Meet Ken Lau, An Executive Chef Who Brings His Culture to the Kitchen

Published on : 1/25/24
    • sodexo_Chef-Ken-Lau-MoP_500x500.pngYears of service with Sodexo: 8 months 
    • Location: Toronto, Ontario
    • Segment: Corporate Services
    • Role: Executive Chef

    At Sodexo, our employees come from all over the world and interact every day with people from many different cultures and backgrounds. Diversity, equity and inclusion are at the heart of our business, and we expect everyone, from senior executives to frontline employees, to embrace and embody these cultural differences wherever we operate.  

    For Cultural Diversity Week, meet Ken Lau, Executive Chef at a large bank in Toronto. Of Chinese origin, Chef Ken explains how he shares his culture with colleagues and customers daily.  

    Chef Ken joined Sodexo only 8 months ago and is already making an impact.

    An Eclectic Career

    Chef Ken first studied culinary arts in Toronto. 

    After graduating from high school, he joined George Brown College, where he completed the Culinary Management and Italian Cooking programs. Unsurprisingly, this led to a 2-year stint in Italy. His travels have also led to the opportunity of working in Hong Kong for a while before coming back to Toronto.

    Chef Ken has had many experiences in the hospitality industry — he has been the Executive Chef of several restaurants and worked for private clubs and luxury hotels such as the Shangri La and the Grand Hyatt. 

    He’s also taken part in the opening of a Canadian seniors' residence, leaving him with an eclectic set of skills.

    So, what took him to Sodexo?

    "I chose to join Sodexo for several reasons,” he says. “First of all, I was attracted by the work-life balance. But I was also particularly interested in Sodexo's commitment to supporting food sustainability, particularly in terms of local sourcing." 

    Sharing His Culture at Work  

    For Chef Ken, sharing his culture comes naturally. "I love to eat, and I want to make people happy when I cook for them. It's also a way for me to show people who I am."  
    He also enjoys integrating Asian influences into his everyday cooking. "I grew up in Asian markets and most of my dishes are very distinctive,” he says. “Even though I studied traditional French and Italian cuisine, I particularly like to incorporate touches of Chinese cuisine where it's not usually found, such as soy sauce, cinnamon or five-spice. Ultimately, my cooking is more akin to fusion cuisine." 

    For Chef Ken, sharing his culture goes beyond his dishes. He explains that he is especially fond of the festive season, and the Chinese New Year in particular. Every year, he makes a habit of giving red envelopes to his colleagues. Giving these envelopes brings good luck to the one who receives it and strengthens social ties.  

    "As a child, my parents ran their own business, and it's a tradition they were keen to share with their employees,” he reveals. “For me, I thought if one day I become my own boss, I'd like to be able to keep that tradition alive too." 

     Chef Ken also shares with us that in his culture, two days before Chinese New Year, everyone is expected to clean up the outdoors. It's a tradition he tries to keep and share with his colleagues.  

    For Chef Ken, cultural diversity is a source of great wealth which he likes to share in his workplace, whether with the people he works with daily or with his guests.   
    So, what is Chef Ken’s signature dish? It’s the butter chicken. 

    Do you want to be part of something greater, like Chef Ken? Join the Sodexo Canada Team.