Food is love. What a simple, yet meaningful way to sum it up.
Jen Chan has translated that love affair into a food blog, something she likes to call FoodPr0n. She may not always feature Toronto in her blog, but she always focuses on that close relationship we have with our delightful dishes. As Jen puts it, “Food is not just about sustenance, but also about taste, creativity, and social interaction.” She captures her experiences through her lens and diary-style entries of restaurant experiences. She dishes on Toronto’s foodie events, restaurants, and reviews the best of what Toronto has to offer.
When and why did you start writing about food?
Officially, I started my blog Foodpr0n in 2009, but I have been posting about food on various forums and then Flickr since 2003 (I had to look that up actually). I’d forgotten when I’d started; it was so long ago now!
What do you love most about food?
Aside from the obvious quest for deliciousness, the social and cultural aspects centered around food are fascinating to me. Everyone needs to eat, but there is always more to food; we celebrate, we mourn, and we take comfort in and with our meals.
What do you do when you aren’t writing about or eating food?
Typically, I’ll be playing video games or reading.
Do you cook? If so, what’s your speciality? If not, why?
I love to bake. I think most people would know me, if anything, for my green tea shortbread cookies during Christmas time. However, Kuih Bangkit, traditional cookies from Malaysia, are currently gaining a lot of popularity…
What’s your favourite type of food(s) and where do you go to get it?
Chicken and rice! And while I think I do a good job, my mother makes it the best. The chicken is gently poached and rice is cooked with chicken stock or sometimes fried up in fat first. It’s so good!
What’s your hidden gem?
There’s a selfish part of me that wants to keep my hidden gems all to myself, but good food from good people deserves to be shared. Mot Na Son and One2 Snacks were my hidden gems, but I’ve long since shared their secret with many.
What’s the most memorable meal you’ve ever had?
Many years ago, The French Laundry opened my eyes to a new level of food, but moreso, to a new level of service. While I’ve had several memorable meals since (most notably Eleven Madison Park last year), TFL was really the first experience to make me think differently about my meal and look beyond the plate. I doubt that there will ever be a meal that can push that memory from its pedestal.
What’s the one restaurant you have to try before you die?
There will always be lists. And there are many delicious places at which to dine, both on China and on plastic. Instead, before I die, I would love to learn how to make more of my favourite Malaysian desserts and dishes that I associate with my family. I’ll make a book of those recipes someday.
What’s your biggest restaurant pet peeve? (play nice)
I can’t remember the last time I was truly bothered by something a restaurant did. There are always minor gripes, but I’m just too laid back to call anything an actual peeve.