Culinary power couple Forrest Liu and Karan Tsoi met while studying at George Brown College's Chef School

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Forrest Liu and Karan Tsoi

Forrest Liu and Karan Tsoi first connected over soup. Their relationship grew as students at George Brown College's Chef School. Then they became a Toronto culinary power couple, running renowned restaurants and earning high praise and celebrity clients. 

The pair first met in 2012 as volunteers at Soupstock, which featured over 200 of Canada's top chefs. It was a culinary protest of a proposed mega quarry project north of Toronto (the quarry project was later scrapped). 

That meeting evolved into a personal and professional partnership as students in the Culinary Management program. When Tsoi took a semester away from the program, Liu made sure she tasted everything he was making in his labs. 

"We spent a lot of time together talking about food, watching documentaries about food and exploring different restaurants together," Tsoi said. 

From running Toronto restaurants to launching their own in Markham 

After graduation, they decided that if they were going to work together and eventually launch a business, Liu would work in the kitchen, and Tsoi would take the front of the house. They worked together at Susur Lee's restaurant Lee, and "afterwards, we ran several restaurants where I was in the front, and he was in the back," Tsoi said. 

One of those restaurants was the legendary Toronto steakhouse Carmen's, near Yonge and College streets. The couple modernized and revitalized the business as the executive chef and the general manager. 

After Carmen's, Liu and Tsoi, with other business partners, launched the acclaimed contemporary French restaurant Terre Rouge in downtown Markham (Unionville).  

"We did everything from scratch," Liu says. "We had a great three-year run and were one of the best restaurants in Markham."  

Private chef to Drake 

When the COVID-19 pandemic started, Liu and Tsoi decided to sell their shares in Terre Rouge, restructure their company, and focus on catering and private culinary services. The couple built up an impressive clientele at Terre Rouge, including celebrities, politicians and other well-known figures. 

Liu has recently worked as the personal chef for Drake and the Weston family. The couple continues their high-end catering services and recently took over corporate events at two golf courses. 

While catering has been successful, Liu said the goal is to "get my restaurant back, and we eventually want to open a Michelin-starred restaurant." 

Love is the key ingredient 

Whether cooking for customers in a restaurant or for a private catering client, Liu says he prepares every plate as though he's cooking for a family member or friend. 

"When we cook food, I always tell my staff and colleagues, treat it as though you're cooking for someone meaningful to you," he says. "As for secret ingredients, I think it's love and nothing else." 

Love is undoubtedly the main ingredient when Liu and Tsoi cook at home for their daughter (they have a second child on the way). When asked what their favourite family meals are, Liu says, "nothing fancy, just down to Earth." 

"For us, it's just simple home cooking." 

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