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

Test positivity rates in Greater Victoria from April 23 to 29. (BC CDC data)
Leaked data shows View Royal top of COVID-19 list for Greater Victoria

View Royal mayor says week was a blip for the township, not the norm

This rendering shows the proposed warehouse for lands under the authority of the Victoria Airport Authority near a Sidney residential neighbourhood. (York Reality/Submitted).
Sidney warehouse proposal receives more than 40 public feedback comments

Sidney has until May 11 to submit comments to Victoria Airport Authority

Gwen Spencer Hethey is one of four athletes being inducted into the Greater Victoria Sports Hall of Fame this year. Here, she is pictured with her mentor Major Frederick Richardson. (Courtesy of Greater Victoria Sports Hall of Fame)
Four new names added to Greater Victoria Sports Hall of Fame

Matt Pettinger, Gwen Spencer Hethey, Peter Lawless and Roger Skillings being inducted

A member of the Downtown Victoria Business Association Clean Team works along Fort Street. The team will be working weekends from May through September, providing seven day a week coverage. (Photo courtesy DVBA)
Downtown Victoria cleanup service expanded for spring, summer

Clean Team members to patrol sidewalks seven days a week through September

Carolyn West plans to run each of the Victoria Goddess Runs this year, in support of Victoria Women’s Transition House Society. (Courtesy Carolyn West)
Runner tackles solo Goddess Run to raise funds for women, children fleeing violence

Women’s Transition House Society named official cause for Goddess Runs

A bullet hole is seen in the windshield of an RCMP vehicle approximately 4 km from Vancouver International Airport after a one person was killed during a shooting outside the international departures terminal at the airport, in Richmond, B.C., Sunday, May 9, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Homicide team IDs man in fatal YVR shooting as police grapple with spate of gang violence

Man, 20, charged in separate fatal shooting Burnaby over the weekend

The Canadian Forces Snowbirds are in the Comox Valley for their annual spring training. Photo by Erin Haluschak
Suspected bird strike on Snowbirds plane during training in Comox

Pilot followed protocols and landed the aircraft on the ground without any problems

BCIT. (Wikimedia Commons)
BCIT apologizes after employee’s ‘offensive and hurtful’ email leaked to Métis Nation

BCIT says employee’s conduct has been investigated and addressed

An adult male yellow-breasted chat is shown in this undatd photograph on lands protected in collaboration between the En’owkin Centre and Penticton Indian Band with support through ECCC. The rescue from near extinction for a little yellow bird hinges on the wild rose in British Columbia’s Okanagan Valley, a researcher says. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO, A. Michael Bezener/ En’owkin Centre 2020 *MANDATORY CREDIT*
Rare yellow birds need wild roses to survive in British Columbia: researcher

The importance of local wild roses emerged over a nearly 20-year experiment

Alberni Valley Bulldogs forward comes away with the puck after a battle along the boards with Grizzlies defenceman Jake Veilleux. (ELENA RARDON / ALBERNI VALLEY NEWS)
BCHL: Victoria Grizzlies named Island Champions

Grizzlies edged Alberni Valley Bulldogs in back-to-back matches to claim title

RCMP officers search around rows of luggage carts as screens block off an area of the sidewalk after a shooting outside the international departures terminal at Vancouver International Airport, in Richmond, B.C., Sunday, May 9, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Police say gang conflict in Metro Vancouver may be behind shooting death at airport

Police said this generation of gangsters is taking things to new level and have no regard for community safety

RCMP are looking for information on an alleged shooting attempt near an elementary school in Smithers March 10. (Phil McLachlan/Capital News/Stock)
UPDATE: Man killed in brazen daylight shooting at Vancouver airport

Details about the police incident are still unknown

Pieces of nephrite jade are shown at a mine site in northwestern B.C. in July 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO-Tahltan Central Government MANDATORY CREDIT
Indigenous nation opposes jade mining in northwestern B.C.

B.C.’s Mines Act requires operators to prepare a plan to protect cultural heritage resources

The body of Brenda Ware, 35, was found along Highway 93 in Kootenay National Park on Thursday, May 6, 2021. (RCMP handout)
RCMP ask for tips after woman’s body found in Kootenay National Park

Brenda Ware was found along Highway 93 in the park, 54 kilometres north of the town of Radium

Most Read