He has the pre­scrip­tion to cure your sweet tooth

Former phar­ma­cist and MasterChef Canada fi­nal­ist cook­ing up de­lec­ta­ble treats at Scar­bor­ough store

Toronto Star - - BUSINESS - DIANE PETERS SPE­CIAL TO THE STAR

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.

STEVE RUS­SELL PHO­TOS/TORONTO STAR

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.

STEVE RUS­SELL/TORONTO STAR PHO­TOS

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.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Canada

© PressReader. All rights reserved.