We chatted with Chef Roger Mooking, judge on Food Network Canada’s Wall of Chefs and Fire Masters, about what inspires his cooking, his latest charity initiatives and meal kit release, where he sees the future of food headed, and more.
What sparked your interest in cooking?
I’m now the third generation person in food and beverage on the paternal side of my family. I was born in Trinidad into a food- and music-obsessed household. At a young age, I realized that the fastest way to put what I wanted into my face was to learn how to make it myself. That started at around five years old and hasn’t stopped.
How has culture played a role in your culinary journey?
Culture, history, art, and necessity have informed my culinary journey. Everything is connected to food, and my curiosities are vast. My family is extremely diverse culturally and my travels and exploration have continued to inform my cooking style. What is an absolute “no-no” in one culture is a master technique in another. I’m always learning, exploring, and sharing.
How did #PerogiesforKids, a campaign supporting Save the Children Canada’s Emergency Response efforts for children affected by conflict and crisis, come to be?
When we launched my restaurant Twist by Roger Mooking several years ago, I put a Loaded Perogie dish on the menu. It was inspired by a childhood memory of my mother learning how to make perogies from a Ukrainian grandmother in Edmonton, Alta., where I grew up. I’ve been working with Save the Children Canada since 2011, and with the ongoing and various crises around the world, and the connection to Ukraine, it was a no-brainer to connect the dots and build a campaign that would support those in need globally. You can read more about how to help at twistbyrogermooking.com/perogies.
Where do you see the future of food headed?
Firstly, convenience will continue to be of growing interest in the food and beverage space, especially with both restaurants and consumers finding new ways of engaging with one another in new and meaningful ways. Also, I believe we will return to hyper-localized ingredients in the short- to mid-term, as the global climate crisis devastates farming and global supply chains continue to be a growing issue, not to mention unprecedented inflation. We’ll return to basics and we’ll be seeing a lot of home-grown gardening and bartering for food resources. Also, look to carbon-neutral farming that’s vertical and greenhouse-based. Simultaneously, the global population will continue to mix and diversity will drive new food ways, culinary traditions, and dishes and increase demand for access to global ingredients. Strap on your seatbelts, because it’s going to be a wild one.
Can you tell us about your meal kits being released this summer?
I’m working with Chefdrop to deliver summer-friendly dishes directly to your doorstep, anywhere across Southern Ontario. These recipes are close to my heart, drawing from my adventures and my heritage. This new partnership will give people access to some of my favourite dishes right at home. I’m excited to bring new offerings to the platform, to Mooking fans, and to anyone who cares to go on the adventure with us!
Do you have any other tips and tricks to share with Canadians who are cooking at home?
Go to rogermooking.com/recipes to find a whole bunch of recipes loaded with tips and tricks. These recipes are loaded with seasonal barbeque-friendly tips for the grill lovers out there. One thing I’m always hyper-focused on is introducing ingredients and techniques from around the globe to folks who may have a self-imposed boundary that doesn’t need to exist. Most importantly, every recipe works and is delicious!