"Cooking at home alway sparks my creativity. I also garden and I’m an urban beekeeper. Having a close connection to things you grow really helps with being creative."
Chef Nick Liu's love for the culinary arts dates back to his youth, where his grandparents would get him and his brother involved in the kitchen, preparing family recipes such as how now-famous hakka wontons. As Executive Chef/Partner at the critically acclaimed DaiLo, LoPan and Little DaiLo in Toronto, Nick Liu is renowned for his delicate handling of bold Asian flavours with traditional French techniques.
How do you see the industry in 6 months? Where do you see yourself in 6 months?
NL: The industry has always been a beautiful struggle. Social distancing and lowered capacity in our restaurant has made things even more difficult. We’re looking ahead now and as it’s been said, “winter is coming.” It’s going to get very difficult for restaurants to survive over the next six months with the cooler weather and patio dining closing. Businesses will need to pivot quickly and create multiple income streams. A lot of businesses will close down over the next 6 months because they don’t have the resources to pivot quick enough. But the restaurants that survive through this will flourish.
I’ve always been a glass half-full type of person. I have great staff, great partners, and great local support. We have a plan in place and we’re ready to pivot quickly and do whatever it takes to keep our staff employed and our guests happy and safe.
Often positive changes can arise from hardship, What would you like to see come out of 2020?
NL: Before COVID hit ,everyone was in a frantic rush to get somewhere. We become oblivious to things and the people around us. The hardships and difficulties faced over the past six months have allowed us to stop and smell the roses. It made us appreciate the things we have and cherish the things we’ve lost. People are starting to become more patient, compassionate, and understanding and I’d like to see more of that.
What have you been doing to stay creative?
NL: Cooking at home alway sparks my creativity. I also garden and I’m an urban beekeeper. Having a close connection to things you grow really helps with being creative.
What can we, the people of Toronto, do to help?
NL: Torontonians can continue to be supportive by dining in small, locally-owned restaurants. Making better decisions about the restaurants they order takeout from and ordering from independent restaurants versus corporate. Toronto diners need to remember all restaurant industry employees, front and back of house, are front line workers too. Please respect each restaurant’s COVID-19 rules to protect staff and patrons and also, please speak up if you feel some restaurants are not following rules and putting people at risk.
Who is someone who is doing something you love right now and why?
NL: Henry Wu, President of Tasty Pixels. Henry is a very well known restaurateur in Toronto. He’s been a partner in many of Toronto’s most successful restaurants and hotels. He left the industry a year ago to pursue his other passion, which is film. Not only is Henry a visionary, he’s a collector of good people. His team consists of everyone he’s worked with in the restaurant industry from his past, creating new positions and opportunities for bartenders, servers, and managers in his production company. Henry and his team are currently working on a few projects, some of which brought him full circle back into the restaurant industry.
Check out his special dim sum box offered specially for the screening of My Farmland.
Also, to try your hand at his famous hakka wonton! Listen his episode on the amazing "Homecooked" podcast.