Up and Coming Surrey Chef Bringing His A Game to the Kitchen
“I remember the day I wanted to become a chef with impeccable clarity… When I was about 8 or 9, I was sitting on the couch with my grandma watching The Food Network, and Chef Michael Smith was cutting some vegetables on his show, “Chef at Home”. When I saw his knife skills, I immediately thought that was the coolest thing in the world. I wanted to know exactly how he did that. From then on my interest grew more and more.”
Meet Justin Hosain, a highly skilled, aspiring young chef, proudly born and raised in Surrey. At 20 years old, Justin is known for his experience and finesse in the kitchen, his drive to continuously learn, and his deep appreciation for ramen noodles.
Like many aspiring chefs, Justin first started cooking at a young age through exposure in his kitchen at home, helping his mother and grandmother make dinners with any little task he could get his hands on. Growing up, his family relished in any opportunity to eat a home-cooked meal from his grandmother over a meal out. Justin also recalls his family’s willingness to try and experience different cuisines being a large factor of his culinary journey pursuit.
Justin transformed his curiosity in the kitchen into a reality when he embarked on his first year of culinary school in the twelfth grade through a 5-month-long trades program that led to the completion of his first level of the Red Seal certification. One of the most memorable food related experiences on his journey he recalls as being his first culinary competition in high school. The class enrolled in an off-site competition together where Hosain was responsible for creating his own dish on the spot, using pork tenderloin and a handful of other ingredients to accompany it, much a like the modern-day cooking show challenges. “It was a major step outside of my comfort zone” he recalls. Although he explains the outcome as being “mediocre,” he interpreted it as an excellent experience overall and learning opportunity.
After finishing his first level of post-secondary training in the culinary field at the young age of 17, Justin has continued living and breathing all things culinary by completing numerous certifications. He is currently enrolled in his final year of completion for his Red Seal certification from Vancouver Community College – a huge accomplishment for any chef! He is consistently improving his skills in and out of the classroom, and applying his learnings in the workplace kitchen setting. Recently, he was introduced to the morning team at his restaurant, and through this experience he has had the chance to broaden his food prep skill set outside of his usual line work and cooking during the night shifts.
Looking back on the start of his culinary career, Justin describes himself as feeling quite intimidated by the hands-on-learning, however with time he grew to love the immersive nature of the field, and gained wisdom that failure and mistakes are all a part of the continuous journey of mastering the craft. “For every mistake I made, I took two steps ahead in my learning which really pushed me to continue my studies.” Taking this into account, he doesn’t cook with perfection in mind. “I find it takes away too much from the fun and the experience of creating something with your own two hands.” Justin’s advice to local up-and-coming Chefs is to realize the culinary arts world is not as glamorous as it may appear on TV, and to be prepared mentally for the challenges that come with the profession.
When Justin is not at home cooking his specialty, alfredo pasta, for his family, Justin is found working at the South Surrey Cactus Club location as a Junior Sous Chef and Assistant Manager in the kitchen. If you happen to stop by there or any of the other Cactus Club locations, be sure to try Justin’s favourite dish on the menu – the filet mignon steak with creole spiced prawns and peppercorn sauce. In the meantime, keep an eye out on this up-and-coming culinary talent because there are big things ahead for him! And who knows, he could end up bringing another MasterChef Canada title back to Surrey in the future after all!
Photo Credit: Jahmal Cooper, 2018