Community Workshop Feature: Kimiko Suzuki, Cooking Instructor & Food Writer
What is your name and what do you do?
Where are you from originally?
I grew up in Wakayama, Japan. In 1990 though, I came to Canada for English education at the University of Victoria; five years later, I decided to come back to Vancouver, Canada because I fell in love with the city.
What workshops have you offered to teach through the Farm workshop series and what are some workshops you’d love to do in the future?
I really enjoy the workshops that I’ve designed for the facilities here already. In the back of my mind, I would always love to expand my content, but that might require some additional equipment or supplies. I’d love to do some workshops that teach people how to make some other really authentic Japanese dishes that I grew up with like mackerel stew or Kinpira gobo, using vegetable called Burdock.
How long have you been teaching workshops?
I’ve been doing workshops for 9 years, but I didn’t start at the Farm. I started on my own, renting commercial kitchens and then started teaching at Well Fed which is a kid’s cooking program in North Vancouver. I then taught at Cook Culture in North Vancouver and Downtown and later the UBC Farm.
How did you originally become interested in your area(s) of expertise?
I’ve always loved cooking and Japanese food and started to cook from a young age. My mom taught me how to cook in our kitchen at home.
Years later I found myself with a successful career in export sales, and a wonderful family. After I had our 3rd son, I actually started feeling quite ill; I struggled with my health for a whole year. As I started to recover, I had the option to go back to my job as an export manager, but I thought hard about my feelings and what I have passion for and decided I couldn’t go back to that job. My perspective on life changed after I was ill for that long: I felt as if life were precious and felt grateful for every day I was alive. After that, I left my job and career as an export manager and decided to follow my passion for food, and enjoy life so I started to teach cooking.
For me this change was not hard at all. Teaching home-cooking felt like a natural extension of what I loved to do at home, so sharing it with people who show an interest makes me feel great.
What is one hobby or activity that you enjoy doing in your free time?
Okay well, it’s related to food. On weekends or evenings, my husband and I like to go to all sorts of food markets, like Persian food markets or ethnic markets, while doing our shopping. We like to look at all the different cans, vegetables, and unique foods and talk about them, learn, and get new ideas. It’s a fun way to explore different cultures and ingredients. It’s also kind of cool to see all the languages spoken in our community and how each culture looks at ingredients differently. The different foods just come to life in all these different atmospheres, so it’s a lot of fun.
What do you enjoy most about being part of the Farm workshop series?
I love being at the UBC Farm. When I drive onto the UBC Farm property, I just get really excited to see all the green vegetables. And the Farm kitchen – even though it’s small, it’s so homey and warm and welcoming. All the guests who come to the workshops in the kitchen, they sit shoulder to shoulder and are so friendly, open-minded, down-to-earth. It’s just so lovely and I feel very relaxed when I’m here, because I feel like I’m with friends.
The UBC Farm hosts a variety of community workshops throughout the year featuring food, cooking, and so much more.Check Out Our Workshops