Duncan Ly

EXECUTIVE CHEF AND PARTNER, HOTEL ARTS GROUP

“I came to Canada when I was four, and I grew up in Lethbridge. We were in a refugee camp in China, and we got a Christian sponsorship in Lethbridge. There’s quite a strong Vietnamese community in Alberta. I haven’t been back -too busy- but my parents go back all the time. You know it’s funny, I’ve been a chef for twenty years, and it goes with maturity, but at first you try to push your family away. I started very classically trained, you know, French, very classical, and I started to realize what’s important to me. I love French cuisine, but now that I’m older, I’m taking some of those classic chef techniques and those skills, and bringing back the flavours that I grew up with.

It’s funny, eating those things growing up, it was seen as weird - like pig’s trotter, or pig’s head, was normal to me. But then people would see whatever right. But now it’s become trendy. Now you see things like liver and heart on the menu, and when I was growing up I was embarrassed by those things, like when people came over for dinner for my mom’s cooking. Now it’s like, oh wow! And even when you think about using local, and using the things that are around you for the farm to table movement, it’s become trendy now, it’s become cool, but for me, that’s my training. That’s how I was taught. I did my training in Tofino and really back then, our crabs came from the crab trap. I drove to the dock and pulled them out just before service. That was fifteen years ago. We’d be out in the gardens picking sea asparagus, and for me that was just how we cooked.”