Meet Cheryl Chang, Chef/ Owner of Nourish. This is the first in an ongoing series of introductions to the faces and personalities of restaurants and other businesses on the Sunshine Coast feeding you and quenching your thirst.
Nourish bravely opened in April of this year at the onset of the pandemic. Serving up fresh, healthy and intensely flavoured Asian dishes, Nourish is producing styles of food otherwise not available on our side of the water. Originally Chef Chang had planned to have dine-in options but Covid had other ideas. That said, it hasn’t slowed them down a bit. In 2 visits they were BUSY. Take away and Eat-at-Home meals are the model for the moment but the kitchen is set up in such a way as to make a great teaching space. That’s down the road. Read our Q&A with Cheryl below.
How long have you been cooking?
I took my first restaurant job when I was 16. it was in an established and respected restaurant in west Vancouver, which was a great place to start.
Who or what inspired you to want to make food your living?
My mom is a big inspiration. She’s a competitive pastry chef in Taiwan, so I learned a lot from her about taking something you love and making a living. I’ve always been creative, confident and independent. Those are ideal qualities for someone working in a kitchen. After university I took a job working in a restaurant and learned that not only was I good at it, but I loved it. I began experimenting at home and honed my skills from there. Much of my training comes from the incredible chefs I’ve worked alongside, but a lot of it comes from watching my mom.
Describe the food you’re making at nourish.
The food I make a nourish is inspired by the food I grew up with. I was born in Taiwan and moved to Canada when I was 8. I don’t always feel like I’m from here or from Taiwan so in many ways food has come to feel like home. Food inspired by the flavours I grew up with and experience when I go back to Taiwan are my main sources of inspiration.
What do you see as your role in the Sunshine Coast food scene?
I really want to educate people about how food can be delicious, healthy, flavourful and fun. I want people on the Coast to have the opportunity to experience the kind of diverse foods available in Vancouver. It’s about more than just nourishing or feeding people – it’s about encouraging them and introducing them to flavours they may not have tried before.
Who in the industry has or continues to influence you?
Anthony Bourdain was and continues to be a big inspiration. I love how he shared his passion for food and really honoured the places, cultures and people he visited.
Where do you think you see yourself in 5 years? Aspirations?
There are so many plans that I have for Nourish, and for my family. At the centre of that is food, community and honouring ingredients. I really aspire to be a woman that my family and my children are proud of; to show my two girls that they can take something they love and create something that supports their dreams, but also the place where they live.
What’s your favourite tool in the kitchen?
The hands!! We don’t spend enough time feeling the food and ingredients we work with. Our ancestors used their hands to make food. They had a connection with the texture and knew simply from touch when something was ready for the next step. That’s something really important to me, and something I encourage in my kitchen and my home.
What’s your “signature dish”?
Noodles and rice are mainstays in my home and at nourish. Those two ingredients combined with vegetables, protein and a simple sauce make for a delicious meal. My children and my family will almost always request one or both of these when I ask. Noodles are by far our most popular dish at nourish.
What do you make at home?
Simple food. Often leftovers always vegetables. My girls love ‘fancy breakfasts’ so that’s something we indulge in on weekends. Other than that our dinner plates contain noodles or rice, protein – tofu, chicken or seafood – and a ton of vegetables. We love to have fried rice for breakfast.
When you go out to eat, where and why?
I don’t eat out much. That said, I recently visited the pink house bistro. I love what Mike and Lisa have created. Their food reflects the way I like to eat and cook – small dishes, big flavour, simple ingredients. Plus, they’re just good people.
What raises your ire?
People who are close minded. As a woman of Taiwanese descent I have experienced racism since I was a little girl. Occasionally my girls are teased for the food they bring to school or because their mom is Asian. I’m proud of being a Taiwanese born woman, and I’m proud of the food I make. That my children have to navigate intolerance makes me extremely angry. And the grown ups in their life do everything we can to ensure they feel proud of who they are.
What’s your desert island pick for food?
Noodles. I love noodles. Although, chicken nuggets might be a close second because they’re my go-to guilty craving food.
Check out Nourish at:
102-5674 Teredo Street
Sechelt, British Columbia
call or text 604 838 7439
Hours: Tue & Sat 11:00 – 3:00
Wed – Fri 11:00 – 6:30