CHOW author Janice Wong meets Rev. Chan Clan relatives in Toronto – a blind date with family.
Janice Wong has successful book launch at Sylvia Hotel
Janice Wong author of CHOW: Memories of Food and Family went to Toronto last week to talk food and family history to media including: CITY TV’s Breakfast TV, Rogers’ Fine Print, and CBC Radio.
I helped set up a dinner so that Janice could meet up with distant relative elders who all remembered their cousin Dennis Wong – her father, as well as to meet the latest celebrity in the Rev. Chan clan. The families were just as excited to meet Janice as she was to meet them – all for the very first time.
Janice was able to meet her father’s cousins Edith, Esther, and Ruth – who all grew up in Vancouver BC, and knew their cousin Dennis Wong – the son of their Rose (Chan) Wong, younger sister to their mother Kate (Chan) Lee. I have always loved meeting the many relatives and learning the many stories of our Chinese Canadian pioneer family. Great kudos to my 2nd cousin-once removed, for writing down these stories and inventing a new type of
genre – the cooking/historical memoir.
Yes, I am home…back from the Big Toe, where it was raining densely, just
like Vancouver. I was hoping for a bit of blue sky. There was
one day of crispy, cheek-tingling wintry weather, (but not really!).
My first “appearance”, on Breakfast TV was ok. (6.30 Toronto time, 3.30
a.m. my time!). It was a rapid 4 minute segment of jabbering on about
CNY, pitching the book and describing how to marinate a fish (while
demo-ing said marinade). They shoot in a studio on street level, so
there are streecars going by, people on their way to work. The studio
is a big room in an old building and they have a range-y set, portable
stove, coffee bar, bleachers. That day’s segment featured beachwear for
winter holidays, something about two big beds, Barbara Coloroso talking
about how to talk to your kids, the Home Depot tool guy, the dumping
out of millions of email contest entries, weather, traffic and me and
I had a longer and more meaningful 20 minute interview (for a 1/2 hour TV
program) with Carolyn Weaver, whose show is called “Fine Print” (
books and authors), and runs on Roger’s TV. We taped it in her
kitchen, in her home in Cabbagetown. She asked some very good,
interesting questions. I’ll let you (and our many Toronto relatives!!)
know when the air time is…probably in a couple of weeks.
Earlier that day, I had a celebrity sighting! I was having breakfast in the hotel
when in walked Ed Broadbent (I’ve been a fan forever).
I was thrilled. We smiled and waved at each other. After I finished my
Eggs Benny, I stopped at their table, and thanked him for all of his
great work and shook his hand. It was pretty cool.
Because CBC Toronto had taped a 20 minute interview with me for a morning
program that aired the weekend before I arrived, the other CBC program
that had agreed to an interview decided to cancel so they weren’t
overlapping, so that made the trip more relaxing. I just had more time
to meander. I love Toronto streetscapes. So many shops and
restaurants in old buildings and houses, all mixed up, old edwardian
and victorian brick houses, funny little 1920’s, 30’s 40’s buildings.
It was really wonderful to meet all of the “cousins”. Todd, thank you so
much for setting that in motion. David picked me up at the hotel and we
gathered for dinner. I think there were about 20 people who attended. I
had a nice connection with everyone and couldn’t believe it when the
various “Aunties” told me the ages of their oldest kids. For example,
Esther, who has a 75-year-old daughter, to which I replied that it
couldn’t be possible since SHE looked like she was 75. (The same thing
happened when I met your G__ last year…I was so surprised
to hear that her eldest daughter was in her 70’s)…good longevity
genes in your family…none of the “Aunties” have any wrinkles, they
all look 20 years younger or more…and they’re just delightful.
The fifth generation were also delightful…I was convinced that they were
all teenagers, and surprised to learn that they were in their mid to
late twenties! Must be that Chinese “youth” gene. Anyways, it was
really a special treat to be on a “blind date” with these folks and to
know that they had come from all far-flung parts of Toronto to see me
because they had such fond childhood memories of my dad. Thank you
again for creating yet another special night!
Anyways, that was Toronto in a nutshell. I enjoy that city! Maybe we can all go
for a Gung Haggis next year…or something in the summer when the
weather is fine…let’s make up a Chinese festival!
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