Alex Chen is a multi-award-winning Canadian chef whose culinary style is North American with a foundation in classic French technique. He is best known as the very first winner of Iron Chef Canada, and as co-founder of Vancouver’s acclaimed Boulevard Kitchen & Oyster Bar, which he runs with fellow chef Roger Ma.
Chen’s family emigrated from Malaysia to Vancouver when he was 13, and the young Chen began working in fast food restaurants right away. He soon developed a desire to learn more about the culinary world, and after graduating high school he began calling all the local restaurants in the phone book, looking for work.
He eventually landed a job at revolving restaurant Top of Vancouver, where he spent a year and a half. During this time he also registered in the culinary program at Vancouver Community College, graduating with distinction in 1999, a month before the rest of his class.
It was at college that a fellow student showed Chen a video of Iron Chef Japan, which inspired him to start entering competitions. He entered his first culinary competition at the end of his college year for the Vancouver Chef’s Association in the College Category, winning first place, and many more local competition wins came after.
He was apprenticed for a time under master of French cuisine Bruno Marti, before moving to Toronto in 2001 to work at Four Seasons under Robert Sulatycky. He then spent several years in the USA, first as senior sous chef at Four Seasons Chicago, before moving to The Beverly Hills Hotel as executive sous chef in 2005.
Chen returned to Canada in 2013, and led Team Canada to their top-ten finish at the Bocuse d’Or in the same year. In 2014, he and Roger Ma opened the Boulevard Kitchen & Oyster Bar in Vancouver’s Sutton Place Hotel. With a string of awards too numerous to list, the Boulevard features fine dining with a seafood focus, and features an oyster bar at its centre.
In 2018, Chen won the title of Canada’s top chef at the Canadian Culinary Championships (now Canada’s Great Kitchen Party), and later the same year he became the very first challenger whose cuisine reigned supreme on Iron Chef Canada, defeating Iron Chef Hugh Acheson in the fourth episode.
A winner of many competitions and awards, Chen prides himself on coaching the next generation of chefs. The Hawksworth Young Chef Scholarship award has been won by two of his chefs - Connor Sterling in 2017 and Daniel Kim in 2018.
If you would like to try and recreate some of chef Chen’s culinary masterpieces in your own kitchen, take a look at these mouthwatering and surprisingly straightforward recipes.
A celebration of all the flavours of the sea, this seafood boil recipe is rich with lobster, prawns, crab, mussels and clams, beautifully seasoned with herbs and spices and simmered in a flavourful stock until tender. This dish is heaven for seafood lovers, and for a chef-created dish, it’s surprisingly simple to create.
Chen’s hearty chicken noodle soup is the ultimate version of a comforting classic. Fortified with all things soothing and nourishing, this wonderfully savoury and filling broth is the perfect balm for both body and mind.
If you enjoy discovering new chefs from around the world, take a look at this list of 100 emerging chefs, as recommended by some of the top names in the restaurant business.