Get your apron ready! We're cooking with a professional!
Meet John Leung, a former MasterChef Canada contestant, professional cook, and affiliated Twitch streamer. John was on MasterChef Canada's very first season, winning a coveted white apron. Today you'll find John sharing his love of food through his live cooking streams Twitch.
A Little Birdy Told Me...
John heard about Bessie through a little blue birdy. Twitter was buzzing about a local business that delivers Alberta farm to table meats; co-founded by a young, passionate, woman of colour - our very own Shanika Abeysinghe.
"As a cook that likes the explore the flavours of the world, I am excited to bring the flavours of the world and combine them with Alberta’s finest produce. We do like to brag that the beef we have here is the best -- so why not give them the best treatment with the finest flavours our big wide world has to offer?"
- John Leung
John reached out to Bessie, inquiring about our deliveries. After chatting for a bit, we invited John to teaming up to combine our love for food!
You can find John cooking up his favourites from Bessie live on Twitch. He will also be hosting a very special cook along on Saturday, March 20th, cooking up a Singapore Satay Party! Want to join in on the fun? Subscribe to your favourite Bessie Box (or build-your-own) for an exclusive invite to this cooking class. Or watch along on John's Twitch!
Learning more about John Leung
We're so excited to be teaming up with John Leung and to be cooking alongside one of Canada's first MasterChef contestants. So let's dive in and get to know who John Leung is!
What was your experience like on MasterChef Canada?
My experience on MasterChef Canada was amazing! I was a bit of a food snob as far back as I remember (my grandma/PoPo when she was alive loved to tell people the story of me as a wee babe suckling on a piece of chicken feet... not sure why), and it was a huge relief and joy to meet so many amazing food lovers that were just like me!
One thing I did learn on my very short time on that show is how to think quickly when it comes to cooking! I used to be very rigid and by the book, and while it made some delicious food, you cannot be so rigid when you have only 60 minutes to make a dish! And also, diversifying my flavours to include other ingredients and concepts -- no one wants to eat Asian dishes every time!
Plus I have made friends like Dora, Tammara, Nikita from Season 2 even April Lee from Season 3 that while we don’t get to talk to very often, our love of food keeps our bond alive.
Are there other competitions you've competed in and ones you hope to compete in?
Well, I just so happened to have competed in a little thing that a website called Foodbeast calls Kitchen League early in my streaming career (around July of 2020), where two food and drink streamers on Twitch go head-to-head in a battle royale on who has the better dish and performance. Needless to say, my first go around I eked out a tight decision against Katie Ruvalcaba, aka MrsRuvi, who has been streaming for many years. As much as I would like to get another shot at Kitchen League, I would love to have a shot at Top Chef Canada someday. An old coworker of mine from River Cafe, Galasa Aden, is on the current season, and I can’t wait to get a chance to cook in the Top Chef kitchen.
Do you have a chef that you look up to?
I have many chefs I look up to, from the obvious like Iron Chef Chinese (from the Japanese series) Chen Kenichi to local Calgary chefs like Roy Oh and Duncan Ly, but the person whom I look up to the most is my grandmother. She raised me from the time I was 2 to around 6 while my folks were at work, and taught me a love of food and basic Cantonese cooking that I am still slowly rediscovering as I look back on those years.
What is your favourite dish to cook?
Oh lord, that’s a tough one. What’s my favourite dish to cook? I would have to say curry. Or more specifically, Indonesian style beef rendang, a dry “curry” where the meat is literally fried in coconut oil, giving it almost a jerky-like texture with very little sauce but a LOT of flavour. While most home cooks in Malaysia and Indonesia would make it with chuck or some other leaner cut, I like it with short rib, which elevates the dish to a new level.
Plus, the rendang was my ticket onto the first season of MasterChef Canada. I made it during the non-televised audition stage, when I combined rendang with a spicy pickled cucumber (achar), a minty mango salsa on a fluffy garlic turmeric naan - needless to say I staked my claim as a contender to head to Toronto and even to win the whole thing that day. But y’all know what happened THERE...
What is your favourite thing about food and cooking?
My favourite thing about food and cooking is the creative aspect of it. I’d like to think that I think about food in different ways than most chefs, but really, I just like the experimentation - creating new flavours, tastes, and dishes for folks to enjoy. Not that I don’t mind line cooking at a restaurant, but I personally like more of the creative side of culinary (creating menus, discovering new tastes, etc.).
The internet is always chasing the next big trend, and usually it essentially boils down to a remix of an old favourite - tortilla hacks, anyone? So I say, why not be the trend-setter instead of being the trend follower?
What are you future plans and dreams with cooking?
My plans other than world domination... Having my own small food stand at a market, where I can serve up the amazing creations that I make live on Twitch three times a week with a rotating menu. In the long run, my dream would be to buy a motorcycle, build a noodle cart, and drive around Australia and New Zealand serving hand made noodles to hungry people all across this world of ours.
But step one: getting that Partnership with Twitch, which means we can potentially bring the Bessie brand to other parts of the world too.
[If you want to help John with his dream, follow him on Twitch here!]
What is the inspiration behind your cooking?
My inspirations are drawn from all over the place, but the core of my inspirations come from the western half of the Pacific Rim; running from far northern Japan all the way down to the sunny shores of Australia. I am originally from Hong Kong, a place that has dubbed itself a “Mecca for foodies” (Mei Sik Teen Tong in Cantonese), and seriously - you can find almost every cuisine you can imagine in that city!
So it’s no wonder that I draw my inspirations not just from the province of Guangdong (the home of Cantonese cuisine), but from places like the wilds of Northwestern China, the temperate climes of Sichuan, the bustling metropolises of Seoul and Tokyo, the spiciness of Vietnam, Thailand, Malaysia and Indonesia, as well as the cosmopolitan-ness of Singapore and Hong Kong. It’s a wide arc, but that’s how I can garner many ideas.
And hey, I’m not afraid to get inspired by places like Ethiopia, Morocco, Spain, Italy, France and the nations of South America as well - who doesn’t love a good ceviche, am I right?