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Ilona Daniel is a great ambassador for PEI food, a cooking instructor, a Ms. Fix-it for restaurants looking for help with their menus. She is as beautiful and exotic as her food. But, as she explains, her beginnings in the kitchen were humble.

“I guess it’s a bit of a cliché, but I learned to cook from my mother. When I was three or four she would sit me on the kitchen counter so I could watch what she was doing. At one point, I thought it would be fun to be involved so I dumped a whole lot of salt into my Dad’s beloved rice. My eyes were all aglow as he began to eat it but he wasn’t amused. I guess then I learned that some people love their food very much.

From my folks I learned to love and then make dishes like hummus and Hungarian chicken with paprika. Food was essential in our house; it was our entertainment.

I am a first generation Canadian and my parents wanted me to become something like a lawyer. But my passion was always in the kitchen and I don’t think they were really that surprised when I decided to become a chef.”

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