He has the prescription to cure your sweet tooth
Former pharmacist and MasterChef Canada finalist cooking up delectable treats at Scarborough store
Christopher Siu did a total of eight years of university to become a pharmacist. He worked in the profession full time for just over a year.
It’s the kind of thing that deeply upsets parents. But the 28-year-old — whom you might recall as a top-five finalist on 2015’s MasterChef Canada — is tackling the dessert business via his new business on Midland Ave. near Finch Ave. E. with enough professionalism and ambition to do the family proud. Daan Go Cake Lab — the name means cake in Chinese — focuses on cakes and macarons. The treats here fuse traditional French techniques with Eastern flavours (and a few Western ones too).
He does limited wholesale. The focus is on selling desserts to walk-in customers. He’s already got a sizable staff coming in early every morning to bake, decorate and slice to keep up with demand. “We are busy,” he says. “People come in for a cake and get macarons for a gift.”
Cakes include the bright green Zen, made with black and white sesame, matcha and soft milk cheese. The Diamond is dark chocolate, hazelnut, passion fruit, almond and feuilletine.
All are finished to perfection. They sell for $6.50 a slice and $42 for a six-serving cake.
The macarons, meanwhile, take cuteness to the next level. One decorated like a tiger is salted-caramel flavoured while a panda is roasted milk tea.
For Chinese New Year, Siu created a Shiba Inu dog cookie in white peach and a lucky cat in yuzu and blood orange.
Siu sells his macarons for $3.50, three for $10 or nine for $30.
Unexpectedly, these perfectly decorated creations come at the hand of a baker who avoided art classes as a child. But he did like sweets.
Siu’s dad, who works in IT and wasn’t a serious baker, would make his two sons cheesecakes for their birthdays when they were children. Siu adored the treat and begged for one every year.
Soon, family started supporting his interest in baking by giving him cookbooks. He recalls messing around in the kitchen as young as 6, making cookies and the like.
“I don’t think any of them were edible.”
He recalls one recipe for bread that you’d decorate to look like a porcupine. Total disaster, but a foreshadowing of his style to come.
In high school near his home in Markham, young Siu focused on math and science, and that helped in the kitchen. “A lot more about baking started to make sense.”
While studying biomedical sciences at the University of Waterloo and then pharmacy at the University of Toronto, Siu kept baking.
When he heard about auditions for MasterChef Canada on the radio, he went for it, auditioning with a tart and cream puffs that married his now-honed pastry chef skills with flavours such as chai and matcha.
He got in. The show was shot in 2014 and the university let him juggle things to avoid conflicts. He wrapped up his degree a few months after it aired, in 2015.
“It opened up a lot of opportunities,” Siu says of the show.
But as a new grad with a promising profession, he went to work as a pharmacist.
All the while, he kept baking and sold his creations at GTA food festivals.
He quit his day job in early 2017 and took off for a month to Asia with his girlfriend to taste adventuresome sweets. He returned more convinced than ever that Toronto could use more interesting desserts.
So he got this location in an emerging part of Scarborough with restau- rants nearby. “It’s my first business, I had to look at an affordable location,” he says.
His plan is to get this outfit rolling and then open more sharply focused concepts, all sticking to desserts (at least for now). Already, he’s working with a friend to develop a new business.
Looking ahead, Siu sees himself with a range of different shops across the city. Finally, he’d like to have an outlet that takes it to the next level, with a larger array of choices for what he calls a “dessert experience” via an ambitious tasting menu.
Big plans — if he can execute them as well as he pulls off a perfectly frosted cake and a super cute cookie, he’ll ensure this new profession will sweetly outshine the first.
For Chinese New Year, Daan Go Cake Lab owner Christopher Siu created a Shiba Inu dog cookie in white peach and a lucky cat in yuzu and blood orange.
Siu says he’d like to have an outlet that takes it to the next level, with an array of choices for what he calls a “dessert experience” via an ambitious menu.
Daan Go Cake Lab is in an emerging part of Scarborough with restaurants nearby.
The Daan Go Cake Lab sells many varieties of macarons that change seasonally. The shop fuses French techniques with Eastern flavours.
The Miso Butter Tart. Owner Christopher Siu does limited wholesale, but his focus is on selling desserts to walk-in customers.