Price: $310.00

    Code: 2666

    Directed by Ryan Mah
    2023, 155 minutes (5 episodes, 22 min. each; 1 episode, 45 min each)
    Purchase $310
    Optional closed captions 

    A five-part docu series that chronicles the Chinese Canadian experience through the lens of small-town Asian food joints and the families that run them. Ride the rails with chef and author, Jackie Kai Ellis, as she explores Canadian Chop Suey cuisine.  

    Paris meets prairie, when upscale designer and chef Jackie Kai Ellis goes out of her comfort zone to learn more about her people’s story on a plate. On the tails of her own self discovery and bestselling memoir, Jackie is on a journey to explore the rich and colourful world of roadside, Chinese restaurants. 

    Putting her own identity into question, this is a character driven series serving up crispy visuals from buffet to BBQ . and offers a delicious new perspective on the origins of makeshift railway chop suey. Along the way, she'll get a taste of kitchen table wisdom, culture and community. House Special explores how Chinese immigrants had to overcome dicrimination and carve out a culinary niche that has become as Canadian as a maple syrup.

    Like so many immigrant families that came to Canada to open restaurants, (one of the few jobs open to Chinese people) these chefs were faced with the same dilemma. How do I take the food of my country and adapt it to a Canadian palette? And so dishes like ginger beef and sweet and sour pork were born. Jackie’s lineage to food is unmistakable. But as a Canadian born Chinese woman, she has always split her allegiances between country and culture. Now more than ever, in the wake of anti-asian sentiment, Jackie is on a quest of self-discovery to redefine the next era of authentic Chinese Canadian cuisine. A leader in her community, Jackie often hosts culinary tours and will be our guide along this journey. Viewers will have a chance to connect with her as she uncovers personal stories at the intersection of politics, culture and food.


    EPISODE 1: HARDWORK (22mins)
    Penticton, British Columbia
    Sweet and Sour Pork and Lemon Chicken. In this first episode, Jackie learns more about the origins of these “westernized” menus. A new wave of Chinese-Canadian chefs are now proud to cook what they love and have traditional food back on the menu. Jackie meets Randy, a local historian to learn about the blatant racism Chinese-Canadians faced with the Asian Exclusion Act, and the Head Tax. Jackie then meets Darcy and Christine of Wild Ginger, a restaurant
    proudly cooking Asian comfort food like Mongolian beef and Singapore noodles.

    EPISODE 2: FOOD IS LOVE (22mins)
    Vernon, British Columbia
    In Chinese culture we say “I love you” through food. Here, Jackie tries to answer the age old question, how did food come to be synonymous with love in Asian culture? Jackie meets Cynthia and Jessie, two hard working moms who work long hours and sacrifice everything they have to give their kids a better life. On the other side of the spectrum, Jackie meets the owners of Temptasian restaurant, owners that decided to close their restaurant to spend more time with family.

    Kelowna, British Columbia
    When you’re far from home, you miss food. Jackie visits Kelowna to learn about the lengths homesick people will go to eat food that reminds them of home. Jackie makes tofu from scratch with Tun Wong, son of Su Lee Ping, one of the first Chinese immigrants in Kelowna who made a name for herself by making traditional foods for her local community. Jackie discovers Kelowna's secret Chinese menus and a hidden Chinese supermarket in town.

    Red Deer, Alberta
    In Red Deer, Jackie explores how different cultures have embraced Chinese cuisine during the holidays and how these new traditions revolve around Asian food. Jackie puts on her cowboy hat as she visits locals to enjoy holiday classic dishes like lemon chicken and Peking duck, with a Jewish family. She learns the origin story of why Jews eat Chinese food on Christmas day. Before she leaves Alberta, she stops at the birthplace of ginger beef - the Silver Inn. Jackie does a cooking demo making an iconic morning after Christmas dish, turkey congee.

    Grande Prairie, Alberta
    Jackie learns about the biggest celebration in the Asian calendar - Lunar New Year. Cream cheese wontons, hair moss soup, and handmade dumplings are on the menu. Jackie goes Ice fishing with Jeremy, to catch fish to create a classic Asian dish, salted fish and chicken fried rice. She learns about the dwindling Asian community and the locals who are fighting to keep traditions like lion dancing alive. Settle in as she has her fortune read for the coming year and
    creates a Lunar New Year classic dish, Nian Gao.

    Episode 6: ROUND TABLE DISCUSSION (45mins)
    Meet the cast and crew of House Special as they discuss their experiences making the show!

    Subjects & Collections