The Canadian Food Experience Project: My Canadian Food Hero

I grew up in a blue collar, working class family and dinner was always on the table at 5 o’clock sharp and would be one of six or seven standard meals my mom would make.Going out to eat was always a treat and usually to the same two or three local restaurants.There was a little room for experimenting. One thing I remember was that my dad would on occasion go outside our neat and tidy box.  He worked most of his life at CN railways in Vaughan and was fortunate enough to be surrounded by staff from all over the world .  Some days on his way home to our house in Barrie he would stop and  pick up something from a deli near his work, something we would never had tried to make ourselves or even bought in our local grocer.  My brother and mother were picky eaters so the food was usually left just for me and dad to try.  I loved when these days happened.

My dad

My dad also started me on a love for cooking shows.  Back when I was growing up one of the most famous and I think one of the pioneers of cooking shows focusing on pure entertainment was Stephen Yan from Wok with Yan. He usually came on just as I got home from school and each episode I hoped he would making “exploding noodles” as I called them (later I realized it was only rice noodles that expanded when they hit the hot oil but to a young kid this was so cool.)  I was fascinated by his ability to create fast and fresh meals in under 30 minutes and I openly envied the special guest who had that episodes spot at the dinner table. While most of his jokes clearly went over my head, I still laughed along with his studio audience and couldn’t wait to see what his apron would say next.

My dad was also a huge fan of Pasquale Kitchen Express salivating over all the amazing dishes he would create while singing opera to his audience.  Dad would lovingly joke to my mom that his next wife would be Italian since she hardly ever cooked us pasta. And as I got older and was allowed to spend time in the kitchen experimenting with recipes I always had my dad in mind.  I knew whatever I made he would be the first to try it and love it (whether it was any good or not).

Even now when I cook I think about whether or not he would have enjoyed it.  I know he would be my biggest fan, softest critic and most eager taste tester.

So here’s to my food hero; my angel, my dad.  The man who helped me see that there was so much more out there to eat, to try and to enjoy.

And here is my try at Stephen Yan’s Beef and Broccoli. I used broccolini and red onion for my interpretation and served it with a simple fried rice.

Yields 2

Beef and Broccoli
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  • 1 package broccolini or 1 head of broccoli, chopped
  • 1/2 medium onion, cut into 1" pieces
  • 1 carrot, sliced
  • 1 flank steak, sliced
  • 1/2 tsp soy sauce
  • 1/2 tsp sesame oil
  • 1 tsp cornstarch
  • 2 tbsp oil
  • 1 clove garlic


  1. In a small bowl combine the steak, soy sauce, sesame oil and cornstarch.
  2. Bring a pot of water to a boil and add 2 tsp salt. Heat up your wok.
  3. Place broccoli in boiling. While the broccoli is cooking add the oil, garlic and onion to your wok. Cook 15 sec then add your beef.
  4. Cook until beef is no longer pink then add your carrots and using a slotted spoon your broccoli.
  5. Cook for 1 minutes then serve.
Recipe Type: Main Dishes




The Canadian Food Experience Project began June 7 2013. As we (participants) share our collective stories across the vastness of our Canadian landscape through our regional food experiences, we hope to bring global clarity to our Canadian culinary identity through the cadence of our concerted Canadian voice. Please join us.   I hope you enjoy my experiences and stories with Canadian food and hope you get a chance to check out the other bloggers involved. Please leave a comment below about your own experience based on the monthly theme.

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  1. What a sweet, sweet story! Your dad will love it - and it is so true... the affect that positive reinforcement at home can have on shaping who we each become - as well as the intense impact that the food fed to us at home has had on shaping our understanding of Canadian Food. :) V
  2. This was such a great story Heather - Love the fact that this is something that you've got in common with your dad :)


  1. [...] at The Tasty Garner from Toronto, Ontario, shares her attempt at beef and broccoli from the classic Wok with Yan.  It [...]

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