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Sudbury chef partners with library to offer free cooking classes

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A Sudbury chef and former Master Chef Canada competitor has partnered with the city library to offer free online cooking classes.

Wahnapitae's Chris Mask has had a passion for cooking since childhood. Coming from a Polish and Italian background, he said he fondly remembers big family dinners.

Mask said he took on cooking projects throughout high school, and would often cook for friends looking to impress their dates.

He is also a volunteer firefighter and a primary care paramedic, so cooking is also a means to de-stress.

"It's something I love doing," Mask said.

"I don’t find it a job, I don’t get stressed by it and I love talking about it, which is how the partnership with the library came about."

Mask has been making online cooking videos once a month for the Greater Sudbury Public Library since January 2022.

Quinn Van Essen, coordinator of programs and outreach with the library, describes the partnership as something good that came out of the pandemic.

"One of our programmers thought this might be a good program to offer to the public, having someone from Sudbury who's so accomplished as a chef, offering lessons on how to offer different things," Van Essen said.

The videos can be accessed for free online through the library's events calendar or through social media channels.

Mask said it's been challenging at times making the videos from his home kitchen, but said he's been able to make it work.

He said he loves sharing the history behind food, adding that food is personal and individualized.

"Food is really personal with everyone right?” Mask said.

“I mean even if it's just the smell of walking into your grandmother's place or the taste of that burger you ate when your relationship broke down in high school for the first time and you had to get that food into you.”

Mask has tackled a number of different meals, including boxed pasta, lamb, wild game and different methods to make eggs. He said he will take requests, adding the strangest dish he's been asked to make is mashed potatoes.

"You think, 'well it’s mashed potatoes,'" he said. "One of the best recipes is Snoop Dog’s. He uses mayonnaise."

The most recent tutorial, released May 24, is how to make homemade ice cream.

Van Essen said people have been enjoying Mask's videos, adding his grill classes are a big hit.

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"Maybe it's just the love of people in Sudbury like the outdoors and using the grill but definitely those recipes have been a hit, but the comfort foods as well, like potatoes, like who doesn't love potatoes?" Van Essen said.

The library plans to expand the program to include a combination of online and in-person classes.

Van Essen said the library hopes to utilize community kitchens in some of the branches to bring the community together through a shared love of food.

Mask said he's all for it.

"I think when you really connect with people through food. I think that’s where you get strong bonds that can be forged," he said. 

Correction

This story has been updated to correct Chris Mask's occupation.

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