Food, Family, Fire

Food and relationships have always been a pairing with me.

My father Hungarian father, a self- taught chef, like myself. Laid the groundwork for my personal approach to cooking. His motto was, “When it tastes good, it’s ready.” My mother who is from Egypt, introduced me to the spice profiles of the Mediterranean and Middle East, which have become staples in my cooking.

My wife Alyssa and I are high school sweethearts. Although I do most of the cooking. She is the glue that holds the whole thing together! We are quite opposite. She, highly organized and logical. Myself, I wear my emotions on my sleeve and often bite off more than I can chew. Like I said she is the glue.

Before I competed on chopped Canada. Alyssa would come home with mystery basket ingredients. Not just any ingredients. The most popular ingredients. Which she had nicely organized on a spread sheet!

Neighbours would come over and judge me on the mystery baskets she would build for me.

Having the love for food has not fallen to far from the family tree. I cook with my kids quite a bit. They both have their own chefs’ knives and safety gloves of course. It’s beautiful to see the proud look on their faces when they cook something on their own.

I do have another family. The fire hall family. I’ve been a firefighter for 16 years in Vancouver. Cooking and eating with the crew is such a huge part of our culture. Regardless of what types of calls we attend. Fire, medical, car accident. We always sit down together and have a meal. It’s a way of de-stressing from calls we’ve attended. Cooking and eating together are one of the reasons that fire crews become so tight.

Check out Michael @vargacooks

About the Author

Michael Varga lives in Port Moody, serves as a Vancouver firefighter and was a finalist on MasterChef Canada Season Five and is a Chopped Champion.

Michael leads Fire in Your Kitchen dinners, which are fundraisers for Vancouver Firefighter Charities. A group of firefighters comes to your home and cooks you a luxurious multi-course meal, and the proceeds go to a variety of initiatives that support citizens across Vancouver.

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