Student chef serves up comfort food with a twist

Kelsey Wong’s mac and cheese recipe elevates a simple dish in reach of those on a budget

Student chef Kelsey Wong is a lover of mac and cheese. And that’s exactly why she chose to showcase the cheesy classic as a budget-friendly meal option.

“I chose this because mac and cheese is my ideal comfort food,” she said.

Wong said she likes that mac and cheese can be done classically or can be elevated by adding different ingredients to it.

She is in the baking and pastry arts management program at George Brown College (GBC).

“I picked this program because I wanted to get into the baking industry and I also wanted to get the business side of things and I know George Brown offered that,” she said. “I heard lots of great things about it and I knew looking at the program itself that it was what I wanted to do.”

Wong has a degree in nutrition from the University of British Columbia and decided to come to Toronto for school because she fell in love with the city.

“I didn’t see myself following that career path of just lab work and I wanted to do something more hands-on and in an environment that you could chat and make those connections with customers, clients and your co-workers,” she said.

Growing up, Wong cooked alongside her mother and later learned she came from a line of bakers.

“My family, a lot of them are teachers and lawyers, so taking the bakery aspect was kind of different, but then realizing ‘No, half of my family are bakers and have worked in the food industry,’ so it’s kind of like going back to your roots type of thing,” she said.

At GBC, she looks up to chef Diane Rayanark, who Wong said is hands-on with a sense of humour.

“Going into class we’re not super stressed,” she said. “We know there’s a lot of work to be done, but we know we can accomplish what we need to do because we have her by our side.”

Like most young chefs in the program, Wong aspires to open her own bakery one day. Wong knows that opening a business is difficult, and wants to take time to make sure she has the skills to make it work.

“I want to kind of prepare myself for all those challenges that will definitely come up when opening up your own business,” she said.

Roasted Chicken Mac and Cheese

Ingredients

 Roasted Chicken

2 chicken breasts

2 tbsp oil

1 tsp salt

1 tsp pepper

1 tsp paprika

1 tsp garlic powder

Method

1. Preheat oven to 375°F. Line a baking pan with aluminum foil and spray with Pam.

2. Drizzle the oil on both sides of the chicken.

3. Season both sides of the chicken with the spices and then place in baking pan.

4.Bake for 30-35 mins depending on thickness of chicken.

Mac n Cheese

1 ½ tbsp melted margarine or butter

2 large slice of bread, crusts removed and cut into small pieces

2 ½ cups elbow macaroni

¼ cup margarine or butter

3 cups milk

¼ cup flour

1 tsp salt

a dash of black pepper

a dash of paprika

2 ½ cups grated cheddar cheese + ½ cup grated cheddar cheese

Method

1. Preheat oven to 375°F. Grease a 1 L casserole dish.

2. Melt about 1 tbsp butter into a bowl and add the sliced bread pieces, mix to coat.

3. In salted boiling water, cook macaroni to just under al dente.

4. In a medium pot, melt butter and then add flour and whisk for about a minute.

5. Warm milk in a microwave for about 45 seconds.

6. While whisking, slowly pour in warm milk. Continue cooking, whisking constantly, until the mixture bubbles and becomes thick.

7. Stir in salt, black pepper, paprika, 2 ½ cup grated cheddar. Remove from heat.

8. Stir cooked macaroni into the cheese sauce. Add chicken in pieces.

9. Pour mixture into prepared dish. Sprinkle remaining cheddar and bread crumbs over top. Bake until browned on top, about 30 minutes.

 

 

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Student chef serves up comfort food with a twist