May 25, 2024

A former Conestoga College student from the Cook I (Apprenticeship) program has been named one of 12 competitors on the Food Network’s Top Chef Canada.

Wallace Wong, also known as the Six Pack Chef, graduated in 2011 and appeared for the first time on Food Network when he won a Season 2 episode of Chopped Canada in 2015. Since then, he also finished as one of the 10 finalists of Bake It Possible in 2017.

According to Wong, the public can expect the same chef he was on Chopped Canada.

“It’s the same mindset and strategy, which is be myself, cook how I like to cook, have fun and make delicious food,” said the chef.

Even though Wong has worked at some of the best restaurants in the world, such as NOMA, Alinea, Langdon Hall and opened Momofuku Shoto, being on Top Chef Canada still feels like a dream — a really crazy one.

Wallace Wong said the best part about his job is that he is doing something that he loves. Photo courtesy of Wallace Wong/ All photo credits go to Food Network Canada.

“It’s just beginning and there’s so many emotions running through my head,” said Wong. “It’s also an honour because these are the best chefs in the entire country. To be able to battle it out against them, while not working in a restaurant for so long, it’s daunting, but I love a challenge.”

Wong was just finishing a business administration program at the Wilfrid Laurier University when he started to go to Conestoga.

“I found I really missed cooking and watched way too much Food Network and read cookbooks over my business books. So, I took a walk to Conestoga and peeked into some classroom,” explained Wong. “A professor came out and said, ‘Shouldn’t you be in class?’ I then told her I wasn’t a student, so we did a tour. I left and, the next day, signed up. With that said, the next semester I started my second year at Laurier for business while starting my first year at Conestoga for culinary.”

Wong’s former instructor at Conestoga, Phillipe Saraiva, explained what makes the Six Pack Chef different from other students.

“Wallace is a very driven person. . . a young lad who, when he grabs onto something, just doesn’t let go,” said Saraiva. “You know that he’s driven when he can do two courses at the same time. And on top of that, during that period that he was here, he was also already competing for Skills Ontario. He wanted to really compete.”

According to the chef, the college helped him really explore new horizons outside of the school’s curriculum in terms of events and competitions, being really supportive of him in his extracurricular projects.

Wong also has plans for the $100,000 prize, in case he wins the competition.

“It’s definitely getting invested into Six Pack Chef,” mentioned Wong. “I will also love to take some and celebrate with friends and family. You can bet there will be food!”

Six Pack Chef started as a nickname, but became nothing less than the chef’s personal brand.

“This all started when I was doing bodybuilding competitions while I was still cooking. Nicknames were given to me, like Muscle Chef or Fit Chef,” he explained. “I took those and put my spin on it, making it more streamlined and, thus, Six Pack Chef. It’s now became my personal brand and represents everything I stand for, which is eat good, look good and live great!”

Even though most people know Wong for being a strong, versatile chef with a love for challenges, he also had to struggle with cancer at a young age.

“I will be 12 years cancer-free this July! It affected everything because it was cancer that made me learn to cherish life and to try to live it to its fullest,” explained Wong.

Saraiva, proud of Wong’s ability to overcome, said that the competitor’s best feature is his willingness to support other people.

“What makes me the most proud is his ability to first help everybody else,” said the instructor. “He is is somebody that I call and he comes here to talk to the students. He’s very altruistic in telling people, ‘It is up to you. You can do anything you want. You just have to put in the work.’”

For aspiring chefs, Wong’s advice is to not be afraid to offer free service, since it is rarely turned down.

“My advice is don’t be afraid to try and taste everything. I don’t just mean with food, but to go and try different careers as a chef, different cuisines, different avenues,” said Wong. “To be a chef doesn’t mean being in the kitchen every day in a restaurant. I also would tell them that if there’s someone, something, a restaurant or a dish you really want to learn or it excites you, do everything you can to try to learn.”

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