Tired and exhausted after a long day at work a few years ago, Sandra Hamilton briefly recalled, before she fell asleep on a couch, her youngest son – 11-year-old Daniel – saying he would prepare dinner for the family.
Imagine her surprise when she woke up to find baked salmon and salad on the table.
“I got up with the expectation of going into the kitchen to get some cereal and peanut butter toast when I saw this sumptuous meal,” the Toronto District School Board public school teacher recalled. “When I asked my son if grandma (she lives close by and loves to cook) had made it, he said he did it. I was like ‘Wow, you are kidding me’. I just could not believe it.”
Extremely proud of her son’s culinary achievement, she shared some of the food with her colleagues the next day.
“They loved it and when I told them my son was the chef, they just could not grasp how someone so young could do something so amazing,” she said.
Two years ago, the Regal Road Junior Public School student hosted a dinner party for his extended family and later this month, he will participate in a demonstration hosted by a major American network in Los Angeles.
Accompanied by his mother, the aspiring chef leaves for California on July 22.
“He’s so good at putting different flavours together and creating various dishes,” she said. “Now, he’s creating nutritional smoothies.”
The Grade Six student, whose culinary exploits are featured on his You Tube show, Quite a Bite, has been cooking since age six.
“I loved watching my mom, dad and grandma cooking and seeing how the food came out good and tasted nice,” said the young boy who made an appearance on CityLine with popular chef, Massimo Capra, who co-owns the Mistura restaurant and the Sopra Upper Lounge. “I love cooking and seeing how people respond to the food I make.”
When it comes to excellence, the lad needs look no further than his mom, who is his inspiration and role model.
Born in England to Jamaican parents, Sandra Hamilton came to Canada at a young age with her family, who settled in Sudbury. After graduating from high school in northern Ontario, she enrolled at Sheridan College Institute of Technology & Advanced Learning in 1986 to pursue a career in fashion design and play basketball.
When she discovered the college didn’t have a women’s hoops program, she recruited players and started a team that entered the Ontario Colleges Athletic Association (OCAA) league the next year, when she averaged 22.9 points a game and was an All-Canadian and OCAA All-Star.
Hamilton also played at Brandon University, where she was the Canadian Interuniversity Sport top scorer in 1992, averaging 22.5 points a game. She was rewarded the following year with a Harry Jerome Award for sports excellence.
After spending six years in Europe playing semi-professional basketball in England, France and Spain, Hamilton returned home to work for the Toronto Raptors as a community relations assistant before going into teaching. She’s a member of the Sheridan College and Basketball Manitoba Hall of Fame.
Her older sister, Carol Hamilton-Goodale who won a Harry Jerome Award in 1989, was also an outstanding basketball player. The former Canadian player, Laurentian University Hall of Fame member and motivational speaker succumbed to cancer in March 2003.