Food undoubtedly brings people together, and Henry Luan started his blog Henry’s Culture to do just that. He is sharing his food cultures, starting conversations around food and picking up inspiration from others along the way.
Luan spends the daylight hours by a pristine counter as a financial service representative at a bank, but his nights consist of working over a kitchen table dusted with flour by the comforting heat of the oven.
Luan cooks, bakes, photographs and writes stories for Henry’s Culture to share his experiences with food culture from Vietnam and his experiences as a Hamiltonian for the past four years.
His love for food dates back to his early childhood. He has fond memories of visiting the farmer’s market with his mother in Vietnam, bringing back home just enough goods to cook for the day, and doing the trip all over again the next morning.
This is in stark contrast to his life in Hamilton, where he finds himself cooking meals to sustain himself for the whole week. Despite the challenges of adapting to a busier lifestyle, moving to Hamilton came with positive experiences too.
“I thought Hamilton was so boring, but I couldn’t be more wrong. We have so many wonderful and talented people… We also have such a rich culture here when it comes to [combining entertainment with] dining,” said Luan.
Henry’s Culture breaks down trending foods in Vietnam, like salted egg muffins, and how they’ve made their way to Canada, and recipes for dinner dishes like spicy Tteok-bokki, sweet and sour chow mein and fresh spring rolls to savoury desserts like grass jelly.
Even at the bank, Luan thinks about food. He is often swapping recipes with coworkers and learning about new food cultures, like a recently acquired pumpkin pie recipe. He’s also known at work for beautiful birthday cakes coated in buttercream flowers that showcase his decorating skills.
“I love to make birthday cakes. Right before I moved to Canada, I worked in one of the most famous Vietnamese bakeries for three months completely for free, so I could get into their kitchen and learned how to do cake decorations,” explained Luan.
Unfortunately, his love for cakes comes with drawbacks, including copious amounts of leftover buttercream. As a home chef, he struggles with big projects, because unlike restaurants and bakeries, he doesn’t have the capacity to use up all his ingredients. It’s also a challenge balancing his career in finance and managing Henry’s Culture.
“I usually come up with new idea and recipe when I’m on my bus to work or at night after work… It would be easier if I just throw on the blog the final picture and the recipe. But I want my food to have a story behind it, and my photos to show everything from the making to the end when I enjoy it,” explained Luan.
Despite the challenges, Luan strives to have a positive relationship with food. He also encourages others to make food social through sharing with others and creating memories.
Henry’s Culture is creating a community of people that share their experiences around food, while also impacting others’ cooking and bringing new food cultures in different kitchens. For Luan, it’s all about the love for food.
Henry Luan shared his recipe for Honey Cinnamon Almond Hugging Bears in an exclusive video on thesil.ca and blog post on henrysculture.com.