Susur Lee Shares Kitchen Tips and His Favourite Toronto Restaurants

Susur Lee
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Susur Lee, Canadian celebrity chef and owner of Lee’s Restaurant has taken the world by storm with his sensational social media videos. He’s known for transforming ingredients from nothing into gourmet, and if you’ve watched them, you know we all have a lot to learn from him.


We recently sat down with Susur Lee at a Tostitos Window event in Toronto and got to ask him about his must-haves in the kitchen and where he loves to eat in Toronto, when he’s not at his restaurant or cooking up something fabulous at home, of course. Read on to find out everything he had to say.

Related: Maitreyi Ramakrishnan’s Favourite Places to Eat in Toronto

If you could only cook with three ingredients for the rest of your life what would they be and why?

“First of all, you must have water, number one, it is like the major ingredients that make soups. You can stew things too. Number two has got to be garlic. Number three, salt. I can make a stew with garlic, salt and water. There you go.”

What is the most unusual and unexpected flavour combination you’ve ever experimented with that turned out surprisingly delicious?

“Harissa with date, raisin, pine nuts and pomegranate seed. Think about that as a dip…it’s a perfect combination.”

What are the 5 pantry staples everyone should have on hand?

“Every time when I cook, I love fennel like seeds of fennel, number one. Number two has to be fresh garlic, not the old garlic, has to be in season, when you roast it, it’s the best thing you ever had. Number three, good salt, it has to be really natural sea salt. Number four, it has to be some kind of grain. And you know what? I love, couscous…They can infuse with flavor, and they are very light. Number five is chili, all kinds of chili, because it really brings that excitement in food and help you, kind of like, continue addiction when you’re eating food.”

Related: How to Make Chili Crisp

What’s one kitchen gadget you can’t live without?

“Oh yeah, a knife for me. It’s like my extension of my right hand.”

What’s Susur Lee’s favourite meal to whip up on a weeknight?

“I always have good stock. I always make my good chicken stock or beef bone stock. I’ve always loved the Italian Stracciatella. It’s fast and it’s tasty and it’s fresh tasting and it’s light.”

Related: Seasonal Produce Shines in Ina Garten’s Tomatoes and Burrata Recipe

What’s your go-to comfort meal?

“Oh, I like my wonton. I grew up in Hong Kong, so very Cantonese is another form of dumpling, but it’s something that it stuck into my soul when I was a kid.

Every time when my parents buy take out, they warm it up, put it in a big bowl my family share, and I could feel the window is steaming because it’s so hot and we have such a small space. And that is my favorite memory, and it’s something that I’m always gonna have.”


What are Susur Lee’s favourite Toronto restaurants for each of these categories?

  • Best Dumplings: Taste of China
  • Best Noodles/Udon: Kings Noodle House and Swatow Noodles
  • Best Date Night: Terroni, especially because date nights mean a family night out.
  • Best Pizza: Terroni
  • Best ice cream: Sud Forno
  • This interview has been edited and condensed.