Here, he will oversee the property’s culinary portfolio, which includes banquet cuisine, in-room dining, Grab & Go options, and the Inn’s signature restaurant, Aura Waterfront Restaurant + Patio. Chef Nakano’s arrival comes on the heels of the property’s multimillion-dollar ground floor renewal, which brought to life the vision of late Canadian architect Arthur Erickson.
A passionate advocate for sustainability, Chef Nakano’s appointment builds on traditions and philosophies central to the award-winning Inn, set against an inspiring backdrop of Victoria’s picturesque Inner Harbour. Raised in a traditional Japanese household, Chef Nakano’s mother instilled in him a deep respect for honouring the seasons, nourishing the land and harvesting responsibly – teachings he has carried throughout his career. While this influence can be experienced throughout each of the culinary touch-points in the hotel, his philosophy is especially integral to Aura, where local and seasonal ingredients take center stage – encouraging guests to experience bold and worldly flavours through globally-inspired “small plates”.
During his 20-year culinary tenure, Chef Nakano has prioritized a farm-to-table approach, supporting local growers and producers wherever possible, and was instrumental in launching the Vancouver Aquarium’s OceanWise program on Vancouver Island. Prior to joining the team at Inn at Laurel Point, he led the kitchens of global hospitality leaders like Shangri-La Hotel Vancouver, Rosewood Hotel Georgia and Hotel Fairmont Empress. In his new role, Chef Nakano will apply his philosophy of marrying local ingredients with Asian flavours, while utilizing the Pacific Northwest’s fresh assortment of seafood and the Inn’s robust hotel garden.
“Joining the culinary team at Inn at Laurel Point was an easy decision for me – in addition to honouring local, my philosophy of infusing seasonal ingredients with Asian flavours is similar to the approach at Aura,” said Chef Nakano. “I feel extremely lucky to be working and living in Victoria, where there is so much fresh seafood, vegetables, meats and other organic, sustainably grown ingredients to play with. I’m excited to share our team’s creativity and passion with diners across the property.”
In February, Inn at Laurel Point debuted a large-scale, multi-million ground floor renewal, which was originally conceived in 1987, when owners Paul and Artie Arsens asked their friend Arthur Erickson to design a second hotel wing (now called the Erickson Wing). He agreed, and Inn at Laurel Point became the first and only hotel in Erickson’s portfolio. Following the unveiling of the modernist-style wing – which paid homage to the property’s marine locale with dazzling waterfront views at every vantage point – Erickson and the Arsens, planned to extend renovations to the entire property.
Sadly, the Arsens died before they could complete the project and, shortly afterward, Erickson passed away, too. Thirty years later, in 2020, the hotel’s staff honoured the Arsens’ and Erickson’s collective vision by completing the renewal with the help of John Graham of Graham Sherwin Studio, who worked with Erickson on the original project. The newly unveiled ground floor renewel completely transformed the lobby, entranceway, meeting spaces, outdoor garden area, and Aura – and now, with Chef Nakano at the helm of its culinary team, the property is ready to welcome guests to an exciting new chapter for the property.
“We are thrilled to welcome Executive Chef Nakano to the family here at Inn at Laurel Point, and couldn’t be happier that his skills so perfectly complement those of Restaurant Chef Austin Lu and Pastry Chef Kimberley Vy,” said Julie Wright, Director of Human Resources at Inn at Laurel Point. “While COVID-19 has affected our industry tremendously over the past several months, our recent renewal and Chef Nakano’s appointment have helped to pave the way towards a promising future.”
Aura Waterfront Restaurant + Patio is open Monday to Sunday for breakfast and dinner, as well as happy hour on Friday and Saturday. For more information, visit www.aurarestaurant.ca. To book a stay at Inn at Laurel Point, visit www.laurelpoint.com.