January 14, 2021 - Executive Chef Ken Nakano from Aura restaurant and the Inn at Laurel Point in the herbs and greens garden outside the hotel.  Don Denton photo

Cooking with fresh, seasonal, local food

A Q&A with Executive Chef Ken Nakano, Inn at Laurel Point

  • Feb. 26, 2021 7:30 a.m.

– Words by Susan Lundy Photography by Don Denton

Boulevard: Where were you born and where did you grow up?

Ken Nakano: My parents emigrated from Japan and settled in the Point Grey area of Vancouver. I grew up in a traditional-style Japanese household in a very European multicultural area. Most of my friends were first-generation Canadians too, so we had a lot in common in that regard.

B: How long have you been at Inn at Laurel Point and where were you before that?

KN: I have been here now for four months—the past five years were spent as the executive chef at the Shangri-La Hotel in Vancouver.

B: Why did you decide to become a chef?

KN: My parents instilled in me a passion for food and I’ve always had a keen interest in experiencing various cuisines. So it was quite natural to enter this industry. The strong role models and mentorship I received in many different properties inspired me to become a chef and leader for a team of my own.

B: What is the philosophy behind your food?

KN: I believe in using fresh, seasonal, sustainable, locally sourced products to produce sophisticated flavours that reflect our terroir.

B: What inspires you when you’re creating dishes?

KN: My team, for sure, and quite often it is childhood memories—the nostalgia is a dream but it guides me to flavour and garnish the products that our local producers are particularly proud of. These are my strongest memories that inspire and fuel my passion.

B: Where do your ingredients come from?

KN: I partner with local growers and suppliers whenever possible. My emphasis is on supporting our food-producing community.

B: How do you develop your menu?

KN: I start with what is available locally and build from there. The restaurant Aura, in-room dining and catering events are all created in one kitchen, so we have the opportunity to showcase our local producers on a variety of menus.

B: What is your favourite cuisine to cook?

KN: I enjoy the technical aspects of Japanese and French cuisine to offer our guests seasonal flavours driven by our local ingredients.

B: What is your favourite cuisine to eat?

KN: All types of Japanese food, from my mother’s home cooking to many of the great local sushi bars andkaiseki dinners. I am fascinated by the sophistication yet simplicity of Japanese cuisine at all levels of dining.

B: What’s the one ingredient you can’t live without?

KN: Shoyu–Japanese soy sauce.

B: What is your go-to meal when you’re low on time?

KN: Raw egg mixed into hot rice with soy sauce and shaved bonito. I always have these items on hand at home so when I’m in a rush, this is as quick and easy as it gets.

B: What is a good simple piece of advice for pairing wine and food?

KN: Try to balance the wine and food to be of equal richness and weight, neither should overpower the other—this is a good starting point.

B: When are you happiest at work?

KN:In the restaurant, during a busy service, when all menu items are selling evenly, the teams and systems are flowing predictably, and the guests are delighted.

B: When are you happiest outside of work?

KN: Cooking Sunday dinner for my family and riding my motorcycles.

Story courtesy of Boulevard Magazine, a Black Press Media publication

Like Boulevard Magazine on Facebook and follow them on Instagram

DiningFood

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

A woman crosses 176th Street in Cloverdale April 12, 2021. 176th will not host Cloverdale Market Days this year as the popular street fest is just the latest casualty in the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. (Photo: Malin Jordan)
Cloverdale Market Days cancelled again

Organizer says popular street fest will return in 2022

Lord Tweedsmuir’s Tremmel States-Jones jumps a player and the goal line to score a touchdown against the Kelowna Owls in 2019. The face of high school football, along with a majority of other high school sports, could significantly change if a new governance proposal is passed at the B.C. School Sports AGM May 1. (Photo: Malin Jordan)
Power struggle: New governance model proposed for B.C. high school sports

Most commissions against new model; BCSS and its board in favour

Vintage scrapbooks gave way to Instagram and Facebook. (Photo: Ursula Maxwell-Lewis)
COLUMN: Prince Philip just got on with it—to our surprise

Ursula Maxwell-Lewis reflects on the passing Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh

The Delta Police Department’s Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Unit: (from left) Const. Joel Thirsk, analyst Jody Johnson and Staff Sgt. Sukh Sidhu. (Delta Police Department photo)
Delta police respond to rising number of hate crimes

Police have received 15 reports so far in 2021, compared to 12 in all of 2020

A woman wears a protective face covering to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 as she walks past the emergency entrance of Vancouver General Hospital in Vancouver, B.C., Friday, April 9, 2021. COVID-19 cases have been on a steady increase in the province of British Columbia over the past week. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Top doctor warns B.C.’s daily cases could reach 3,000 as COVID hospitalizations surge

There are more than 400 people in hospital, with 125 of them in ICU

B.C. Premier John Horgan wears a protective face mask to help prevent the spread of COVID-19. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
B.C. Premier John Horgan booked to get AstraZeneca shot Friday

‘Let’s show all British Columbians that the best vaccine is the one that’s available to you now,’ he said

Doses of the Moderna COVID‑19 vaccine in a freezer trailer, to be transported to Canada during the COVID-19 pandemic. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Canada’s incoming supply of Moderna vaccine slashed in half through end of April

Moderna plans to ship 650,000 doses of its vaccine to Canada by the end of the month, instead of the expected 1.2 million

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Dr. Bonnie Henry speaks about the province’s COVID-19 vaccine plans during a news conference at the legislature in Victoria. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
P.1 variant likely highest in B.C. due to more testing for it: Dr. Henry

Overall, just under 60% of new daily cases in the province involve variants

The father of Aaliyah Rosa planted a tree and laid a plaque in her memory in 2018. (Langley Advance Times files)
Final witness will extend Langley child murder trial into May or June

Lengthy trial began last autumn with COVID and other factors forcing it to take longer than expected

A crossing guard stops traffic as students wearing face masks to curb the spread of COVID-19 arrive at Ecole Woodward Hill Elementary School, in Surrey, B.C., on Tuesday, February 23, 2021. A number of schools in the Fraser Health region, including Woodward Hill, have reported cases of the B.1.7.7 COVID-19 variant first detected in the U.K. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
COVID-infected students in Lower Mainland schools transmitting to 1 to 2 others: data

Eight to 13 per cent of COVID cases among students in the Lower Mainland were acquired in schools, B.C. says

Dr. Bonnie Henry – in a B.C. health order that went into effect April 12 – granted WorkSafe inspectors the power to enforce workplace closures with COVID-19 spread. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
24 workplace closures being enforced in Fraser Health under new COVID-19 order

WorkSafe inspectors the power to enforce closures if COVID-19 has spread to 3 or more employees

Maple Ridge Fire and Rescue were conducting training operations at Gold Creek Falls when a firefighter broke their leg. (Eileen Robinson photo - Special to The News)
Firefighter suffers broken leg during swift water rescue practice in Golden Ears park

A training exercise at Maple Ridge waterfall on Wedesday results in mishap

Most Read