Nick Liu is the chef-owner of DaiLo, a stylish two-storey restaurant in Little Italy known for its creative plates that fuse Canadian ingredients with Chinese, Filipino and Southeast Asian recipes. We chatted with Liu about staying positive in a pandemic, why DaiLo won’t be offering takeout, and what he has in store for TL Insiders as this month’s virtual chef in residence.
How have you been holding up?
You don’t have any choice but to stay positive. Although this pandemic is tough—especially for the restaurant industry—I think that once we get through this, the world will be a better place; people will come together. I’ve also never felt prouder to be Canadian. Our leaders have done a great job.
DaiLo’s been closed since the middle of March, when do you plan to re-open?
We decided not to do takeout since I feel that dining out is so much more than just putting food in people’s mouths. Restaurants like DaiLo are about creating experiences. Plus, I felt I couldn’t guarantee my staff’s safety because it’s hard to socially distance in a kitchen. We’re waiting to hear from the government on when we can expect to re-open. At the moment, it sounds like June is the target.
What have you been doing to keep busy?
Mostly, I’ve been trying to stay relevant! These days, that means creating a lot of cooking videos for Instagram. But really, I’m just doing a lot of cooking at home. I recently moved into a new place and the kitchen is amazing.
What have you been cooking for yourself?
Everything! Lasagna, Neapolitan pizza, spicy lamb with hand-pulled noodles, Malaysian clams, Trini doubles—whatever comes to mind, really.
You’re Toronto Life’s virtual chef-in-residence this month, which means you’ll be hosting an online cooking class for TL Insiders. What do you plan to teach them?
We’ll be making DaiLo’s hakka wontons, which are based on a recipe passed down from my grandmother. I’ve been making them since I was four years old. My parents would ship me and my brother off to stay with my grandparents every summer. We were shitty kids, so to keep us from fighting all the time, my grandparents would keep us busy in the kitchen.
So, making these wontons is a child-friendly activity?
For sure, it’s a great way to keep kids busy.
What’s it like working with TL Insider?
This is my first time being a virtual chef-in-residence, but I hosted events with TL Insider before the pandemic. I love how they give chefs the freedom to put on creative food events.
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