Connecting With a City Through Food and Architecture

The Toyota Camry inspires a drive like no other. Wider stance, sharper design, and intuitively-configured technology injects excitement into each drive, so you get the most out of every road. In partnership with Toyota Canada, we connected with inspiring Canadians who have unexpectedly captivating hobbies, illuminating the incredible synergies between career and hobby, and how they can inform and elevate one another.

Meet Danny Tseng, architect and chef.

At first glance, architecture and cooking seem like diametrically opposed interests. One focuses on large projects that can take years to complete, the other on plates of food created and consumed in a day. Yet Danny Tseng, co-founder of an architecture firm, has a passion for both—partly because both a building and a dish can develop in new and unexpected ways.

"When it comes to architecture...it takes forever to put a building together. Cooking sort of satisfies that part of me that wants instant gratification."Danny Tseng

Tseng emigrated from Taiwan to Vancouver at age eight with his family. After earning a Bachelor of Fine Arts at the University of British Columbia and a Master of Architecture from the University of Toronto, he joined an architecture firm in Toronto. There, staff members were expected to spend most weeknights networking at events around the city.

At the time, Tseng suffered from social anxiety. Determined to succeed, he threw himself into the social whirl, learning from the partners at his firm. "The way they worked a room, I was just blown away."

Slowly, he'd overcame his challenges, but by most Friday nights, he'd be exhausted. Watching cooking shows became his favourite way to relax on the weekend. Inspired to move beyond the basic dishes in his repertoire, he began improvising recipes.

These days, Tseng often spends a Saturday morning scouring Kensington Market, the St. Lawrence Market or Chinatown for fresh, unusual ingredients.

After shopping, Tseng spends the rest of the day combining them in a variety of tempting ways—making, as he says, "enough food to feed a whole village."

In addition to freezing leftovers so he can make quick meals the rest of the week, Tseng often throws dinner parties to treat his friends to his creations. He much prefers entertaining at home to going out to restaurants. "I find it's a lot better to connect with [friends] by having a home-cooked meal," he explains.

Several years ago, he and business partner Tatiana Soldatova started their firm. As Tseng puts it, "We're different individuals with our own ideas that work cohesively as a team to come up with a new, innovative solution that pushes boundaries."

Their projects have included everything from designing private residences to rejuvenating an older office tower so it can attract young businesses.

It's clear from talking to Tseng that architecture and cooking are complementary passions. He notes that both are creative, requiring him to combine diverse materials in satisfying ways. However, they differ in terms of timeframe.

He has been involved in creating several restaurant designs but has no immediate interest in switching careers and opening his own bistro. "That's something that I'm open to but I'm not exactly pushing for. [But] cooking's always going to be a passion."

Find a hobby that unexpectedly captivates you, just like the 2019 Toyota Camry.