After moving to Manitoba from China seven years ago, XiaoFei Zuo literally followed his nose to a new career he hopes will one day make him the next Ray Kroc.
In 2011, on the recommendation of a friend who’d told him of “a real nice college” in Canada, Zuo left an unsatisfying office job in Tianjin, China, to seek out new training opportunities half a world away at Red River College in Winnipeg.
Seven years later, Zuo, 32, is the owner of Dancing Noodle restaurant at 1393-A Pembina Highway. He’s also recognized as one of the only chefs in the city trained in the traditional art of noodle pulling.
But more on that later. First, what about that nose?
Back in 2011, Zuo was taking English lessons at RRC’s Language Training Centre near The Forks. He often ate lunch in the food court area, which is where he made a discovery that would change his life.
“We would go there and it just smelled so good, so I followed that smell and I found Tall Grass Prairie Bakery,” he recalls. “At that time, I made a decision to be a baker. They had an open kitchen there and I could stand and watch what they do. I like to work by hand, I don’t like just sitting and writing or something like that. I wanted to learn to bake.”
Zuo enrolled in RRC’s year-long Baking and Patisserie program, where he would arrive 90 minutes early most mornings so he could fit in extra practice.
“At Red River, I learned so many new things I never saw before,” he says. “I learned to make croissants, pies, desserts, bread. In China, most families don’t have ovens, we only have the stove, so we don’t bake at all. Here, I bake all the time and I keep learning.”
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