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Supporting Newcomers & Refugees

Q&A with Celebrity Chef, Susur Lee

Susur Lee-Header
Susur Lee-Header
Photo credits to Transparent Kitchen

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What was your experience as a newcomer to Canada? 

My experience as a newcomer was filled with deep learning of new cultures and, of course, learning about new foods. Canada is such a multicultural country that it allowed me to better understand its politics, values, and celebrations, which I would not have known about if I had stayed in my home country of Hong Kong. I experienced so much endless learning that enriched me as a person.

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What drew you to pursue a career in the culinary space? 

My approach to the culinary space was quite innocent. It began with my love of food as a kid. Luckily, it was a natural and easy journey to fall into this career, and I still love it. 

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What challenges did you face starting a career in Canada as a newcomer? 

The challenges when starting my career were the extremely long hours and days. However, The challenges when starting my career were the extremely long hours and days. However, being busy and focused on my work was a positive distraction for me from many of the other challenges of being a newcomer to Canada. 

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Why did you choose Toronto to open your restaurant? 

I chose Toronto to open my restaurant because Canadians are really open-minded and embrace multiculturalism. They’re also curious about experiencing different foods from these cultures. So, I thought this would be the perfect place to introduce my east-meets-west fusion cooking. 

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What inspires your cuisine of Asian- and French-influenced dishes?   

I’m Chinese-born, and naturally, I cherish the cuisine. I became interested in French cooking while training in a French kitchen in Hong Kong. It was both my upbringing and my early training that inspired my Asian and French fusion cooking style. 

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What were some factors that helped you succeed as an immigrant to Canada?

My success as an immigrant came with hard work and dedication. I was focused, willing to learn and grow, and passionate. When you love what you do, success follows. 

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What do you wish to tell immigrants beginning their careers in Canada?

My advice to new immigrants would be:

  • Be accepting of different cultures and have a willingness to integrate
  • Find where you want to live and be involved in the community
  • Remember your roots and where you came from, and implement your roots to guide your career
  • Do what you’re good at and passionate about
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