Montgomery Lau's Craft

Please introduce yourself and the work that you do.
I'm a trained Vancouver-based chef who has been contributing to the city's food and beverage community in some of the top hotels and restaurants.

What does craft mean to you?
Craft to me represents the continued practice and refinement in a trade. The pursuit for perfection with constant re-evaluation, re-tweak, and improvement over a persistent extended period of time.

What is your favourite thing about working in/ with food?
Food is a product that appeals to multiple senses, from sight, smell, textures, and taste.  It also invokes memories, satisfies cravings, connects people, as well as nurtures nutrition.  When all the elements of a meal come together cohesively and in harmony, it can become an experience to savour. 

Describe how it feels when you are deep in the moment of cooking?
A great sense of pride and accomplishment when you overcome challenges and deadlines to deliver something that is unique and pleases a guest, friend or family.  Especially, when new and truly original breakthroughs are achieved.

What goes into the process of planning your recipes or menus? What inspires the food you make?
Step back, listen and absorb your surroundings. I feel the job as a chef is to connect the elements, including: ingredients, themes, seasonality, weather, audience/diner, your own intuition/perspective as a craftsman; all while paying homage to the dedication from farmers & food producers.

For example, in cold weather you want to produce something hardy with rich bold flavours, perhaps soft tender cooks on vegetables. Verses in the heat of summer you want to create something refreshing, crisp, and light. 

After we understand the vibe, we juggle by applying knowledge and experience in the right cooking techniques to highlight the ingredients; as well as combining historical context, cultural context and creative elements in order to connect the dots.

How has your craft shaped your relationship with the world? What is a lesson you have learned/ taken away from your craft over the years?
Our discipline requires us to continuously improve and evolve.  Over this process we are also dependent on quality tools and equipment to help us hone our craft.  We develop greater respect for farmers, producers, and manufacturers as reliable quality tools. These are the foundations of where we build our own craft and legacy.

You are a decorated chef that has worked for a number of renowned establishments, taking you from Hong Kong to here in Vancouver. What feeling do you hope people will take away from getting to experience your craft?
I hope that our efforts in our meal translates into a meaningful and memorable experience, and they appreciate the craftsmanship that we put into our trade in addition to many other craftsmen and producers that supply our ongoing pursuit for refinement.