The Joyce of Cooking is sharing Asian culture through cooking
Joyce connects the local community, sharing important aspects of her culture, through her popular cooking classes.
The Joyce of Cooking is a series of Asian cooking classes hosted by Joyce Leung, a food writer for the Hamilton Spectator. In this series, she explores various cuisines, including Chinese, Thai, Japanese, Indian and more.
Leung was born in Hong Kong and moved to Canada when she was six years old. She graduated from the University of Guelph’s hospitality and tourism management program after which she went on to work as a manager at and Terminal 3 restaurants at Pearson Airport.
“I always loved food. It was always a big part of my life,” said Leung.
It was only after she started a marketing job though that she began a blog to teach people how to cook. Right before the COVID-19 pandemic began, she started working with the Casual Gourmet to host Asian food cooking demos. But a week in, she transitioned to online classes every weekend.
This year, she has returned to in-person cooking classes at the Casual Gourmet. For classes involving a stove, she does them at the Chef Supply Store on James Street North and the Modern Design Studio on Locke Street. She also hosts classes at breweries in Kitchener and Guelph.
Her cooking classes accommodate people from all levels and she does her best to ensure everyone is comfortable. She explains her steps in different ways since she recognizes everyone learns differently.
“Some people like to watch me do it once and then they try. Some people like to listen, some people like to do it along with me to fully understand. So I try to be really patient and explain my directions multiple times,” explained Leung.
Her cooking classes stand out due to her hands-on approach and the inclusivity of her lessons for all ages and cooking skills. Her sushi classes are the most popular along with dumplings, Chinese and Thai dishes.
Leung’s goal is to help build confidence in her students while doing her part in reducing food insecurity since it is more economical to make your own food. She also teaches variations of recipes to accommodate everyone.
“I really want [people] to build confidence in the kitchen . . . I think if you build a lot of confidence in the kitchen, you're more inclined to try a harder recipe or potentially a different cuisine altogether. My ultimate goal for cooking classes is to reduce food insecurity,” said Leung.
In the future, she hopes to continue running her Asian cooking classes and volunteer at various organizations in Hamilton to teach cooking skills to more people.