Jul 20, 2024

Matthew Astorga likes to go to farmers' markets for fresh produce. Photo by Bell Media

Matthew Astorga didn’t make it to the top in the last season of the MasterChef Canada contest that concluded in June 2016. But things are looking good for the self-taught cook.

The Pitt Meadows, B.C. resident has joined the Joseph Richard Group as corporate chef of the hospitality company that operates a chain of pubs across Metro Vancouver.

“It was an exciting experience for me,” Astorga said in the company’s news release. “I’ve always had a passion for cooking and to be a part of such a great show and go so far was surreal.  Now, I can take my passion and what I learned to help Joseph Richard Group continue to grow, I can’t wait to get going!”

Now in his mid-20’s, Astorga was born in the city of Makati in the Philippines. He was five years old when his family moved to Canada.

Before breaking into the culinary world, Astorga was a digital design professional. He has worked as a consultant to small and medium-sized companies, designing websites and maintaining online media accounts.

Astorga didn’t have formal training as a chef. He admires British celebrity chef Heston Blumenthal, who is a self-taught chef. In addition to knowledge he has acquired from cookbooks, he also draws inspiration from his mother who loves to cook. As a kid, he used to make omelets for his siblings.

He likes to spend time at farmers’ markets, discovering where produce and ingredients come from. His favourite Filipino dish is shrimp sinigang, a sour soup.

The dish that earned him a spot at MasterChef Canada is smoked salmon in miso broth, with grilled green onion, edamame, shitake mushrooms, and seaweed chips.

Astorga told the show’s organizers that his dream is to write his own cookbooks and open restaurants.

Astorga joins last year’s MasterChef Canada winner David Jorge on the Joseph Richard Group’s corporate chef team.

Corporate chefs manage the culinary operations of dining establishments.

“We identified Matthew early in the competition as someone who would be a great addition to our team,” Joseph Richard Group CEO Ryan Moreno said in the news release.

Astorga and another Canadian Filipino, Jeremy Senaris of Winnipeg, made it to the top three finals of MasterChef Canada’s 2016 edition. Astorga was later eliminated, and Mary Berg of Pickering, Ontario went on to defeat Senaris to win the contest.

The Joseph Richard Group has also announced plans to open Sudo, an Asian restaurant, in late 2016

A diverse menu featuring Chinese, Japanese, Taiwanese, and Indian cuisines will be developed with inputs from Jorge and Astorga.

 “This is an exciting time for both the company and myself,” Astorga said. “The menu will have some of your traditional Asian and Indian foods but it will also have a modern style to it that will be exciting for guests.”

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