Like, the best advice he’s ever received
It’s been 10 years since Angus An redefined Thai food in Vancouver with his flagship restaurant, Kitsilano’s Maenam.
And he hasn’t exactly been sitting on his laurels since then. The Taiwan native and UBC graduate has launched four additional casual eateries, including Vancouver’s Fat Mao Noodles, Sen Pad Thai and Popina Canteen, as well as Longtail Kitchen in New Westminster.
There’s also a cookbook in the works and some new locations planned for the future.
So, we know he’s passionate about creating a bustling food scene in Vancouver. What else can he tell us?
Where did you go on your last vacation?
I recently spent 10 days in Hokkaido (Sapporo, Otaru, Furano, Hakodate) with my family, followed by two days in Taipei.
What's your most memorable podcast, film or book?
Earlier on in my career it was A Cook's Tour by Anthony Bourdain. It inspired me to travel, travel and travel.
Later in my career it was The Perfectionist: Life and Death in Haute Cuisine by Rudolph Chelminski. It gave me a rude awakening on the price to pay for some chefs at the top of their careers. It made me realize what is most important in life.
Lately I have been quite fond of the book by Luke Barr, Ritz and Escoffier: The Hotelier, the Chef, and the Rise of the Leisure Class. I enjoyed the stories and the menus Escoffier used to create.
What is your morning routine?
I meditate for 20 minutes, followed by a big glass of water (I recently gave up coffee in the morning and now only drink coffee closer to noon so it's not the first thing in my system).
I sometimes read a little, then on school days, make breakfast for my son, Aidan, skipping breakfast myself. Then I take Aidan to school and head out for a day of overseeing my restaurants, meetings with business partners, etc.
A tie between Kissa Tanto and Campagnolo Upstairs, owned by my friends Joël Watanabe and Robert Belcham, respectively. Both have great food and drink, and I like the atmosphere. Joël, Robert and I, along with our friend chef Hamid Salimian, hang out even outside of our work on our shared eatery, Popina Canteen.
Photography. I studied photography at UBC before my cooking career began, and to this day I still use these visual skills to picture a dish before I cook it. Photography is now something my son and I do together for fun.
What's your favourite spot in B.C.?
We have a lot of beautiful places in BC. I love Whistler, or anywhere in the Gulf Islands, somewhere quiet.
Best advice ever received?
Taste the dishes you cook, constantly.
Your worst job ever?
It's hard to think of one—even the bad ones have valuable lessons.
What is your favourite quote and what is the source?
"It is better to be lost in your passion than to lose your passion" was my interpretation of a french quote Michel Bras wrote when he signed a cookbook for me in 2005. I believe it was from St. Augustine originally.
If you could be an animal, what would you be and why?
I'd be an eagle. I'd be majestic, fast and top of the food chain.
Anything else you'd like to add that we forgot to ask?
I'd like to encourage people to ask questions about where their food comes from; find out how the animals are treated, how crops are grown. Supporting restaurants with close ties to farmers and fishers will ensure you and your family are getting the highest quality and doing the best for the planet.