Family, Resilience, and Flavour

by Dan Mullins

Daniel Vanson is on fire. He can stand the heat though, which is probably why he’s still in the kitchen.

People have developed a remarkable appetite for Vanson’s content in the two short years since he first launched A Canadian’s Cooking, as his YouTube channel, Instagram, TikTok, Facebook, website and blog are known.

Companies are noticing as well. He is now part of the food expert rotation on CTV’s Your Morning, where he recently did a segment on cooking for the Super Bowl and made jalepeño poppers with two dipping sauces. On April 18th he returned to make crostinis with fresh produce. He’s sponsored by numerous food and culinary supply firms. He also provides catering services and cooking lessons to families.

The 33-year-old CFER teacher (Centres de Formation en Entreprise et Récupération,) currently working out of Pierrefonds Community High School, really got into cooking online during the pandemic. He wanted to test his abilities on MasterChef, the well-known competitive cooking show, but that became impossible when the pandemic began. Dan had long considered blogging about cooking, but time constraints pushed that to the back burner. When COVID-19 forced self-isolation, and with a nudge from his wife Christina, Dan, who was born with mild spastic cerebral palsy, strapped on his apron and fired up his computer. “The cerebral palsy led to a lot of tightness in my hands and legs, and cooking has allowed me to work on fine motor skills in a fun way.” Making cooking more accessible is also part of his approach.

Vanson has used his own experience and challenges to make him a better teacher. For the last ten years, he’s taught students in the CFER program which is part of the Quebec Education Program’s Work-Oriented Training Path. Amongst other things, Vanson teaches students cooking as part of a life-skills class. He says he can relate to the students, and that can be uniquely helpful. “I get it,” he says to them. “I can say to them that I know it’s hard to concentrate, it’s difficult to focus. But if I really want to, I can.”

Vanson has also been able to give back in other ways through charitable giving and raising money for charities by selling ‘merch’ – branded clothing – through his social media pages. The first time, back in July and August of 2020, he sold aprons to benefit Kids’ Help Phone, and was able to raise over $500. In January 2021, he raised $1,600 for The Brain Tumor Foundation of Canada by selling tuques. Most recently, he was able to raise over $1,000 for On Rock Community Services and the Canadian Alliance to End Homelessness by selling socks. He has also cooked a free meal for the night crew firefighters at fire station 61 on Sources Boulevard.

Vanson credits his family for his love of cooking. Another major source of inspiration was Jamie Oliver, the renowned British chef. Vanson got the book “Jamie’s Food Revolution,” and really appreciated the step-by-step photos, which later became an inspiration for his blog posts.
In January, the Vanson family welcomed their second child, a daughter named Aurora, and the tradition of cooking for the family will certainly continue.