As an award-winning chef, and co-owner of Cantine Teré in Montreal’s Mile End neighbourhood, 31-year-old Chanthy Yen’s star is rising. He has already earned an enviable reputation for his experimental approach to cooking that melds techniques and flavours of Mexico, Spain, Canada and, particularly, Cambodia. As Yen tells it, seeing the world, studying culinary arts in British Columbia and being raised within an Asian culture has deeply impacted how he cooks and lives his life.
Here are few words from Chanthy in an interview by Vacay.ca’s Chefs Talk series.
How has your Cambodian heritage influenced your cooking?
I grew up with my grandparents who were refugees. It was in a household where English was the second language. I didn’t learn to speak English until I was 6 or 7. We lived in subsidized housing and received food boxes filled with things we had never seen or tasted before. When I first saw peppercorns, I thought they were candy. We did a lot of experimenting, creating ways to make western staples like Aunt Jemima pancake mix taste more like home, by adding bacon and chives. Sometimes it worked out. I learned a lot of the fundamentals of Cambodian cooking, fermenting, building robust flavours with lots of aromatics, using citrus when needed and using the most of every ingredient. And I learned to experiment.
What would you like to be known for?
For diversity in food and in the kitchen, and putting the spotlight on Cambodian cuisine.
Happiness is. …
Food with the ones you love.
In full here.