Tiffy Chen was born and raised in Taiwan. As a teenager, she immigrated with her family to Canada. She turned her passion project of cooking and sharing food videos and stories into a widely successful online platform, Tiffy Cooks, featuring her signature easy-to-make Asian recipes. Her first cookbook, Tiffy Cooks, launches on February 27. In it, she shares 88 of her favourite everyday family-style recipes from across Asia. Tiffy lives in Vancouver with her family, her husband Dom, and their cats, Panthy and Stormy. —Vita Daily
Hi Tiffy! Please tell us a bit about yourself to start.
I’m a huge foodie and proud home cook specializing in easy, comforting Asian recipes. I’m the proud founder of kai dong foods, and I’m also really excited to be a published author soon! I am lucky to call two places home that are celebrated for their rich culinary offerings: Taiwan, renowned for its vibrant food culture and some of the best street eats in the world, and Vancouver, which has an amazing culinary scene with diverse cultural influences.
How do you use your platform to impact those who follow you?
I’m so grateful to have my platforms to be able to share my love for food with the world. I have a strong passion for sharing easy recipes that people can recreate at home. My cooking inspiration came from when I moved away to a small town for university with no access to Asian food. From there, I got inspired to start cooking, which is why I try my best to use ingredients and condiments that are easily accessible to everyone, so they can easily recreate these recipes no matter where they live. I also love sharing the stories behind my recipes and dishes, including pieces of my memories from my home and childhood.
Congrats on your new cookbook! What inspired you to write it, who is it for?
This cookbook is dedicated to my family; it is a culmination of not only our recipes, but also our memories. It’s always been a dream of mine to create a cookbook, and I still can’t believe that this is coming to life. It’s been a dream come true to be cooking with my mom and my grandma to develop these recipes and recreate childhood dishes that I grew up loving.
Happy Lunar New Year! What’s your favourite thing about this time of year—and how do you celebrate with family and friends?
I love that Lunar New Year brings my family all together! Growing up, I remember spending a whole day in the kitchen filled with laughter with my grandma and mom while bulk wrapping dumplings. Beyond just the fact that I get to enjoy my grandma’s and my mom’s cooking during a celebratory feast, it’s really just about spending quality time with your loved ones. Since immigrating to Canada, I haven’t been able to celebrate Lunar New Year with my grandparents and extended family quite as much, but just cooking their recipes feels like we’re all together and it brings back so many precious memories.
Do you have a favourite recipe for Lunar New Year?
I can narrow it down to two sections in my cookbook that are my go-tos for Lunar New Year. The first, Family Style Dining, features recipes for dishes you’d find in restaurants in Taiwan; they’re all meant for sharing and you can choose from different appetizers and entrées to customize your meals for your friends and family. The second section, Make in Bulk, shows you how to prepare bao, wontons, noodles and dumplings in quantity. These recipes are all freezer-friendly, allowing you to premake these—which will help you save a lot of time the day of your Lunar New Year dinner!
It’s the Year of the Dragon: what animal sign were you born under?
Rooster! Fun fact: because Lunar New Year follows the lunar calendar, the dates always fall on different days each year. Even though most of my friends and family that were born in the same year on the Gregorian calendar are dogs, my birthday in February fell right before Lunar New Year that year, so I’m a rooster!
What are your wishes for the New Year?
Health is wealth! And another year filled with yummy food and memories!