Despite falling just short of reaching the MasterChef Canada Season 4 finale, Edmonton’s Mai Nguyen quite clearly demonstrated both the passion and the skillset of a professional caliber chef.
Following successful stints on the lines at renowned restaurants Prairie Noodle Shop and Biera, the talented cook continued her forward culinary trajectory by hosting a series of pop-up dinner events and then launched her own company, Gourmai Dumplings.
Since returning to the MCC kitchen this winter for MasterChef Canada: Back To Win–their "All Stars" season if you will–the once-self-proclaimed timid home cook has proven that her decision to switch careers was more than justified. Thus far this season, the Edmontonian has demonstrated an enhanced cooking ability along with a newfound assertiveness as a team leader.
After another strong showing in the most recent episode of MasterChef Canada, we thought it would be the perfect time to share Nguyen's go-to dining destinations in Edmonton.
I’m usually not a fan of eating large breakfasts. I typically opt for a pastry and a coffee in the mornings. My favourite pastry to pair with coffee is the sticky buns at Brio Bakery. They’re deadly, I’m not even a sweets person, but I can for sure put two away in a sitting and that’s saying a lot as they’re quite large.
I prefer casual lunches and like to grab and go. Whenever I’m around the area, I love to grab a banh mi from Van Loc. Their bread is the best, it’s so crisp and flakey. Just make sure that you restrain yourself from chowing down in the car because you’ll never be rid of all the crumbs!
I’m very much biased here as I used to work here, but it’s always such a pleasure to eat at Biera. Chef Christine Sanford has such a unique perspective on food and she holds such high standards for ingredients and doesn’t believe in shortcuts. The grilled Berkshire pork shoulder with candied beets and jus is my all-time favourite dish at Biera. The charcoal flavour of the grilled pork paired with tangy chewy beets is just perfection.
These days I’m just enjoying a glass of wine, specifically natural wine, at home. Color De Vino has one of the best selections for natural wine in the city and I’m always excited to discover a new favourite.