If the past two years are any indication, Vicky Cheng has an amazing future as a chef. Just 21 years old and recently graduated from the Culinary Management program at George Brown College, Cheng has won a number of culinary competitions, including a bronze award in the national television competition The Next Great Chef. More recently, Cheng placed first in both Ontario Challenge Cooks Competition and Sobey's Hot and Spicy Iron Chef Competition III. When he's not winning culinary competitions, Cheng is the tournant / saucier in the kitchen of Toronto's Auberge du Pommier. The upscale French restaurant, owned by Oliver Bonacini, has been named one of the 10 best restaurants in Toronto. Cheng is also apprentice to Auberge's Executive Chef Jason Bangerter. Born in Hong Kong, Cheng moved to Toronto as a high school student and started working at Auberge on a co-op term. He was hired full-time upon graduation. Mentored by Bangerter, Cheng entered the Culinary Management program at George Brown, where he kept up a gruelling schedule, attending classes from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. and then working full-time at Auberge from 2 p.m. until midnight or 1 a.m. While preparing for The Next Great Chef competition, he added a nightly practice session lasting till 4 a.m. His hard work has paid off. Besides placing third in the national television competition, Cheng has since added several other culinary victories to his credit.
Calling culinary competitions incredible opportunities for learning, Cheng says he will continue to enter any contests that come his way, but his primary focus is on his development as a chef. Wishing to follow in the footsteps of his two mentors Bangerter and George Brown Chef School director John Higgins, Cheng plans to move to London, England next year to further refine his culinary skills. His goal is to someday be executive chef of a well-known fine dining restaurant. Cheng credits George Brown for launching his cooking career and his success on The Next Great Chef.