Oliver Li – Chef Teacher at the culinary college in Toronto
Oliver Li, originally from Shanghai, with a stopover as Executive Sous Chef in Germany, at the restaurant, “Zum Schwarzen Stern” in Frankfurt, become a Chef Teacher at the top culinary college in Toronto Canada, the George Brown College / The Chefs’ House.
Originally from Shanghai, has been employed at the George Brown College since 2005. He spent two years as a Chef Technologist at The Chef School and student-operated “Siegfried’s” restaurant before assuming the role of Chef De Cuisine in 2008 for The Chefs’ House.
Prior to joining George Brown College, he was Executive Sous Chef at the Hilton Toronto. He also spent nearly four years working in Germany as Executive Sous Chef for the restaurant “Zum Schwarzen Stern” in Frankfurt: This was worlds away from where he had his seven-year career start as Chef Training Manager and Sous Chef for the Hilton Shanghai.
Oliver is very passionate about training and teaching, and ultimately, hopes that all of his students will know the pride of being part of the top culinary college in Canada. He wants their experience at The Chefs’ House to be inspiration for their future careers.
We have met him for an interview.
Where did you learn to become chef?
In Shanghai, China with Hilton International.
What have been your working stations as a chef so far?
All stations in the kitchen, spent a lot of time in the banquet production doing large number big evet, but also in independent free standing restaurant, as restaurant chef, and executive sous chef in a large hotel, Hilton Toronto.
What is your culinary line as a chef?
Solid western classical cooking fundamental cooking knowledge and skills (French, German, and Italian), with good understanding of Chinese cuisine and cooking skills.
If you would open your own restaurant; where would it be and with which specialisation?
Shanghai or Toronto. It would be a upscale fine western restaurant with some Asian fusion.
What is your opinion to the Michelin Star?
I don’t really know much about how the system works and I don’t really have a strong option about it but do has my full respect to all the chefs who own Michelin Star.
The Chefs House: please tell us some more about the idea behind and your work there? What courses do you offer (are they international)?
We are part of George Brown College Chef School, a very well respected culinary school in Canada/North America. The idea of the restaurant is to provide a real-life learning platform for our second year culinary and hospitality (FOH) students, apply and practice their hands-on skills, building confidents before they move on to the industry. Please see the link below for details.
Chef Teacher at the culinary college
Is the Chefs House a private organisation?
No, it is part of government funded provincial college.
Do you offer courses as well for chefs which would to extend their skills?
No, to our full-time students only, but our school continue education program does offer courses for chefs, or any person who would like to extend their skills.
How long are the courses? And can interested people from European apply as well?
The full-time program can be one year or two year, we have large population of international students. Please see the link for college website for details.
The chefs House operates a restaurant as well: what is the specialisation of the restaurant?
A student learning focused restaurant, open to the public just like a free standing restaurant. Please refer to our website for details if you like.
How is the chef education system in Canada?
There are many government funded program in place, but mainly is done through colleges like us.
Toronto has a large Chinese community: and China a wide range of different regions/ kitchen: Are the Chinese restaurants in Toronto specialized of Chinese regions?
Yes, you can pretty much find all different kind Chinese restaurant in Toronto, as matter of fact, different kind of international restaurants featuring the cuisine around the world are very well presented here in Toronto.
Is there a trend of new Chinese restaurants in Toronto; which try to make something new/ innovative/ different?
Changing and evolving all the time, a lot of trend Chinese chain restaurants now has their restaurant in Toronto, Hot Pot, Peaking Duck, or Noodle Shop, just a few example. There will be more for sure.
What is the big new trend in Toronto’s kitchen scene?
Local soured ingredients, international flavour, gluten-free, more vegetables……
Thank you for your time.