important to buy local because you know what you’re getting. I love using Fraser Valley Specialty Poultry products because you know where the farm is, you can check out how responsible they are... but most importantly is that you’re getting it fresh.”
Chopped Canada Winner
“I like to use Fraser Valley Specialty Poultry because they have great ingredients and ingredients that aren’t readily available. Squab is such a delicacy and unique product. It’s amazing to be able to find it locally.”
“What I like about Fraser Valley Specialty Poultry, you know it’s fresh – you know it’s right there and that makes everything taste better.”
Top Chef Canada Runner Up
“I love being able to work with Fraser Valley Specialty Poultry. I just know where the chicken’s coming from and I can get it on the daily really fresh.”
Learn to cook international dishes with a local spin from BC’s master chefs
Four chefs bring their fusion of flavours from home and away that you can try in your own kitchen, sharing culture and community through the shared love of food.
Chef and wellness advocate Regina Lee loves to cook to nourish, and bake to delight. Born and raised in Singapore, she has lived in 10 countries in 20 years, connecting people through culinary traditions. She graduated from Pacific Institute of Culinary Arts with a dual diploma in Culinary Arts and Baking and Pastry Arts. Through cooking for global health retreats, producing online live cooking courses, and authoring the eBook Food Made Easy with Regina Lee, she shares her passion for food, connection, conversation, and fun. Her latest project is Gaia Kitchen, which specializes in ready-to-bake home meals.
“This is no ordinary Chinese soy sauce braised chicken. The cooking techniques and ingredients have been developed to optimize the characteristics of the intensely flavourful and robust but moist Loong Kong chicken. This dish can be cooked out of a saucepot, Dutch oven, or wok, and even with an electrical Instant Pot. In this dish, you will find a multi-layered depth of flavours that hit at your taste buds, combining umami, sour, sweet, salty, and a hint of heat all in one super bowl. Best served with freshly steamed Jasmine rice to soak up the moreish sauce. Great as leftovers for office or school lunch the next day or as a freezer make-ahead meal.”
– Regina Lee
Chopped Canada Winner
Foodie and firefighter Michael Varga earned his cooking chops by creating delicious budget-friendly meals for his crew at the firehall. His signature style combines traditions from his mother’s Egyptian heritage, fond memories of his nanna’s kitchen, and his admiration for his dad’s skill and passion in cooking. His only rule in creating one-of-a-kind fusion dishes is “do what you love.” After winning Chopped Canada’s Fired Up, a reality TV competition that featured Canadian firefighters competing for a $10,000 prize, he went on to become one of the final 12 contestants in season five of MasterChef Canada. Still an active firefighter with 14 years of experience, Michael also caters events and gives cooking lessons. He’s excited to see where this journey will take him as he puts his own spin on family cooking traditions.
“For the squab itself, I used what is called ras el hanout. Mine has about 19 different ingredients in it and it varies from region to region in Morocco. The flavors that I get from my mother coming from Egypt, spices and memories I have from my mother’s side of the family, mainly my nanna growing up and smelling her kitchen, and the way my dad taught me to cook, the way I would watch him, his technique, his approach, his passion for it. Putting the two together really inspires me.”
– Michael Varga
With a passion for travel, Stephanie Noel brings her love of farm-fresh ingredients, local cuisine, and regional cooking traditions wherever she goes – from rural Quebec, to France, to the west coast. After graduating from Montreal’s Institut de Tourisme et d’Hotellerie du Quebec, she moved to Vancouver to work at Water Restaurant in 2001. To learn more about French cooking and travel the world, she moved to southern France as a sous-chef at a Two Star Michelin Restaurant, La Reserve de Beaulieu. Returning to Canada, she became Executive Chef at The Outpost on Haida Gwaii in the summers, and at CMH K2 in the Kootenays in the winter. Currently, as Development Chef at Hawksworth Restaurant Group, Stephanie’s love of travel has come full circle as she assists with bringing contemporary Canadian cuisine to international travelers through their Air Canada partnership.
“What inspired me to make this dish is what’s currently in season. It is a classic combination to use stone fruit with duck. It can be a peach, nectarine, apricot. The raviolis in the dish use all parts of the bird: serve the breast for the dish, and the legs for the filling. I think it’s really important that you try to utilize the whole bird.”
– Stephanie Noel
Top Chef Canada Runner Up
As child in his mother’s restaurant, Mark Singson learned the hospitality industry first-hand. His family culinary traditions, and Mark’s love of eating, launched him into a passionate foodie career. At first working in several well-known Vancouver restaurants, such as the Fairmont Pacific and Oakwood, and hosting pop-up food events in Australia, Mark went on to reach fame when he won runner-up on Top Chef Canada, Season 6. Judges dubbed him a “magician” and “mad scientist” in the kitchen. After helping launch AnnaLena restaurant, he moved on to start his own business, FAM Inc. (food, art, and music). Mark builds unique pop-up events and private dining experiences that push the limits, and combine familiar flavours from his upbringing with brave new presentations – events that bring fun, food, and togetherness.
“Filipino cuisine is quite unique – with all the different cultures it really makes it stand out. Chicken Adobo, it will always be one of my favorite dishes. It’s acidic, it’s sweet, has a little bit of a kick from the black pepper. It’s quite neutral to be honest. The secret to good Adobo is time and patience, and good colour when you roast it. Use liver, gizzards, neck, pretty much the entire bird. I just think it’s the right thing to do to use all of the cuts, and some of the cuts that people don’t use are my favourite cuts to eat.”
– Mark Singson