Foodservice > Chef's Table
Born in Kowloon, Hong Kong, and raised in Oakland, California, Chef Eddie Lam graduated from San Jose State and the California Culinary Academy, Le Cordon Bleu in San Francisco. Lam is well versed in the cuisines and cultures of the Far East and the Pacific Northwest, and many points in between.
Lam began his career with the Mandarin Oriental Hotel Group in Honolulu, Hawaii,then spent time traveling, working and learning about seafood and produce in Japan and the U.S. In 2006, he returned to the San Francisco Bay area, where he worked at ROE Restaurant as a lead line cook and sushi chef.
Lam has stayed in the Bay Area, going on to work at many of the region’s notable Asian concepts, including Umi Tochi, the Ozumo group and the Straits Restaurant Group, where he became executive chef for this group of modern Southeast Asian concepts and for their sister concept, SINO/XINO, which specialized in modern Chinese cuisine and dim sum. In 2015, Lam led kitchen design, construction and conceptualization of Straits’s new concepts, including Roots and Rye, a New American restaurant. While developing several concepts simultaneously might have been plenty for most people, in early 2017 Eddie opened a poke bowl concept, Pokii Eatery, INC. in Houston, Texas.
Now his classic training and global experiences are on full display at Crystal Jade Culinary Concept, where he is Corporate Executive Chef, USA. Working for an international brand with more than 100 outlets in 27 cities across Asia and the United States, Lam is tasked with upholding the quality and integrity of the Crystal Jade brand while incorporating local San Francisco culinary ideology into his oft-changing menu. His top priorities are sourcing locally, utilizing organic and free-range ingredients and bridging the gastronomy of traditional Chinese cuisine with a fresh modern outlook on elevated cuisine.
Part of his approach is to streamline the menu and focus on quality over quantity, “which means everything on the menu is made from scratch,” says Lam. “Where in Singapore, some of the distinctive flavors are aged fish sauce and fermenting; here, people want fresher flavors, like a whole local fish steamed with sizzled ginger and soy sauce. That freshness really reflects California cuisine.”
Within the classic standard of Chinese food, Lam likes to flex his creativity and use culinary techniques to blur the line between solid and liquid, hot and cold, and sweet and savory. In his skilled hands, traditional ingredients, like soy sauce, become caviar-like beads that burst in the mouth. Or he tops a hot soup with a firm soy gélée that melts into the surface. Crisp soy flakes add crunch in unexpected ways.
Beyond creating delicious food and exceptional dining experiences, he wants his work to educate U.S. diners, and his vast experiences traveling around Asia and the American West makes him the perfect teacher.