Meet our team — Chef Alan

Alan is the co-founder of Y93 Kitchen (Y93 Sushi Crave Japanese Cafe).

He is an artist, a chef, a guitarist, a husband and a loving father of 3 children.

Alan moved to Canada by himself as an international student at the age of 15. During that time, he had to live independently, which means including cooking for himself. Being born and raised in Hong Kong in the 80s, he was deeply attracted and influenced by Japanese culture. In order to satiate his hunger for Japanese food, he used to read a lot of Japanese comics such as “Shōta no Sushi” (将太寿司) and “Magic Chef” (伙頭智多星 ミスター味っ子) in order to learn how Japanese Cuisine was prepared. One should never underestimate the content of these comics because all the recipes used in the stories are actually based on the practical experiences and secret tips of chefs in real life! Every episode of these comics would talk about a special dish, ranging from the simplest finger food to the most complicated cuisine, and everything would be mentioned in detail. In the stories, the main characters (味吉楊一 & 將太) have to figure out the perfect way to cook the best dish ever. In those days, these comics were a huge thing in Japan too. As a teenager during that time, Alan slowly developed his interest in cooking.

After finishing his post secondary education, Alan opened his first bubble tea cafe with his friends. Established in the year of 2000, it was the first Bubble Tea cafe in Calgary. Do any of you remember “Banana JAK”? It was a very popular hangout place and had been a huge success at that time. However, because of the high rental fee and the lack of experience running the business, the cafe was shut down eventually. With his passion and gift in cooking, Alan continued his career as a chef as well as the kitchen manager in one of the most well-known Italian restaurant (Chianti) in Calgary.

An interesting thing is that Alan is not only passionate about cooking. He is also a very talented guitarist. Well, maybe he was too bored while living alone overseas, especially when there was no Internet. To kill time, he spent quite a lot of his time on self-taught guitar playing. He watched lots of live concerts VHS performed by the most famous rock & roll bands, such as Bon Jovi, Guns N’ Roses and Matellica. He watched the videos so many times until he could learn a thing or two from it or even jam along with the band!

Alan said,

“Making a Dish is like Playing a Song!”

“Each musician is unique. Each has his own emotion and skill level; therefore, even using the same music sheets and instruments, the outcome can be very different. “

The same theory can be applied to cooking as well. Each chef has his own unique background, learned the cooking skills in different ways, and possesses different knowledge about ingredients too. Therefore, even using the same ingredients and recipes, the final taste and presentation of the dish can be very different.

When playing music, a decent instrument is very important. As a guitarist, Alan’s guitars are like the extension of his arms; while the amp is the tool to help him project his mind to others. Since different guitars have their unique sounds, you need to find the right one for the right job. In fact, Alan has a huge collection of different guitars!! It is the same as cooking, that the chefs’ knives, other cooking tools and equipment are like their weapons. Without the proper weapons and the knowledge of using them, one also cannot produce the taste of authentic Japanese cuisine.

Interesting comparisons are:

Cooking has many different ingredients to choose from; Playing music has many musical ideas to use.

Cooking has recipes; Music got music sheets.

Cooking method can be influenced by different cuisine; Playing music can be influenced by different musicians and artists.

“As a Chef and also as a Musician,

it’s my privilege to use MY TUNE to cook for you.”

— Alan Yau

Feature photo credit: Jacky The Lamb IG: @VisualStoryTelleryyc and @MoleculeStudioyyc