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 8:30 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

B.C. Finance Minister Selina Robinson outlines the province’s three-year budget in Victoria, April 20, 2021. (B.C. government video)
B.C. deficit to grow by $19 billion for COVID-19 recovery spending

Pandemic-year deficit $5 billion lower than forecast

A syringe is loaded with COVID-19 vaccine at a vaccination clinic run by Vancouver Coastal Health, in Richmond, B.C., Saturday, April 10, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
67 new cases of COVID-19 in Interior Health

Thirty people in the region are hospitalized with the virus, 11 of whom are intensive care

WildSafeBC reports that they've received numerous calls regarding coyotes attacking cats in Kimberley. Photo courtesy of WildSafeBC
WildSafeBC reports multiple coyote attacks on cats in Kimberley

WildSafeBC Kimberley-Cranbrook is urging extra caution after reportedly receiving multiple calls regarding… Continue reading

Kootenay-Columbia MP Rob Morrison. Photo courtesy Conservative Party of Canada.
Kootenay-Columbia MP pans federal budget

Conservative Rob Morrison says budget doesn’t have a plan for long-term spending priorities

Kimberley Mayor Don McMormick. Bulletin file
City of Kimberley will comply with all Provincial Health Orders: Mayor

McCormick wishes there would be a widened focus on getting vaccines in arms rather than restrictions

FILE – NDP Leader John Horgan, right, and local candidate Mike Farnworth greet one another with an elbow bump during a campaign stop in Coquitlam, B.C., on Friday, September 25, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. won’t be using random individual road stops to enforce travel rules: Safety Minister

Minister Mike Farnworth says travel checks only being considered at major highway junctions, ferry ports

A man pauses at a coffin after carrying it during a memorial march to remember victims of overdose deaths in Vancouver. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. announces historic half-billion-dollar funding for overdose crisis, mental health

Of it, $152 million will be used to address the opioid crisis and see the creation of 195 new substance use treatment beds

Children’s backpacks and shoes are seen at a CEFA (Core Education and Fine Arts) Early Learning daycare franchise, in Langley, B.C., on Tuesday May 29, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. budget to expand $10-a-day child care, but misses the mark on ‘truly universal’ system

$111 million will be used to fund 3,750 new $10-a-day spaces though 75 additional ChildCareBC universal prototype sites over the next three years.

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good
Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

The IIO is investigating after a police dog bit a man during a traffic stop near Ladysmith on April 17, 2021. (Black Press Media stock photo)
Man arrested in incident at Canada-U.S. border near Roosville

A man who crossed the border illegally was apprehended by U.S. officials

Mak Parhar speaks at an anti-mask rally outside the Vancouver Art Gallery on Sunday, Nov. 1, 2020. Parhar was arrested on Nov. 2 and charged with allegedly violating the Quarantine Act after returning from a Flat Earth conference held in Geenville, South Carolina on Oct. 24. (Flat Earth Focker/YouTube.com screenshot)
Judge tosses lawsuit of B.C. COVID-denier who broke quarantine after Flat Earth conference

Mak Parhar accused gov, police of trespass, malfeasance, extortion, terrorism, kidnapping and fraud

Ambulance paramedic in full protective gear works outside Lion’s Gate Hospital, March 23, 2020. Hospitals are seeing record numbers of COVID-19 patients more than a year into the pandemic. (The Canadian Press)
B.C.’s COVID-19 infection rate declines, 849 cases Tuesday

Up to 456 people now in hospital, 148 in intensive care

Most Read