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

People are shown at a COVID-19 vaccination site in Montreal, Sunday, April 18, 2021, as the COVID-19 pandemic continues in Canada and around the world. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes
211 new COVID-19 cases in Interior Health over the weekend

Currently, there are 875 active cases of the virus in the region

A nurse prepares a dose of the COVID-19 vaccine in Kelowna on Tuesday, March 16. As of April 19, more than 230,000 doses have been administered across the Interior Health region. (Phil McLachlan/Black Press)
More than 230K doses of COVID-19 vaccine administered across Interior Health

A total of 220,216 first doses and 13,775 second doses have been given to residents across the B.C. Interior

A class is in isolation after a potential exposure at J.V. Humphries School in Kaslo. Photo: School District 8
Kaslo school’s class isolated due to possible COVID-19 exposure

A class at J.V. Humphries School is home for the week

Village council saw an application to build a seven foot fence around a 3rd Ave. property in Nakusp. (Jocelyn Doll-Revelstoke Review)
Village of Nakusp sees application for seven foot fence

Council raised concerns about curb appeal

Elvira D’Angelo, 92, waits to receive her COVID-19 vaccination shot at a clinic in Montreal, Sunday, March 7, 2021, as the COVID-19 pandemic continues in Canada and around the world. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes
110 new cases of COVID-19 in Interior Health

Provincial health officers announced 1,005 new cases throughout B.C.

Sunday’s storm rocked one of the ferries crossing Kootenay Lake. Photo: Dirk Jonker
VIDEO: Storm makes for wild ferry ride across Kootenay Lake

The video was captured by ferry employee Dirk Jonker

Families of two of three workers killed in a train derailment near Field, B.C., in 2019 have filed lawsuits accusing Canadian Pacific of gross negligence. The derailment sent 99 grain cars and two locomotives off the tracks. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
Families of workers killed in Field train derailment allege negligence in lawsuit

Lawsuits allege the workers weren’t provided a safe work environment

(New Westminster Police)
4 youth arrested after 30-person brawl in New Westminster leaves 1 seriously injured

Police are looking for witnesses who saw the incident take place

South Surrey’s Paul Cottrell, who works with the DFO, tows a grey whale out of Semiahmoo Bay Sunday. (Contributed photo)
Dead whale floating near White Rock towed to shore for necropsy

Animal has been dead since at least April 15

Dr. Bonnie Henry gives her daily media briefing regarding Covid-19 for the province of British Columbia in Victoria, B.C, Monday, December 7, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Toddler marks youngest British Columbian to die related to COVID-19

Child one of eight people to die from virus this weekend

Chakalaka Bar & Grill remains open in defiance of orders from Island Health to close. (Cole Schisler photo)
B.C. health authority seeks injunction against restaurant defying COVID-19 orders

Chakalaka Bar and Grill plans to continue serving customers without public health compliance

Kimberley's Steve Tersmette has published Waterfall Hikes In Southern British Columbia, documenting 100 of the areas waterfalls.
Pharmacist Barbara Violo arranges all the empty vials of the Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccines that she has provided to customers at the Junction Chemist which is a independent pharmacy during the COVID-19 pandemic in Toronto, on Monday, April 19, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
B.C. to open up AstraZeneca vaccines for all people 40+, set up clinics in hot spots

A total of 13 neighbourhoods and communities will receive the AstraZeneca vaccine

Most Read