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Notable People: Craig Wong, Brings Asian-Caribbean Soul Food to the World

Chef Craig Wong, a culinary virtuoso with a unique blend of Jamaican-Chinese heritage, has carved a niche in the global gastronomy scene with his innovative approach to food.

Chef Craig Wong, a culinary virtuoso with a unique blend of Jamaican-Chinese heritage, has carved a niche in the global gastronomy scene with his innovative approach to food. Trained in the prestigious kitchens of Europe, including Michelin-starred restaurants like Alain Ducasse au Plaza Athénée and The Fat Duck, Wong’s journey is a testament to his relentless pursuit of culinary excellence.

His signature style, described as “Asian-Caribbean soul food,” reflects a deep reverence for his roots, offering a tantalizing fusion that captivates the palate and the imagination. As the creative force behind Toronto’s acclaimed Patois, JunePlum and Dubai’s pioneering Ting Irie, Wong’s dishes tell a story of heritage, innovation, and the universal language of food. In this interview, Chef Wong shares insights into his culinary journey, the inspirations behind his distinctive cuisine, and his vision for the future of gastronomy.

Can you tell us about your culinary journey and what inspired you to become a chef? You’ve trained in some prestigious Michelin-starred restaurants in Europe. How did those experiences influence your cooking style and approach to food?

Cooking was something that I could channel all of my efforts and make every part of me work to do something great. I wanted to know why French cuisine was considered so avant-garde and desired in Toronto. This path took me to fine-dining French cuisine. I lived in France for 3 years, studying at L’Institut Paul Bocuse and working in Michelin-starred restaurants, including Alain Ducasse au Plaza Athénée & The Fat Duck. I wanted to tell my own story. Every time I would walk into a new kitchen, I was the only Asian-looking guy. I could cook other people’s food, but it was not my story.

Your cuisine is described as “Asian-Caribbean soul food.” How did you develop this unique fusion of flavours, and what does it mean to you personally? 

I knew I wanted to open Patois with this type of identity. It’s a reflection of my Jamaican-Chinese heritage. I was proud of my heritage, and I needed to open a restaurant that felt true to my outlook on food.

Your heritage plays a significant role in your cooking. Can you share some key dishes or ingredients inspired by your Jamaican-Chinese background? 

Jerk Chicken Chow Mein. It’s the perfect blend and harmony of Asian and Caribbean cultures. Many people are shocked to find out that Jerk Paste has origins with Chinese ingredients. Soy sauce and scallions join scotch bonnet, thyme, pimento, ginger, rum, pineapple, nutmeg… All of these flavours combine to give you a punchy, flavourable jerk paste that we use in our restaurant. 

Opening Patois Toronto in 2014 marked a significant milestone in your career. Patois Toronto has received numerous accolades and was named one of Toronto Life’s Top 20 restaurants. What sets Patois apart and makes it a must-visit dining destination? 

At Patois, we do things family style: Eat, Drink, Share. It’s our ethos. Nothing speaks volumes about Chinese culture like generosity and kindness. That’s the exact feeling we wanted to achieve with Patois and what has kept people coming back. We bring people innovative food with bold and satisfying flavours. Next year marks our 10-year anniversary, and our Toronto community is a huge part of who we are and what has made us great.

You’re the Executive Chef of Ting Irie, Dubai’s first Jamaican restaurant. What has been your experience in bringing Jamaican flavours to a diverse culinary scene in Dubai? 

Six months after opening Patois, we went to Dubai to work on Ting Irie. The concept of bringing Jamaican flavour to the Middle East was something that I had wanted to do. The ingredients, heavy spices, and the love for braised meat and stews with rice and seafood… just made sense to me. It was a great challenge I’m proud to have accomplished and helped establish.

As someone deeply rooted in the Toronto culinary scene, what do you see as the future trends in food, and can you tell us about any upcoming projects or culinary experiments you have in the pipeline for your restaurants or personal brand?

We’ve always got lots in the works, from a Studio Kitchen to more.

Follow Chef Craig’s journey on Instagram @craigwong, and learn more about his projects at

Ashley Nedaei

Ashley is the Director of Marketing at Notable Life Inc. As an audacious and creative entrepreneurial spirit, she splits her time between raising her two sons with her husband and toy poodle and creative pursuits in music, beauty, and business. Follow her adventures @ndaiart.