Duncan Ly | His Take

By Shivana Maharaj
April 5, 2008

Photography by Derrick Woo

It would be safe to say that Duncan Ly, executive chef at Hotel Arts fell fatefully into cooking. Ly was studying electronics at college. When summer holidays came around, he decided to spend some time in Tofino, B.C. to learn how to surf. While staying with a friend, the avid snowboarder and skateboarder landed a dishwashing job at the prestigious Relais and Châteaux owned, Wickinish Inn. As Ly nostalgically recounts, “I remember looking at the guys on the line with the smells that were coming off of the plates, and I thought, I want to do that.”

Eventually, Ly’s interest caught the eye of head chef, Rod Butters, who offered the young chef an apprenticeship at the Inn. Ly continued to hone his skills in Vancouver, working for Michael Noble at the Metropolitan Hotel among other establishments over seven years. “I learned that passion for food being by the ocean. In Vancouver we would go mushroom picking, it was great. We used to go to the docks – we’d have our own crab cage so we’d pull them out of the water. They were completely wild – no bands,” remembers Ly. After successfully working in the restaurant industry in Calgary for a few years, Ly now oversees the culinary operations of Hotel Arts, and Chef ’s table at Kensington Riverside Inn.

The calm, sleek and inviting air combined with the beautifully prepared plates at Raw Bar are a testament to chef Duncan Ly’s philosophy.“We enjoy what we do, if you wake up and you’re excited to come to work, you’re going to work a lot harder. If you have a good bond and a good relationship with your staff, they do things because they want to and don’t want to let you down. It’s not forced. It’s cooks enjoying themselves.” Good thing for fate.

This is an excerpt of an original article. For more on Chef Duncan Ly see the Spring 2008 issue of City Style and Living Magazine.